More Fun and Love in the Hinterlands

Mother Goose and her goslings recently traveled to nordern Minnesota to visit the family. Let’s just say, the Hinterlands is another world away from Oak Park…

There’s something for everyone at the Frame Farm.

A little barn charm...

A little barn charm…

Chickens roosting in their coop...

Chickens roosting in their coop…

All American patriotism...

All American patriotism…

In the summer there are turkeys...

In the summer there are turkeys…

Turkey in a roasting pan...

Turkey in a roasting pan…

A friendly lap dog...

A friendly lap dog…

A very large lap dog...

A very large lap dog…

The Father of the Goose...

The Father of the Goose…

A glorious sunset...

A glorious sunset…

Mother Goose is blessed to belong to a family that just overflows with love and fun. Our journey “up north” was wonderfully filled with great times, delicious eats and much laughter. Thank you for stopping by to visit with Mother Goose today. God bless you!

Mother Goose Travels to the Hinterlands

There are times when Mother Goose hears the Call of the Wild…

At those times, she loads up the goslings into the Goosemobile, sets the autodrive button to “up north”, and hangs on for dear life as they all fly up the road to visit familiar faces and places. Last week was one of those times…

In eleven short hours, we traveled from Oak Park to Keewatin, Minnesota where the sister of a goose lives. She and her dear hubby were so happy to put us up for a couple of nights. We happily enjoyed some brisk walks along the Mesabi Trail with Bunn, Allen and their hero dog, Dusty. Along the way, they always meet up with people to visit with — either their dear friend Joe and his dog, Remmi or the village mayor or the driver of a large Caterpillar loader who was clearing away some of the snow from the trail. Everybody knows your name and is your friend in Keewatin.

The Mesabi Trail stretches from Grand Rapids all the way to Ely, Minnesota.  Thousands of hikers and bikers traverse its beautiful winding ways twelve months out of the year...

The Mesabi Trail stretches from Grand Rapids all the way to Ely, Minnesota. Thousands of hikers and bikers traverse its beautiful winding ways twelve months out of the year…

We did a lot of laughing over the course of the visit…

A sister and a goose.

A sister and a goose.

Please come back next time when Mother Goose tells you the story of the little farm in the Hinterlands…

Happy Birthday to Bunn

image

The precious baby sister of Mother Goose went and turned fifty today!! She’s so beautiful, isn’t she? Her little hero pup, Dusty, loves to take selfies.

Mother Goose Salutes Miss Murriel

[Mother Goose does not often share stories back and forth between her two blogs, but this one was too good to NOT share…so this is from mothergoosesalutes.wordpress.com but you lucky readers can read it right here!]

Mother Goose is proud to introduce you to her friend, Miss Murriel — the beautiful woman pictured below. We have known each other for about five months, but we believe that our friendship was in place long ago. She’s just that kind of a person — Mother Goose met her and fell in love with her for life and beyond.

The reason that Mother Goose is saluting Murriel today is because she is a TRUE American hero — she’s not one of these Yankee Doodle dandies all waving the flag and singing the National Anthem but not really caring a lick for the veterans, the servicemen and women, and the families who know what true American sacrifice is all about. Murriel cares because she knows first hand what it’s like to be a Navy wife, a Navy widow, a Navy mother and as of this past Sunday, the woman who saved the life of a suicidal veteran.

Yes. She did that.

David, Husband Goose, Murriel and Kevin

David, Husband Goose, Murriel and Kevin

Murriel grew up in Cleveland County, Mississippi through the 1950’s and into the ’60’s. There were thirteen children in her family — she was the seventh of the bunch. Her family worked a farm — picking cotton by hand was still the way to make a living in those times. The summers were hot and the kids all enjoyed a dip in the pond when their work was done. Her aunties lived in town and had good plumbing for taking showers so Murriel and her sisters would go to visit them often.

She married her childhood friend, Bobby Jenkins, just before he left for Navy boot camp. When he came home on leave from southeast Asia in 1968, she presented him with his newborn son. The sailor returned to duty in Vietnam, and then tragedy came in the form of Navy officers and a chaplain at her door with the terrible news that her husband had made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Murriel held her newborn daughter and her toddler son and cried.

By that time, she had moved to Chicago with other sisters and brothers. Her sailor husband was buried in the church cemetery in Cleveland County.

