Tonight, It’s Perch

perch

Mother Goose had the idea — invite David to dinner. When she asked him what she should prepare, he quickly replied, “Perch.”

You will certainly remember David as being the veteran who I found out was spending the nights sitting up and sleeping at the “Dunkins”. This week, he has been staying at our mutual friend, Kevin’s place, so I also invited Kevin for perch.

What the guys don’t know is that Mother Goose has also invited our mutual friend, Murriel, who will help with the preps and serving of the perch…

This is going to be a really great dinner party for all of us — stay tuned as Mother Goose takes a chance and makes a mess of perch for her friends…

Sailor Recruits Enjoy A Magical Thanksgiving

“Welcome aboard the USS Thanksgiving! At the helm today, we have Captain George who will be steering us into a magical port called Oak Park, Illinois — a place where they have TVs….computers….phones….and good food.”

The thirty-four sailor recruits cheered and ooooorah’d as we pulled out of Great Lakes Naval Training Center heading for a Thanksgiving Day to remember. Most of them had been told they would be picked up and taken to a community soup kitchen to serve dinner to poor homeless people — they had no idea that Mother Goose and Company had made other plans for them!

The day started at 7:30 a.m. at the garage of Mid-America Charter Lines in Elk Grove Village, IL. Mother Goose had been chosen as the hostess with the mostest for this most exciting day — of course, as a Navy Mom, Mother Goose is very familiar with young sailors and relished the idea of riding the tour bus to pick up the recruits at the boot camp so bright and earlie in the morning.

Mother Goose and Captain George Kousakis in front of the 46 passenger tour bus!

Mother Goose and Captain George Kousakis in front of the 46 passenger tour bus!

We arrived at the base in plenty of time and with just a little bit of run-around, we loaded up the recruits. The U.S. Navy has implemented the Adopt-A-Sailor program for the recruits who can’t get home for the holidays. Organizations can apply to adopt as many recruits as they can accommodate, and if the application is accepted, you get to pick up your sailors for the day! It’s such a GREAT program! Look at their smiling faces!

Onboard the USS Thanksgiving...

Onboard the USS Thanksgiving…

We arrived in our magical port where the computers, phones, TV and food were warmed up and ready for them. The sailors politely lined up to remove their coats, scarves, gloves, and covers (hats) and then politely asked where the computers and phones were. AND THEN THEY STARTED SMILING AND DIDN’T STOP SMILING FOR THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS!!!

In boot camp (also referred to as basic training), the recruits are completely unplugged. There are no TVs, no radios or music, no computers, no phones, no internet — nothing but marching and training and discipline and eating their meals in five minutes. They learn new names for things — the bathroom is now the “head”, hats are now “covers”, time is now measured in 24-hour segments, they are known by their last names only and there is no hugging.

So Mother Goose hugged them all day long.

These sailors immediately found their way to Facebook, their emails, their favorite online games and surprised their moms and dads (and in some cases, their wives!) with phone calls. Most of the guys and gals had not heard the voices of their families since they left their hometowns for boot camp five or six weeks earlier! Imagine the tears on the cheeks of the moms all across the country as they heard the voices of their young sailors…

"Thank you, Ma'am.  Is this Heaven?"

“Thank you, Ma’am. Is this Heaven?”

Checking in with family across the country.

Checking in with family across the country.

This is Edward -- he's from Puerto Rico and not especially liking the Chicago winters...

This is Edward — he’s from Puerto Rico and not especially liking the Chicago winters…

Ms Melvina, her caterer friend Kimberly chatting it up with some happy recruits.

Ms Melvina, her caterer friend Kimberly chatting it up with some happy recruits.

Besides the young recruits, our amazing team at Easter Seals also invited the veterans in our community who participate in our programs and services. It was a wonderful mix of young and old, squids and old salts, volunteers from all walks of life serving turkeys and the fixin’s donated and cooked by so many gracious helpers. It was a team effort and those are the best kinds of efforts according to this goose.

Dear Erin cooked a turkey and connected us with the amazing bus!

