Date Night Booted Awry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your car has been booted.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn't it just "bootiful"?

Isn’t it just “bootiful”?

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

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

Date Night Goes Even More Awry

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the eyes of Mother Goose suddenly slammed shut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your car has been booted.”

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

Admonished at the Grocery Paradise

Over the course of her long and well-developed lifetime, Mother Goose has done some serious grocery shopping. I have pushed my cart up and down the aisles of most grocery stores in the Chicagoland area and beyond. I frequent the cheap stores, the healthy stores, the average stores and the neighborhood corner stores. And yes, truly, I am a professional Mystery Shopper for a large chain of grocery stores!

And yet nothing could have prepared Mother Goose for the experience last weekend at the Standard Market in Westmont, IL. The entrance looked nice enough. Pretty standard.

Externally standard.

Externally standard.

We went inside.

Immediately, Mother Goose was struck by the bright colors and the lighting and the wide open spaces. There was beauty all around me. I began snapping pictures left and right. Husband Goose soon distanced himself from me and shopped unobtrusively as can be. On the other hand, Mother Goose was gasping for breath and running from one department to another, flapping and honking and making quite a scene. As you admire my photos, I’m sure you can imagine my excitement.

Apples from the Garden of Eden

Apples from the Garden of Eden

Wines and cheeses getting paired and married.

Wines and cheeses getting paired and married.

Imagine the goats, cows and sheep who provided these cheeses...

Imagine the goats, cows and sheep who provided these cheeses…

My latest taste obsession...olives.

My latest taste obsession…olives.

Other shoppers seemed so blase about the grocery experience! Couldn’t they look around them at the wonders abounding? Didn’t they see the gorgeous displays with the innocence of a childlike goose? Were they not struck with the expansive magnificence and fresh appeal of this grocery store? Were they immune to the unique and wordless vistas surrounding them? Was Mother Goose the only one in the place who knew a pretty thing when she saw one?

Needless to say, it was anything but standard…

So there I was, blissfully capturing these images of the displays and departments with my smallish and nearly inconspicuous phone camera. The apples direct from the Garden of Eden, the artisanal cheeses from humble ruminants of the world, the charcuterie and various sausages, the seafood which had just swum in from wide blue oceans, the Sushi man with his kind and understanding smile, the sweet and savory curiosities of the bakery, the cases full of fresh flesh and mighty meats.

Divine delicatessen faire.

Divine delicatessen faire.

Sausage extravaganza.

Sausage extravaganza.

A mother lode of meats...

A mother lode of meats…

The Standard Market was a sight for sore eyes.

And then…

The comestible balloon of Mother Goose was harshly popped by the dour-faced woman behind the counter of the sausage display.

Husband Goose was quietly asking for a couple of polish weinerwurst and some sweet Italian salsiccia — Mother Goose was standing several yards away from him to spare him much embarrassment at my “unshopperlike” behavior. Somehow this elder lady of sour visage coupled us a a pair and proceeded to loudly admonish dear Husband Goose for the photographic actions of his wife.

“She’s not allowed to take pictures in this store!”

Suddenly the Standard Market became as silent as the grave. Benign suburban shoppers moved away from us, covering the eyes of their children. We stood alone, condemned by a sausage woman.

Mother Goose quickly slipped her phone into her large coat pocket and looked up towards the faraway ceiling as though she might spot a hot air balloon on the horizon if she only looked hard enough.

With our tails between our legs (if that is possible for a goose), we moved in the direction of the ultra modern checkout area, and quietly paid the price for shopping in this paradise (more than $75.00 for only seven items). Eyes downcast, we headed out the door clutching our small package of edibles and foodstuffs. Embarrassment followed us out to the car, other customers pointed fingers and whispered.

We vowed never to return to this place of our shame.

As with most of the stories that Mother Goose tells, there is a lesson to be learned.

When you shop at the Standard Market, leave your camera at home, but DO bring your BIG purse…

Mother Goose Finds a Rotten Mouse in the House

Mother Goose usually smiles, but on this day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, there were few smiles to be found in the home of the goose. There were tears springing forth from the weak eyes of Mother Goose and sobs of frustration and nauseous gagging and retching.