Life goes on, and she was able to pick up the pieces. She eventually remarried — a Navy veteran actually — and worked as a registered nurse and raised her family. She had another son, and the two sons grew up to be sailors as well. The older of the two was serving in October 2000 at the time of the suicide bombing of the USS Cole and was part of the rescue team for that horrible tragedy when seventeen American sailors lost their lives and an additional 39 were injured.

Because of the horror of that rescue operation, Murriel’s son was hospitalized in a catatonic condition in the hospital for seven months. His mother sat by his side, praying for his own healing and recovery. Today he is fine and works as an inventory manager in a large grocery store chain. Murriel is very proud of all of her children, but this one checks up on her most often, protecting her and defending her against any and all harm that may befall her.

Murriel’s heart is all about helping the veterans, and she volunteers her time at our Easter Seals office every week. She is active in her church, New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, in Chicago. She cares for heroin babies and advocates for them in the court system. She checks in on veterans who are living in church-sponsored apartments in the neighborhood.

And here’s the bottom line of this story:

This past Sunday, Murriel was checking in on one of the vets. She visits often but he seldom opens his door — many of the vets prefer to be left alone with their problems and their PTSD, but Murriel knows how important it is to keep checking on them. His door was unlocked so she walked into the apartment, searching the rooms for this troubled man.

She found him sitting in a chair in his room with the barrel of a handgun in his mouth.

“No!” she screamed and rushed at him.

Murriel walks with a cane because her knee is bad, but she still managed to get to the man and pull the loaded gun out of his mouth. The barrel was actually pointed directly at her when he finally took his finger off the trigger. She wrestled it away from the poor hopeless man, screaming the whole time. “Stop it, you gotta stop this, put that gun down NOW!”

Other people heard the commotion and came running. Somebody called 9-1-1, and the paramedics arrived. They put the straitjacket on him and took him away to the suicide watch ward of the hospital. Before they closed the door of the ambulance, Murriel got in the last word:

“When you get out of the hospital and you’re feeling better, I’m gonna kill you!”

She’s so precious to Mother Goose — that’s just the kind of friend and Hero she is…

The Perch Party

Mother Goose smiles when a small idea becomes a BIG production!

It is a fact of nature that people, plants and animals start out tiny and then grow into miraculous and wonderful living organisms, and it was a fact of life yesterday that a little plan blossomed into a wonderful and loving Perch Party.

Knowing that David (a U.S. Marine who has fallen on rough times and has no home) likes perch, the wheels in the feathery head of Mother Goose began to turn. What kind of perch is best to serve? How do I prepare it? Where will I purchase it? And can I even do this, having never cooked fishy things before except those easy and adorable fish sticks from Captain Gorton?

Enter Kevin, my comrade from Easter Seals and a lifelong fisherman and outdoorsman. His recommendation was to serve up Lake Perch as fresh as I could possibly muster. Of course, Mother Goose is NOT one to hold a fishing pole, especially in single-digit weather conditions.

However, a quick side note: Brother Goose and his dear wife have done MUCH ice fishing this winter in their really nice camper/ice house. With cousins and friends, they pull their camper out three or four miles onto some GREAT big lakes in nordern Minnesota and set up a little fishing town where they conveniently fish from the comfort of their warm rolling home and watch NASCAR races on the big screen.

But oh my gooseness, I digress…

Mother Goose happily added Kevin to the guest list, knowing that his cooking expertise would be valuable in the preparation of The Perch. And then the wheels turned a little bit more, and Mother Goose remembered her friend, Ms Murriel, who absolutely LOVES to cook for people and lives to see the happy faces of folks who have eaten more than their fill of a good dinner.

Mother Goose invited Ms Murriel who immediately offered to bake a lemon meringue pie. Everybody KNOWS how much Mother Goose loves pie…

All of the puzzle pieces for the Perch Party were in place — fish bought and breaded, spaghetti water boiling, salad tossed, pie chillin’ and we ladies chatting in the kitchen, waiting for the gentlemen to arrive when all of a sudden the phone of Mother Goose rang! I missed the call, but there was a voicemail from David saying that he was having phone problems, trying to reach Kevin, and would be on his way to meet him there.

But we didn’t know where “there” was, and we could not figure out where David was and would Kevin please find this man and please deliver him to the Perch Party SOMEHOW.