Dear Erin cooked a turkey and connected us with the amazing bus!

Retired Army Drill Sergeant Daniel, his wife and son Ethan served all day long.  They are the owners of an amazing online biz, Gruntstyle.com.  GREAT place to go on Cyber Monday for some VERY cool and patriotic American apparel.

Retired Army Drill Sergeant Daniel, his wife and son Ethan served all day long. They are the owners of an amazing online biz, Gruntstyle.com. GREAT place to go on Cyber Monday for some VERY cool and patriotic American apparel.

So many smiles...

So many smiles…

IMG_0536

The food line was amazing!  Seven turkeys, two hams and a partridge in a pear tree!

The food line was amazing! Seven turkeys, two hams and a partridge in a pear tree!

Our dinner with the recruits and veterans had a full agenda, including the Presentation of Colors by the Oak Park Police Department, poetry reading by Ms Josie Pierce of the American Women of Oak Park and Austin, presentations of roses to veterans and live music by a really talented musician named Ernie.

Ernie sang with passion and style about America and love of country, love of God.

Ernie sang with passion and style about America and love of country, love of God.

And then it was time to climb back aboard the USS Thanksgiving and head back to the base…hugs and tears all around. As Mother Goose climbed onto the bus, the sailors started singing at the top of their lungs!

“Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh. Farewell to foreign shores, We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay. Through our last night on shore, Drink to the foam, Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

Blue of the Mighty Deep; Gold of God’s Sun Let these colors be till all of time be done, done, done, On seven seas we learn Navy’s stern call: Faith, Courage, Service true, with Honor, Over Honor, Over All.”

When we arrived at the base, thirty four sailors filed out of the bus with thankful hearts and happy faces. Each and every one of them gave Mother Goose a GREAT BIG HUG and said “thank you” and “happy Thanksgiving” and “God bless you”. Mother Goose smiled…

Obsessively French Goose

The French (or Pomeranian) Goose and goslings

The French (or Pomeranian) Goose and goslings

Mother Goose asks herself many times each and every day, “Why do I suffer from this ongoing OCD? Why must I be continually checking my Francophile status? Will this constant absorption in French music, food, literature, aromas and peoples ever cease? Is there healing in the lavender of Provence? Will I ever know peace?”

Let us now count the ways in which I have become a French goose:

1. In the past six months, I have had a love affair with no less than three French novels: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and Paris to the Pyrenees by David Downie. I have also begun (and intend to read for the rest of my life) the unabridged version of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

les_miserables_ver11

2. Because of my great passion for la crepe and my Husband Goose, I have learned to prepare and serve breakfast crepes for him each morning. Of course, we buy our crepes from Whole Foods already cooked…. But I enjoy cooking the eggs and bacon and shredding the cheese to wrap up in the ready-made crepes. That still counts, right?

Breakfast Crepes September 21st, 2009 1

3. Who can possibly forget the swooning adventure of Mother Goose and her friends at the French Impressionism and Fashion exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago?

"At the Moulin Rouge" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“At the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

4. We have heard at GREAT LENGTH about her love for the now-shuttered Chicago restaurant La Creperie… God bless and comfort Germain, his family and friends as they grieve the lost of Jeremy.

la_creperie_exterior

5. Mother Goose is ever thankful for Pandora internet radio where she can actually fashion a personalized French music radio station, featuring some of her favorite songs and artists. Here’s the place to go for accordion music, bistro background noise and La Vie en Rose. I’ve named my station Autumn Leaves, and you’ll find me there most days between the hours of midnight and midnight.

Jerry King, of course!

Jerry King, of course!

6. Did I mention that my dear friend, Jennifer, and her husband are leaving for a twelve-day trip to southern France in the VERY near future? They will fly into Nice, travel by train throughout Provence and the French Riviera. Although this is not an official second honeymoon for this wonderful couple, they will undoubtedly find themselves madly and hopelessly in love with each other all over again after twelve days of French culture and scenery… Mother Goose wishes them a hearty Bon Voyage!

avignon-and-provence-by-train-s3

The only thing left for a goose to do is to redecorate our nest in a shabby chic French country style and continue to sip and sample the fine wines of the Bordeaux region. And dream of the day when I visit Paris…

eiffel_tower_at_night_paris_france-normal

Art Matters to a Goose

Many of my loyal readers have asked, “Mother Goose, does art even matter in this high-tech society?”

