Happy Explorer’s Day! Anybody?

My twenty-something daughter got up this morning and said, “How ’bout we show up at a stranger’s house, go right in and say ‘hey we live here now’. That’s all about Columbus Day, right Mom?”

Well, actually, the day is pretty much over now, and NOBODY has even wished me a Happy Columbus Day! No Hallmark cards coming in the mail to greet me in the name of Queen Isabella. When was the last time you saw decorations in the store for Columbus Day? No Nina, Pinta OR Santa Maria cuppy cakes or balloons. No Charlie Brown specials commemorating the day. No Columbus Day candy aisle at Walgreens. I’m not even sure if it is required that we fly the American flag on this holiday, and there certainly weren’t any parades in Oak Park today. There won’t be any fireworks tonight either. But the major department stores do use the day as an excuse for HUGE sales.

AND this day is actually a true insult to the first true Americans, our native brothers and sisters scattered around the United States of America. What in the world are we celebrating invasion of a homeland and slaughter of an innocent population for anyway?

I even ran this whole idea past my eight-something daughter yesterday, and she was amused that it’s actually a holiday. But her main concern is that she still gets a day off from school, no matter what, right.

I propose that Columbus Day be renamed Explorer’s Day. I suggest it would be a step in the right direction if the emphasis shifted away from one Italian explorer to include all explorers, inventors and brave souls from the beginning of our great nation up to this present day. Think about it and talk about it.

And just for a little bit of nostalgia, here’s the only poem I ever heard about this day:

IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But “India” the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he’d been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

Linda Smiles

Mother Goose enjoyed a delightful dinner last evening with dear friend, Linda.

Unfortunately, the sticky topic of the grape jelly fiasco came up. Mother Goose declared, “We shall not speak of it!” And, of course, Linda smiled and suggested a very wonderful answer to the gooey mess. That’s what Linda does — she solves problems! She is an underpaid but professional problem solver. Knowing that she would have a grand solution up her sleeve, I listened carefully. Here is her advice:

“Call it Grape Juice Concentrate.”

Oh my goodness, the woman is brilliant! I could say that I have twelve and one half little jars of failed jelly in the back and bottom of my pantry. OR with Linda’s suggestion, I rename my broken product, rebrand it and remarket it to my family as an excellent juice that they will love so much. Of course, that’s what I will do.

A special thanks to Linda for that amazing idea! And a special thank you to the kind folks at Shannon’s Irish Pub in Glen Ellyn for allowing us to warm the seats of our corner table for nearly three and one half hours whilst we commiserated, cajoled and committed nearly indecent acts of breast exposure over our lovely dinner. Cheers to grape juice lovers everywhere.

And we shall not speak of it again…..

One Sentence about Today

In reply to today’s writing challenge from #Trust30, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s book, Self Reliance.

“Count the smiles, count the tears, but not the fears and not the years.”

We were challenged to write an original thought about today.  That pretty much sums it up for me today.  Part two of the challenge is to say it to someone.  I will put it out on the table when i have a cup of tea with my friend, Linda, today.

Mother Goose is heading out the door to catch a good story for the children.

A Library Experience

(previously published over at Blogger….)

It was a quiet night at the public library; most of the patrons had finished their homework and left their book browsing for the evening.  Cece turned the corner into the children’s world of the library not knowing if she should be there or not, but needing help.  The security guard had his camera monitors and knew all things about all rooms of this big library, and she accepted the fact that he’d be watching her tonight.  Still, she went ahead looking for someone who could read.

Faye was sitting at the first table in the children’s department with her little daughter and her little Dell, clicking clicking clicking out her emails to family and friends while Millie finished her homework.  Andrew was upstairs with the computers printing out some papers for school, and Lee had social studies to do somewhere else.  Her husband Greg and his son Greg Jr. were also at the library that evening, busy with their reading and writing and arithmetic.  It was just one big happy family outing!

Sitting near the entrance like this, Faye was able to see and be seen if any of her family tried to find her and Millie.  And she was quickly spotted by Cece. Apprehensive at first, she walked past the table, then turned around and walked up to Faye sitting at the table.  Cece was dressed warmly with her dark blue winter jacket and stocking cap, and her eyes were clear and hopeful as she approached.

“Do you know how to find places?” she asked, looking meaningfully at Faye’s computer.

“Sure,” Faye replied.  “Do you need mapquest?”  She gently slid her computer over to where Cece was sitting so she could look up the address which was written on a piece of paper in her hand.

“Oh no,” Cece said quietly.  “I can’t read this.  The man at the desk wrote it down for me, but I need to know how many blocks it is to get there.”