And Kevin did. Kevin always rescues somebody — he is one of my most special heroes, and you can go read more about him by clicking here…

Oh the food was delicious! If anyone ever asks, Lake Perch is about a thousand times better than ocean perch which is why Mother Goose capitalized it. And the meatballs and sauce prepared by Husband Goose — mmmmm, he’s got that recipe down just fine. And the bottle of German wine that Kevin provided was the perfect complement to the dinner. And I don’t even need to tell you how Mother Goose swooned at the first mouthful of lemon meringue pie…

But, my dear and loyal readers, what set this Perch Party apart and above and beyond all normal meals was the delightful and thought-provoking conversation and loving fellowship around the table. Sometimes the food can be tasty, the music playing softly in the background, the candles lit and glowing brightly, but the dinner falls flat because there is no love.

We enjoyed an abundance of love at our Perch Party. The Lord lavished His grace on us, and our conversations were sprinkled with the sweetest words of wisdom and kindness. There was much laughing and a little teasing and a heart-felt camaraderie amongst us.

Can a goose get anymore grateful?

Thank you for coming to The Perch Party of Mother Goose…

Brother David, Husband Goose, Ms Murriel and dear Kevin.

Brother David, Husband Goose, Ms Murriel and dear Kevin.

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…

Little by Little, Lawrence’s Life is Looking Up

Mother Goose wanted to update her dearest and most caring readers on the improving life conditions of her friend, Lawrence Little. You may remember that Lawrence has been living on the streets of Chicago off and on for more than a year…sleeping on the “L” and begging door-to-door for money for food and whatever.

He has now found temporary housing in an apartment building about two miles from the Goose residence — another resident is unofficially subsidizing his rent until he gets things together a little better. THAT is very good news!

Last Thursday evening, there was a great deal of urgent knocking on our front door around about the time when Mother Goose is washing up the dishes and helping the little ones with their homework. Husband Goose answered the door to discover an extremely OVERJOYED Lawrence standing at the threshold.

“Where’s Ms Natalie? Is she here? I’ve just gotta tell her my good news!” I heard him coming down the hall towards the kitchen.

“Lawrence? Is that you?”

“Ms Natalie, I got a job! I got a job! I start tomorrow! I got a job!”

One of the most charming traits of dear Lawrence is his unspoiled and pure view of life. Despite years of hard living and imminent danger and uncertainty, he maintains a precious and hopeful outlook on life. Only the Lord knows the troubles he’s seen, and yet he literally shouts for joy when life takes a turn for the better.

As it turned out, he was indeed starting a job the next day at the Costco warehouse in the city. The only challenge was how to get there on time, and Husband Goose graciously offered to buy Lawrence a one-week bus pass so he could get to his new place of employment hassle free.

As we were driving to church on Sunday, Mother Goose spotted Lawrence walking his hip-hop step down the sidewalk in the same direction as we were going. We stopped and picked him up, and sure enough he was heading for church as well. He immediately began to tell us about an incident that had already happened to him that morning. He had seen a guy on the street who owed him money, and asked if the fellow could pay him back. Apparently the guy grabbed Lawrence around the neck and shook him like a rag doll, and swearing at him, vowed no, he wasn’t going to pay him back that morning…

Lawrence was pretty upset about that, and frustrated with himself for fighting back with the guy. But by the time we arrived at the theater for church, he seemed better. He eagerly told many of his friends there about his new job at Costco. He also began asking folks for help getting a bus pass for the second week of work as we wouldn’t be paid until he had worked for two weeks.

He sat with us for worship, and the heart of Mother Goose was broken for this man, a brother in the Lord, as he prayed and cried out to God and wept for deep thanksgiving and joy that he had found work. I passed him a hand full of tissues and hugged him with all of my feathery might, to comfort him and make him know that he is indeed loved and respected and cherished.

Later on that evening, Lawrence stopped by as we were just sitting down to a light supper. He asked for hot chocolate and in fact, drank two mugs before he left. He also enjoyed an Italian sausage, but preferred not to take any mashed taters or broccoli — of course, Mother Goose chided him a little for not eating his veggies. As he ate, he doodled and talked happily about how excited he is about his new job. He had completed orientation and would begin the actual work the next day.

Costco

He is such a joy to be around!

Please pray that this work will fill him with purpose and hope. Please pray that he will make it to work on time everyday. Please pray that we can continue to support him in whatever way the Lord would direct.

Praise God for a man like Lawrence who has taught us so much about life and love.

Is There An Answer to the Dilemma of Lawrence?