WARNING: This post contains graphic images of a dead mouse.

On the previous evening, the teenage sons of Mother Goose informed her that there was a very sour smell upstairs in their bedroom loft area. Dutiful as always and feeling the need to be a good mother about this, I climbed the steep staircase and sniffed loudly. “No,” I answered. “I don’t smell anything except perhaps the ink on this newly printed T-shirt.” I left the area, confident that there was no need for alarm.

The next morning a sickly green haze hung in the air of the teenage sons’ bedroom. The plants of Mother Goose had all wilted away. The noxious fumes had permeated every square inch of air in the home of the Goose family. Young men and women all around the house were choking and gagging. Mother Goose was quick to realize that their home was infested with a horrible smell, and that all of the teenage gym shoes and Axe sprays were not going to cover the harsh and putrid aroma in that bedroom.

Husband Goose announced in a very loud voice, “There’s a dead mouse upstairs!” And then he promptly left the house for an unexpected client meeting downtown.

With a clothespin on the end of her beak and a sturdy broom in her hand, Mother Goose began the search for the dead mouse.

The upstairs is home to three teenage sons, none of whom are familiar with the magical wonder of a vacuum machine. I looked here and carefully looked there. Nothing to be seen on the first quick glance around the area. Though the temperature outside was less than twenty degrees, I threw open the window and gulped the fresh cold air as if it were the finest draft of spring water in the world.

It was then that Mother Goose realized that this would be the most difficult project of her life. I am quite certain that you have heard the phrase “like finding a needle in a haystack”. At this point in the life of Mother Goose, I would welcome the search for the rhetorical and theoretical needle in the haystack.

Like an undersea diver, I stuck my head out the window and filled my lungs with outside air. I began to pull boxes and bags out from under beds. I peeked carefully into each and every shopping bag, shoe box and gym shoe. I will surely find some physical evidence of the mouse, I thought to myself.

Walking from one bed to another, I sniffed and sniffed. I sniffed here and I sniffed there. Here it was not so bad… and here it was not so bad… but over here, the smell nearly knocked me over. Mother Goose sensed that the rotten mouse must be very very close to her nose.

You may ask Mother Goose to describe the odor.

It was the smell of death. It was the smell of rotten cabbages. It was the smell of century old pickles spilled down the front of my feathery breast. It was the smell of garbage.

It was the smell of sewage and the smell of skunks.

It was the smell of hell.

Tears sprayed from the stinging eyes of Mother Goose.

I removed the sheets, blankets and pillows from the bed and shook them out. I single-handedly hoisted the mattress and removed it from the bed frame, giving me a clear view of the infested area.

No sign of the corpse, but the vapors were getting thicker by the minute.

A heating radiator runs along the length of the outside wall — it became my immediate target. The broom of Mother Goose was dispatched along and under the radiator, but bringing out no mouse whatsoever.

On my hands and knees I crawled down the floor to try and locate the putrid source. Tears streaming and throat retching, Mother Goose finally just laid down on the old wooden floor and wept for the complete frustration and sinus pain that had been inflicted on her. Her head throbbed and her stomach heaved as she lay on the floor trying to see under the heating vent.

And then she spotted something! “Quick,” shouted Mother Goose. “Hand me the flashlight! I believe I see something cooking here underneath the radiator cover!”

The poor little decaying mouse...

The poor little decaying mouse…

Suddenly and with much gusto, my sons ran to all four corners of the house to find a flashlight for their dear Mother.

“Here, Mom, here’s a real good one with an LED bulb. Can you see the rotten mouse?”

And there, sure enough, as still as a mouse will ever be, was the poor body of the poor house mouse. But how to remove the furry creature lodged so securely under the one inch opening. Indeed, Mother Goose has touched some nasty articles in her day, but none quite like this. I could only lay there prostrate on the floor gawking at the horror before me.