This story will address that question, and I’m sure that my most astute readers will already know the answer…

Mother Goose was kindly invited to join her friend, Linda, and Linda’s dear daughter, Sarah, on a trip to visit Chicago’s world-reknown Art Institute. Because I live in Oak Park (which is actually the center of the Universe), I was able to easily catch an “El” train downtown whereas my two lady friends had to ride in to the city from the far distant suburbs on a Metra passenger train. I arrived at the museum several minutes before they did and was able to take an early morning picture of one of the iconic lions.

You can almost see a lion behind the iconic head of Mother Goose...

You can almost see a lion behind the iconic head of Mother Goose…

The ladies arrived in due time, and together we began our exploration of the ever-growing and ever-changing Art Institute of Chicago. We made a unanimous decision to run quickly to the place of the special exhibit, “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity”.

This exhibit was wonderfully educational and inspirational. We ladies especially love the Impressionistic style of art — in fact, it’s really the only part of the museum that we ever see. Something about the colors, the great globs of paint, the light in the paintings, the Frenchness of it all. We absolutely adore Impressionism!

This exhibit looks at the fashion of the time, French haute couture, of course. The paintings are arranged topically and with the added bonus of seeing the actual dresses from those fashionable times. What a thrill to see the painting alongside the actual dress worn by the model in the painting! Mother Goose nearly fainted from the historic wonder of it all.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed within the area of the special exhibit. We frowned and made little mutters about that strict rule…but as soon as we left the special exhibit, our 21st century cameras clicked crazily in all directions. Well, actually, only the camera of Mother Goose was flashing and clicking as Sarah’s REALLY nice camera died of uncharged battery syndrome.

Let’s just let these photos speak for themselves…

"At the Moulin Rouge" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“At the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

"Water Lilies" by Claude Monet

“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet

"Cafe Singer" by Edgar Degas

“Cafe Singer” by Edgar Degas

"Two Sisters (On the Terrace) Plus one" by Peirre-Auguste Renoir

“Two Sisters (On the Terrace) Plus one” by Peirre-Auguste Renoir

Does art even matter?

If you ask these ladies who laughed, lushed and looped around the Art Institute of Chicago for more than five hours without even realizing how quickly time flies when you’re loving art, the obvious answer is a loud honk and a resounding, YES!

P.S. We also toured a related exhibit: “Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy” which explored informal dress and undress. Mother Goose was asked to stop her gawking and twitters in these galleries — seeing so many nudes makes a goose giggle nervously.

A Goose in a Garden

An unprecedented number of my readers expressed concern at yesterday’s post, “Wonderfully Wordless Wednesday.” There were an abundance of questions regarding the circumstances as well as the latest condition of Mother Goose as a result of that spill. I believe it’s time to set the record straight on that photograph…

First of all, Mother Goose is OK. I’ve suffered some patches of road rash, perhaps garden rash would be more accurate, to my left knee and a deeper gash to my lower calf, but thankfully no blood and no broken bones. Probably a side ache from laughing hysterically…

Mother Goose has been known to take a spill off her bike a few times in her life — always with a dramatic flair and an attitude of hilarity. I remember so well at the age of five when my father removed one of the training wheels from my bike, and then told me to just pedal and steer down the driveway. Of course, I quickly crashed into the rose bush.

[You may also remember that Dad taught me to drive a manual transmission car by pointing it up hill and telling me to just let the clutch out slowly whilst I give it a little gas…]

My dear sweet sister, upon hearing the news of last night’s garden crash, was quick to recall the time in junior high when our family had just moved to Hibbing — I immediately leaped aboard my bike and proceeded to explore the new neighborhood in high style. Unfortunately, my pedal caught the curb and down I went, sprawled out in the grass for all the world to see and laugh at.