Dear and kind-hearted readers, what is the solution to chronic homelessness in America? Wow, Mother Goose, that’s pretty huge for this early in the morning. Can you tone it down a bit?

OK.

Our friend, Lawrence Little, returned to our home on Monday which is the day after Sunday which is the day that we brought Lawrence to church with us. He sat at our kitchen table and drank a large mug of hot chocolate with Husband Goose. (Mother Goose was not present for this meeting as she occasionally works at a part-time job…) Recounting the previous day with our church pastor, Chuck Colegrove, Lawrence said that indeed the pastor did take him into the city to The Safe Haven Foundation, but there is a two-week waiting list to be allowed into their program.

Mother Goose is indeed grateful for all of the help that our church has shown Lawrence in the past eighteen months. Here is an excerpt from my pastor’s email describing just some of the care they have provided to our friend:

We have helped Lawrence on several occasions since first meeting him back in the Fall of 2012. We paid for 1 month of housing while he was seeking a job, paid for bus passes on 4-5 occasions that he secured a job or was about to secure a job….you’re right, helping with money isn’t necessarily the best option….when we’re able to, we help.

I’m hoping that Safe Haven will get him on the right path. He’s had several opportunities in the last year with jobs but can’t seem to hold it down.

Chuck has also offered to write a referral for Lawrence if he needs something like that to speed up the housing process at Safe Haven. Thank you, Chuck, for all you do to bring joy and love to a dark and fearful world.

I may have mentioned that Lawrence does his “rounds” through the city — knocking on the doors of kindly people who have helped him in the past. Husband Goose described him as having a “rolodex of helpers” in his head, and I believe that is an accurate picture of how he survives. One day at a time, one handout at a time, one bit of help from his friends is enough to get him to the next day.

Obviously many people have shown him love and kindness. Many people have directed him to job opportunities and housing opportunities. I am sure that somewhere in this large city he has at least one case manager who has filled out the proper intake forms and has done everything to get him into the system of public care. He has had money in the past — according to his story, he used to have a LOT OF MONEY in the days when he was a street performer doing break dancing on a cardboard mat on Michigan Avenue…

He’s an artist as well.

Lawrence has been prayed for and preyed upon. The mean streets of Chicago can be rough — a stark contrast to the kindness of the people who God puts in his life to care for him in manifold ways every single day.

Is there an answer to homelessness in America?

I don’t know if there is anything else that can be done except for this one thing:

We must not lump all of God’s homeless people into one big category and call it The Homeless Dilemma.

Each and every one of those people at the busy intersections and sitting along the avenues with their cups and their cardboard signs is a real person with a history of good times and hard times. Each and every individual who wanders the streets looking for a way to get somewhere else has a story to tell.

They have souls that require as much nourishment as their physical bodies.

They need a hug and an ear to listen to them — they say they need money, but what they might need more is a short-term connection to someone who might give them hope for another day.

Hope is a survival tool for those who have little else to carry with them.

My friends, do what you can. One person at a time is enough. Give them the time of day, give them a hug, give them a mug of hot chocolate, but whatever you do, give them hope.

Mother Goose thanks you.

This is not Lawrence.  I have never photographed my friend, not wanting to seem exploitative in any way.

This is not Lawrence. I have never photographed my friend, not wanting to seem exploitative in any way.

The Return of Lawrence Little

The earth circles around the sun, and a homeless man reappears on the doorstep of Mother Goose.

So many of my most astute and loyal readers will remember my three-part series last year regarding Lawrence Little, a homeless man of God who came into my life and forever changed my view of homelessness in America. Go ahead and click here if you’d like to review that story…

Mother Goose has been referring to 2014 as The Year of Miracles, and I’ve been privately documenting miracles, “coincidences”, and random happenstance circumstances since Thanksgiving. Maybe THAT’s why Mother Goose hasn’t had time to write stories for my adoring public!

Anyway, I would certainly consider this “chance” meeting as one of my miracles…

Winter at our house...

Winter at our house…

The Land of Oak Park has received an enormous amount of snow this winter, and the polar vortex has moved into our village to stay. Often, I will finish my inside-the-house-chores in the evening and then don my warm jacket, boots, hats, scarves and gloves and mittens to go out to attend to the daily snowfall.