Ingenius teenage sons! They came running with a set of wooden chopsticks, paper towels and grocery bags — all perfect tools for the collection and disposal of the decaying mouse (which continued to decay even as I stared at it).

Mother Goose is not handy eating Chinese food with chopsticks, but I could definitely work them to my advantage in the poking and grabbing of the mouse. Only a small bit of liquid putrefaction exploded out of its abdomen as I pulled it back and forth to dislodge it from its rotten resting place.

One of the most disgusting moments in the life of Mother Goose when she took this picture.

One of the most disgusting moments in the life of Mother Goose.

Once out in the open, it was a simple matter to bundle the mouse body in several layers of paper towel and plastic bags and garbage bags and corrugated boxes and tin boxes and plastic containers. The family cheered as Mother Goose bravely carried the decadent bundle out of the house and deposited it into the dumpster.

Meanwhile upstairs at the scene of the mouse’s unfortunate circumstance, my teenage sons had found the right mix of Lysol sprays and bleaches and various cleaning products and were briskly applying them to the floor and surrounding surfaces.

Mother Goose is very happy to announce that the house smelled better within an hour.

But even as I type this story, my son is informing me that more mice have been spotted in the last few days, and somebody has even heard a squeak. The battle rages on, but rest assured of this: Mother Goose will once again emerge victorious!

The Goose and The Squirrel

Mother Goose was presumably alone in her home when she heard the loud crash upstairs. Rising from her chair, she quickly did a mental inventory of the family pets — fish in the aquarium, birds in their cages, Olivia the cat outside, Fran the dog in her daybed. Every pet was in it’s special area, and not upstairs. Then who…or what?

With all senses on red alert, Mother Goose climbed the stairs to investigate the strange noises coming from the bedroom area of the house. She could hear scrambling — the tiny scratching sound of little toenails running along the wooden floorboards. As she reached the bedroom of her sons, she was shocked to see the family globe laying on the floor. With her near-sighted eyes peeled for more evidence of the potential invader, Mother Goose slowly bent over to pick up the world and replace it on the bookshelf. A picture of one of her sailors had also been knocked off the shelf.

That’s when she saw him. At the end of the hall stood an enormous gray squirrel, and she knew by the guilty look on his furry gray face that he was the culprit. The suspicions of Mother Goose were confirmed when he turn and began running away. The squirrel knew his days as a free man were nearing an end unless he put miles between himself and this goose.

In Mother Goose, he saw a law enforcement official, a detective, a prosecuting attorney, a hanging judge and possibly even the executioner of his mortal body. He was a squirrel without a defense.

“Squirrel!” shouted Mother Goose to no one in particular. “Squirrel!”

Frantically he ran into the bedroom of Mother Goose. Leaping and lunging crazily at a closed window, he could only gasp in holy terror at the fate that had befallen him. Mother Goose closed the door to the bedroom, trapping the lice-encrusted rodent within the confines of her boudoir.

The squirrel turned to face Mother Goose.

“Squirrel!” she shouted once again. And then she realized that she also was trapped within the confines of her boudoir with a wild squirrel. She quickly exited.

Regaining her sense of mastery over the situation, Mother Goose ran down the stairs to find her broom. She also opened the front door of the house in case the squirrel should require an exit from the scene of the crime. She stopped for a moment to look at her dog who was resting on her daybed with a curious look on her face. “Squirrel!” Mother Goose shouted again. Fran looked interested, but not enough to get up and help Mother Goose. She was certainly not motivated enough to climb the stairs and assist the goose.

For her part, Mother Goose was giving the squirrel ample opportunity to resist arrest and escape with his life and lice intact.

For his part, the squirrel was doing his best to comply with the wishes of Mother Goose.

Returning to the boudoir with her broomstick in hand and courage sufficiently summoned, Mother Goose rapidly scanned the floor, the corners of the room, under the dressers and the bed and even peeked cautiously into the closet.

No sign of Mr. Squirrel.

Then Mother Goose noticed the open window near her bed. She breathed a loud sigh of relief. He had apparently found his own escape route and executed his plan perfectly, leaving no trace of himself behind.