She showed the piece of paper to Faye, and then very quietly said each of the letters on the piece of paper.  The large block letters spelled out the name and address and phone number of a women’s homeless shelter on  the 4700 block of Sheridan Road, the very northern edge of Chicago’s city limits.  Faye looked into Cece’s face wondering.  “This is very far away.  This is way up on the north side.  We are here,” and Faye showed Cece the map on the computer screen.  “Can you read maps?  Look here’s where we are and here’s the shelter.  It’s so far away.”

And Cece explained her situation to Faye, in a matter-of-fact sort of way.  She had tried to go to the P.A.D.S. shelter there in Oak Park, but they wouldn’t let her stay because she didn’t have an ID and didn’t have $2.75 to pay for a cushion to put down on the floor.  “I don’t have an address,” she said.  “How can I have an ID when I’m homeless.  This place at this address is open twenty-four hours a day; I can walk there and be there by mid-morning.  I just need to know how many blocks it is.”

Faye shook her head.  How could she explain to this woman who looked just like any other woman sitting at the library that evening that this address was way too far to walk?  Was it even possible to walk there if a person knew how to read?  How could this woman possibly get there?  Her mind turned over the options that might be available.  She could offer to drive her to the shelter — in the car, it would only take 45 minutes, an hour at the most.  While she was weighing that, how to work it all out to help this quiet woman who didn’t look homeless except that she was missing a few teeth, she and the woman made small talk.  Cece asked about her daughter and how many kids did Faye have.  She loved Millie’s name and her eyes and commented that they were the same color as Faye’s.

Faye silently marveled at Cece.  She just seemed like an old friend, sitting there at the library table together, just getting caught up on all the things in their lives.  Cece started to get up, saying that she had better get going as they didn’t really allow her into the library and she should really be going.  Faye reached into her purse, looking for some money to give the woman.  She came up with a handful of change and put it into Cece’s hand.  “It’s all I have in my purse,” she said. “But I’ll go find my husband and get a dollar from him.”  Cece protested mildly, “Is he mean?” she asked.  “I don’t want you to get into trouble.  I don’t anyone to know I’m homeless, you know.”

“No,” said Faye, “It’s OK.  I’ll be right back.” And she got up from the table and started walking to the lounge area where Greg was probably reading.

“Wait,”  Cece called quietly.  “You can’t just leave your computer like that on the table.”

Faye turned around, and sure enough Millie was right behind her and the computer and all of their papers were still on the table and little kids were already started to gather around the little Dell as if they’d found a bag of candy corn to share around.

Smiling sheepishly, Faye turned back to the table.  “Oh, you’re right,” she said and started to gather up her stuff even though Greg was less than 100 yards away.  Faye was from the suburbs (even from the country if you go way back), still not used to the idea that anyone would steal anything just as quickly as you blink your eye, and kids will be kids and play with other people’s computers here in the library.

Just then, Andrew walked into the children’s department and saw Faye right away. “Hi Mom,” he said.  “I’m all done; ready to go?”

“Andy, do you have a dollar?”  Faye knew that Andrew always had a wallet with cash and a heart bigger than all of the suburbs put together.

“Sure, Mom,” and he pulled out his wallet and gave her a dollar with a question mark on his face.

“Thanks, dear. I’m giving it to that lady over there.”  Faye took the bill and waited for Cece to finish looking at the tropical fish aquarium set in the wall.  She was visiting with some little boys about the large fish.  Her backpack was full, but it didn’t look very heavy, sitting there on the floor next to her; she was smiling and enjoying the library and the children and the fish.  Faye waited.

When Cece came over to her, Faye put the dollar into her hand.  “What’s your name?” she asked.

“You can call me ‘Cece’,” she smiled thankfully, stuffing the money into her pocket with the change.

Knowing that time was slipping away quickly, Faye looked into Cece’s eyes, and said quietly, “I’ll be praying for you, Cece.”

“Thank you,” she replied.  “Just pray that He’ll keep me safe, that’s all. Thank you.”  She shouldered her backpack and started for the entrance.  Looking over her shoulder, she called quietly, “I’m so bad with names!  What was your name again?”  Faye told her.  They smiled and laughed, saying goodbye to each other at the intersection of suburban and homeless reality.


I’ve never met a daffodil that I didn’t like.  I love the sameness about them.  If you’ve seen one of these posies that’s looking perfectly lovely, odds are that all of them around your chosen one will be as charming and perfect.  I wonder about their DNA….

What if people were like daffodils, all lovely in their identicalness, all blowing together in the spring breezes and nodding under the glorious sunshine, all smiling happily and dreamily at the world passing them by?  No need for individualities and the conflicts that arise from differing perspectives.  Joyously and mindlessly nodding to one another, in perfect agreement…

Something to ponder today as the clouds drift overhead, I leave you with a blessing and these words from William Wordworth.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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