Last night was no different — I had just begun to sweep the soft fluffy flakes off of my porch when I heard a voice calling out, “Hello, ma’am!” Out of my peripheral goose eye, I noticed a bundled up man walking along the sidewalk. I greeted him with a “hello” but certainly did not want to engage in night-time conversation with a stranger so I didn’t look at him…

I continued with my frenzied sweeping of the downy flakes of snow as though it was the only thing that mattered.

And when I looked up from my focused and serious work, the man was walking towards me and my porch, and I looked full on into his face for the first time — in about a year.

“Ma’am, it’s me, Lawrence Little. Your grandfather’s name is Lawrence, I know it is. Ma’am, could I do your shoveling for you? I’ve been living on the streets and it’s been a horrible winter, and I could do this work for you…”

As he walked closer into the porchlight, I did indeed recognize him. We shook hands warmly and smiled at each other. Yes, indeed, it was my dear homeless friend, Lawrence.

Of course, Mother Goose can never say “no” to Lawrence, never could, never will. I handed him the snow shovel and went inside to ask Husband Goose for $20. “Lawrence Little is here,” I honked excitedly. “He’s going to shovel for us!”

Handing the cash to Lawrence, we began to catch up with our lives over the past year. He’s still living on the streets, sleeping on the “L” at night — the elevated train that transports commuters and travelers over 100 miles of track in, on, under and over the city of Chicago. It’s a dangerous place to sleep, especially if you are a kind-hearted, harmless, homeless, and rather short-statured man as Lawrence is.

I asked him about his church, Life of Liberty Worship Center. He said yes, he’s still going there now and then. He asked me if I had found a church home yet, and I gladly reported that we were attending a church that meets at the Lake Street Theatre in Oak Park.

“Oh FREE CHURCH!” Lawrence knew immediately who I was talking about. “I know the Pastor there. His name is Chuck, and his wife is very tall and beautiful.”

“Urshanna,” I helped him with our pastor’s wife’s lovely and unusual name.

“Yes, and I was walking past the laundromat, and the Lord told me to go inside, and they were wearing red T-shirts and she offered to pay for my laundry. I laughed and said ‘Well, I don’t have any laundry, only the clothes I’m wearing’ and they were very kind and she called her husband and he came to the laundromat and gave me money so I could stay in a hotel.”

He continued to tell me how he sometimes attends worship and though I’ve never seen him there, he knew all the details of our church service and the names of other brothers and sisters there.

What an amazing miracle!

Please stay tuned for my next story about Lawrence Little — we enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate together at the kitchen table. Yes indeed we did.

The Goose is Back

Mother Goose is back. After a much needed sabbatical, I’m rested and recovered and revived and ready to tell some brand new stories. Who can ever tell why a goose must take a break from her blog? Who can explain the sudden aversion to the compound word, WordPress? How do some writers keep writing and some need to fall off the wagon for awhile?

Obviously, life for these past six weeks have been jam-packed with adventures — to be sure, my life has never lacked for subject matter. We had a lovely Christmas holiday, a fun and surprising New Year (yes, Mother Goose woke from a deep sleep and jumped off the couch at exactly midnight, surprising the family with a dance that included much jumping and flapping and merriment!) and January has proven to be one theatrical performance after another.

Whew! The goose has been on the loose!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? How’s that working for you? It’s been nearly a month since January 1, and my resolution is still holding strong. And here is what I resolve for 2014:

Always dance in the Kitchen.

In the home of Mother Goose, the kitchen is the place where most of the action takes place and most of the goslings hang out. What better place to dance? One of the priceless gifts I received for my birthday last month was a G-Pop wireless and bluetooth audio speaker, and so I simply connect my favorite Pandora stations to the G-Pop and CRANK IT UP.

Pandora radio is such fun! I have created nearly one hundred channels! So much selection, so many favorites, so many thumbs up! Since the beginning of the year, I have been mostly listening to the Family Road Trip station and the Lenny Kravitz station. Yes, I know — eclectic tastes for a goose, indeed.

Anyway, imagine the scene as Mother Goose is preparing the meals:

There is twirling and whirling, stepping and stomping, dipping and tripping, wings extended and tail wagging.

There is giggling and wiggling, peeking and winking, oblivious to the stares and intensity beyond compare.

goosedancing

Mother Goose has found the perfect combination of exercise and entertainment — it’s good for the goose and good for the gander!

They may laugh at my moves, but in the long run, they will remember this has been a very Happy New Year.

I hope you’ll return tomorrow to hear the story of Mother Goose and the Phantom of the Opera, opening night at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago….oh my gooseness!

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