Returning to her kitchen chair by the window, Mother Goose watched the leaves fall and allowed her heart rate to return to normal. The back door was open, and she suddenly heard the rasping voice of a squirrel in the willow tree. She peered out the door and up into the tree, ever cautious as a goose can be. There he was way up high on the branch. The squirrel was scolding her! He was saying, “You may have won this battle, Mother Goose, but I will still win the war! I shall return!”

“I’m watching you, Mother Goose.”

Fish Tank Fail

The most faithful followers of Mother Goose will recall the problems of last week — especially the case where she inadvertently put the doggy eye drops into the eyes of the youngest daughter causing her pupils to dilate to enormous proportion and remain in that condition for six days…

Today Mother Goose attempted to clean the family fish tank. Sadly, there were casualties…

Over the course of months, the fish tank of the Goose family acquires its share of algae and green slime. Then it’s time for Mother Goose to roll up her sleeves and do some serious housekeeping on behalf of the fish pets. These pictures could speak for themselves, but I will add some humorous comments just to keep you amused….until the very end.

The fish appear happy, but Mother Goose is concerned about the content on the bottom of the fish tank.

I transferred the fishes to this pitcher for safe-keeping. They look OK.

I bailed gallons and gallons of water out of the fishless tank.

The family bathtub is a great place for washing slimy fish tanks… and I tossed out the icky rocks.

Think anyone would notice if I forgot to clean the bathtub after cleaning the fish tank?

I discarded the disgusting and dirty old filter…

Replacing the water filter is very important — I handily installed a fresh one.

The tank is so clean, you could probably eat off of it.

It takes a lot of pots and pans to refill the fish tank.

All clean and shiny! Simply add fishies.

And suddenly four fishies were lying on the bottom of the fish tank! Oh no, Mother Goose! Did you add the water conditioner to the water to neutralize the chlorine in the tap water before you added the fish? Oh no….

Fish tank FAIL. Yes, I was so happy and excited and honking and flapping about the clean fish tank, and busily recording the event on my camera for my dear and gentle readers that I forgot to un-poison their water. I poured them into the fish tank, they took a great big gulp of their new fully-chlorinated pool, and several of the fishes immediately keeled over and sunk like rocks to the bottom of their deadly home.

And now, it’s off to the pet store where I will choose some new fish, some hearty fish, some fresh fish and some alive fish.

Until next time, this is Mother Goose signing off — with head hung low, and dragging her rubbery feet in frustration…

Hell Week for the Goose

“I do not believe in God, because I do not believe in Mother Goose.” Clarence Darrow

Perhaps Clarence was confused about the reality of Mother Goose. He was definitely confused about God. But even Mother Goose who has abundant faith, hope and love is at a loss for an explanation when it comes to the events of this past week. Let’s reflect together for just a few minutes about the Hell Week of a Goose.

On Monday, the youngest of the goslings mentioned that she felt something was in her eye. Mother Goose looked and saw nothing.

On Tuesday, the child’s eyelid was puffed up like a cumulus cloud. Mother Goose ran to her medicine cabinet and pulled out two ophthalmic products — a small bottle of eye drops and a tube of neomycin ointment (an antibiotic). She dutifully applied both products to the right eye of the child. Within an hour, the pupil in the child’s right eye was completely dilated. The puffiness had not diminished.

Not my daughter’s eye, but definitely a dilated pupil.

Well, how strange, thought Mother Goose. “Let’s just go to sleep now, and I’m sure you’ll be fine tomorrow morning for the first day of school.”

And, of course, in the morning, the eye was puffier than ever and the pupil was still dilated. The brave child went off to school anyway, leaving Mother Goose at home to Google this problem, and to make an appointment with the doctor. The antibiotic cream was fine, according to Google. Mother Goose now googled the name of the prescription eyedrops, Atropine. “A very strong medicine for dilating the pupil, used primarily for glaucoma patients, people with bleeding eyes and dogs with eye infections…”

Yes, our dog had used these drops in her eyes just a few months ago for her eye infection.