My daughters and I have been enjoying this summer from the seats of our bikes — we free range about the town, checking in at various parks and places at all hours of the day or night. Last evening we had pedaled like mad to Taylor Park where we observed some serious tennis and climbed like monkeys to the tops of the playground equipment. We raced to friend Regina’s home to show off the new rear hubs on daughter Jessi’s trick bike — she can pedal backwards OR forwards and it’s called a “fixie”.

Sometimes we pedal with great purpose — sometimes we just meander around the streets and parkways of Oak Park. Sometimes we hear the song of Almira Gulch as we ride along. But always we laugh because we are so happy when we are riding.

The strange episode from last evening not only had me laughing my goose-like head off, but also warranted the uncommon concern of passersby who had witnessed the clown show and wondered as to my well-being. It’s probably a good thing that nobody offered me a breathalyzer…

I was coming in for a landing, trying to aim between the parked car and the flower bed. I realized that I was losing altitude rapidly and my air speed was perhaps just a little too fast for the weather conditions.

And then that s…l…o…w… motion fall.

Crashing slowly into the deer statue in our garden and breaking it off its stand.

Running over the candy-striped peppermint petunias.

Falling and falling, wondering if I would survive and if I did survive, what would be my quality of life…

Smashing across the concrete flower pot which felt like a boulder to my goose bottom.

And with my head landing under the giant leaves of the hosta, Mother Goose joyfully enjoyed the view from the lowly perspective of a bunny in a garden.

A lesson to be learned? The moral of the story?

Nah… We only live once — go for the gusto and the laughs! And just remember: a goose in a garden is a delight to behold!

I just had to post it one more time -- it's just so funny!

I just had to post it one more time — it’s just so funny!

A Mystery Novelist

A Mystery Novelist

A mystery novelist typing away,
She works through the night
She works day by day
Plots so twisty,
Characters so strange
To make the mystery look
Pre-arranged.

Image

A Grateful Goose

Today Mother Goose wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving — a beautifully loving day with your family and friends. Whatever else you are doing today, I wish you hugs, laughter and love.

I am a thankful old goose. I have much to be thankful for — each year I have more and more reason to say “thanks”. Indeed, everyday should be a grateful day. If we wake up with air in our lungs, we can say “thank you” to the Lord, to your God whoever you worship, or if you like to thank the universe for oxygen, that’s all good too.

My dear and special readers, thank you for returning often to this place. I do try to make you smile. Thanks for your sweet and encouraging comments and general remarks…

Thanks to my girlfriends who buy me chai teas and dinners and lunches and nice gifts. Thank you for calling me and texting me and driving all the way to Oak Park to visit me.

To my precious family up north, I love you and wish we could spend everyday together. I wish I lived next door to you all.

And I’m so very thankful to my children who hug me and take care of me and make me laugh and smile. You are such GREAT kiddos, all of you.

A special thanks to Adam and Erik for being so brave and joining the Navy and protecting us all. Sometimes your work is tedious, and the night watches and patrols seems endless, but I am just bursting with pride for you and inspired by your sacrifice. You could be doing anything, but you chose to do your time for Uncle Sam.

Thanks to my dear husband goose who has allowed me to explore who I am as a writer instead of pushing me to work full-time. Thank you for working hard and supporting our family.

Thanks to my supervisor at the “mystery shopping” center who has been kind enough to hire a silly goose.

Thank you, Jesus, for walking along with me on my life journey, and giving me strength when I was weak. Thank you for your grace which is everything!

I am finding it easier to say “thanks” for hard times. I really am learning to trust Him more when I don’t understand, when I can’t fix it myself, when things and life are out of my control but never out of His. I know that He’s not finished with me yet, I’m a work in progress that He’ll never give up on — and for that I can say “thanks”.

Happy Thanksgiving with love from Mother Goose.