Oh, Mother Goose…

Four days later, my daughter’s pupil is nearly back to its normal size and activity.

Oh, Mother Goose…

Also this week, the husband of Mother Goose was the subject of a dental procedure — the extraction of his abscessed molar.

The molar of husband Goose didn’t look this good…

On the same day, one of the goosemobiles suffered a meltdown, requiring a $500 repair at the Pep Boys.

They do everything for less…

Another of the goslings accidentally smashed his arm into a door, requiring a trip to the Emergency Room at our local hospital. The poor fellow cracked it so terribly hard that he couldn’t straighten it out. The good folks at West Suburban Medical Center took a few xrays and determined that the arm was neither broken nor dislocated, only horribly bruised.

We’ve been here several times over the years…

Whew… it’s been just awful for Mother Goose who was crying and honking all at the same time.

Did I mention that I also sliced a huge chunk out of my index finger as I washed the perpetual dishes one morning?

Do you ever have days like these? Do you ever just want to throw your wings up in the air and give up? Do you shake your fist at the heavens and swear revenge on the universe? Have you ever just wanted to go back to bed and start the week all over again?

Mother Goose shed her fair share of tears this week in the course of these light and momentary struggles and trials. There was even a bit of shouting in our normally peaceful nest. Yes, shouting. Can you even imagine?

But whether we believe in Mother Goose or in God, either or both, here’s the eventual outcome:

Each of us survived our personal battles this week. Each of us has made it to Friday night, pretty much intact. We are weary of the Hell Week and hope that tomorrow and the next day will be better, but deep within each of us is the truth that no matter what problems we face, what fears we have, no matter if the incorrect eye drops have been placed in our eyes, it’s gonna be OK.

When we get to the other side of Hell Week, we are full of hope that we can probably get through anything. There is much grace in Hell Week. It’s gonna be OK.

It’s one of the favorite sayings of Mother Goose — she knows it’s true because she lives it out every day.

It’s gonna be OK. Really!

Mother Goose and Augustus Angst

Mother Goose is acquainted with Mr. Augustus Angst. He comes around once a year, but we are not friends. He arrives without warning and stays well past his welcome. He wears a sneer and twirls his Simon Legree mustache as he taunts me. He is like a broken record every time he shows up, and he says, “Summer is almost over and you hardly did anything worthwhile.” He is a liar, but enough of me believes him to make me feel a little down in the dumps and singin’ the blues.

Angst compares our summers to the summers of other families. He questions my motives: “The kids will be back in their classrooms in just a few short days! Did you take them anywhere fun for a vacation? Sure, you took them up north to see YOUR family, but did you take them to Gulf Shores for some traditional beach time? Did you take them to Disney World? Did you even take them to the pool?”

Augustus Angst holds a dim mirror in front of my face and asks, “You don’t look very happy, Mother Goose! Another summer gone by and I see you’ve got a few more wrinkles on your face and look at how your hair is much grayer than it was last time I was here. Maybe you need to get to the salon, Mother Goose. And by the way, Mother Goose, what about your commitment to exercise this summer? And I wonder if you got those cleaning projects done? And speaking of projects, how’s that backyard beautification project coming along, Mother Goose?”

Angst whispers and accuses. He cannot be satisfied with just a little tease; he relentlessly points his finger at my heart. “What about that list you made in June of all the fun places you were going to visit with the kids? Where’s that list, Mother Goose?”

I have a new list of verifiable excuses ready and I lay it at his feet in hopes of fending him off. “It was an excessively hot summer.” “The kids like to sleep til noon in the summer.” “We ran short of vacation funds.” “The kids really prefer to play computer games and video games…”

“Lame,” replies Angst.

Begone, Augustus Angst!

“Enough of you!” I honk in his face. “Begone, August Angst, you jealous old snake in the grass. We still have four more days until school starts, and we WILL make the most of those days! We will go to the Air and Water Show in the city today, and we’ll go to the beach and the forest. We’ll take a picnic to the park and we’ll spend a better day at the zoo. We’ll play games together and sit around the campfire in the evenings and tell stories. I tell you, Angst, you’re a liar and bad one. Get lost or I’ll goose you!”

I can only hope he doesn’t show up on your doorstep…

My backyard is a blessing — I’m thankful for the strength to pull the weeds and trim the dead branches out of the trees. You should have seen it before I started…

During the Dog Days of summer, I’m thankful for pets who like each other…kind of…most of the time…sometimes.

I will lock Angst in the back shed where he can’t bother me anymore…

“Quick! Somebody Call the Exterminator!”

Mother Goose is tolerant of bugs. I can easily remove a beetle, an ant or a spider from the house without too much trouble. In fact, I deeply care about all forms of life. If you read my investigative report yesterday, then you are fully aware of some of the problems we experienced at a recent visit to the Brookfield Zoo. We were shocked and appalled at certain conditions in the cages and homes of the animals. We were especially saddened by the poor wombat who was the butt of jokes throughout the day as he lay in his habitat with an unlit Marlboro on his tummy, dropped there by a very rude zoo guest.

As we progressed through the park, we quickly realized that the zoo was not only neglectful of the cleanliness of the animal homes, but apparently also completely ignorant of the infestation of giant bugs in the eastern portion of the park. Try not to gasp too loudly as Mother Goose shares her expose` on this shocking zoo phenemenon.

This was a little too much for Mother Goose to handle.

Not an ordinary ladybug, nor an Asian ladybug.

A hideous infestation.

Normally I enjoy the company of the praying mantis — however, I was uncomfortable with the thought of having this one as a prayer partner…

A dragonfly the size of a Black Hawk! I kid you not…

Probably not a true honeybee…probably more like a tracker jacker.

The look on Ben’s face says it all: thoroughly disgusted with the whole scene.

Here’s what the zoo has to say about these bugs: Xtreme BUGS were built exclusively for Brookfield Zoo and invade this summer for a limited time. Massive state-of-the art animatronic bugs move about in larger-than-life scenes highlighting life in a bug’s world. A winding trail leads to ants feasting on a scorpion, spiders hunting, bees pollinating, and so much more!

Here’s what Mother Goose has to say about these bugs: Call Terminix and get rid of the big, stupid bug exhibit. Spend your time, money and effort on taking better care of the real animals in your zoological garden place. Don’t get distracted from your stated mission: “The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature.”

Can we seriously believe your mission when there’s harmful trash in the animals’ homes? C’mon zoo keepers, do your job!

And that’s about all that Mother Goose should say about that…

Be kind to one another today, and be kind to the animals.

An Alarming Visit to the Zoo

Mother Goose and her offspring love animals so much that we have a membership to the Brookfield Zoo and visit there quite regularly. We’ve been somewhat disappointed, however, at the lack of animals this year — cages empty, exhibits temporarily closed, animals out on loan to other zoos. We scratch our heads in puzzlement — is it a zoo or just another pretty park?

We were especially alarmed at the things we saw in July. Please try not to cry as you view these pictures from the zoo!

River otters. Notice the one with a plastic straw in his mouth. Where is the sense in that? I seldom let my own children use plastic straws for the choking danger it could pose to the drinker…

Gorilla depression is serious, but can be treated if detected early on.

Is this big fellow holding a weapon in his right hand and feet? Mother Goose is afraid, very afraid.

We moved on to the dead snow leopard exhibit. Perhaps the gorilla had already been here…

I hope your Kleenex box is close at hand.

And just when we thought we had seen all the possible trauma at the zoo, we entered the Australia house. Mother Goose was prepared for the potential of seeing bats flying loose within the dark places of this place. Nobody, including Mother Goose, was prepared for this:

Some joker had dropped an unlit cigarette on him in his demise. The dear, precious wombat… such an indignity to the little fellow. Please pass the tissues…

Dear readers, it was a harsh time, an alarming time. It was actually time to call the authorities to report the situation at the zoo. AnnaRose quickly dialed 9-1-1 and spoke to the dispatcher about these things.

“Hello? Yes, I’d like to report many problems at the zoo.”

But wait, there’s more! Tomorrow…

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