The Faithful Friend of a Goose

Once again, Mother Goose must honk the praises of a very fine feathered friend. Michelle has been interested in me for such a long time — it’s almost scary to think about the years that have passed! When our middle children (Ben and Ellie) still had their long curly blonde baby hair, Michelle and I became BFF’s, and that was long before BFF’s were as common as they are nowadays.

Michelle and Mother Goose

She’s an incredible woman (as are all of the people who would consider a lifelong commitment to a goose), and she’s precious in so many ways. Let me count the ways right now, whilst I’m thinking of them:

1. Michelle is kind and thoughtful. She has helped me to pack up my kitchen more than once when I was moving. She has brought our family more meals than I can count and baked us more muffins than there are stars in the heavens. She writes me letters and sends them through the mail. She always remembers to ask about each of my goslings even though they are numerous.

2. Michelle is faithful. I know that Michelle is praying for Mother Goose. Perhaps she has even prayed life into me when I was feeling as droopy as a ragdoll. Her conversational prayers are not showy and all high-falutin’ and fancy like some churchy people — she talks to God wherever she is. She knows that He’s there too so we might as well talk to Him. Her husband was unemployed for more than a year, and Michelle never stopped believing that he’d get called back to his airplane mechanic job at United Airlines. Guess what? That’s where he is now!

3. Michelle is generous. Whenever I visit her, she gives! She gives hugs like they are going out of style. She gives whatever’s in her fridge or pantry. She gives little scraps of wisdom that she finds and saves just for me. She gives blankets, Fisher-Price kitchen sets, smiles and heart-to-hearts.

4. Michelle is brave. For as long as I’ve known her, Michelle has had ongoing troubles with bipolar disorder and needs to take various medications to stay stable. And like Mother Goose, she has a multiple sclerosis diagnosis on a medical chart somewhere in some neurologist’s office. Her migraine headaches are relentless in their attack, and sometimes her hands tremble. But does she ever complain about these ailments? No. Never. Not once. She takes it all in stride, trusting that tomorrow will be better.

If Mother Goose was to identify Michelle as a certain type of bird, I would call her a Purple Finch. She’s lovely and sociable with such a pretty song to sing. When we were neighbors in Carol Stream, I would enjoy hours of listening pleasure with the finches AND with Michelle. I pray all sorts of blessings on her today and everyday!

My finch of a friend, Michelle.

Where in the World is Mother Goose?

Mother Goose apologizes here and now for the lapse in my stories. I hope that you will bear with me as I push through this transitional time in the life of a goose. The reason for my absence as of late? Employment. Yes, it is true — Mother Goose has been hired by a national retail giant as a “mystery shopper” and now my life is not my own…

This change in employment has caused a name change as well. You may now call me Dark Goose.

Living incognito as Dark Goose…

Being undercover in this new stage in my life has both benefits and drawbacks as you may well imagine. Consider the benefits: a regular paycheck even during this intense time of training. Consider the drawbacks: I must always be on the alert, always watching my back. If my identity is compromised, I’m immediately “not necessary” and WHO KNOWS what that might mean…

Hence, I must ask you, dear and gentle reader, for a very large favor, and I hope that you will comply with much grace.

Please do not share this information with anyone.

Watching you as discreetly as possible, I remain forever, your Dark Goose.

Photo Ops with the Goose

On our recent family trip through Wisconsin and into the great state of Minnesota, there were plenty of opportunities for posing in front of stuff, proving our tourista status. Enjoy the wonderful Minnesota theme song and feel free to laugh out loud (or gasp) as you examine our pictures. Just take your time…

Stepson Eric climbing in central Wisconsin near Devil’s Lake. Mother Goose nearly fainted when she saw this picture…

Somebody posing with a mouse in Wisconsin…

A lovely carved totem pole in Blackduck, Minnesota.

Allen posing with the totem pole.

Yes, there IS a black duck in Blackduck, Minnesota.

Much patriotism in Minnesota.

And the grand finale in Squaw Lake, Minnesota. A real goose and a not so real goose…

What a wonderful, unforgettable time we had on our short vacation to northern Minnesota! Thanks so much for coming along on this report with Mother Goose, and for putting up with my silliness — again.

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