Blog Archives

Roomba Always on My Mind

One thing I noticed about this time of year is how a week ago, I was staring at the beautiful treasure at The Chicago Botanic Garden and now I see people tossing out their trees. Life keeps rolling on.  But I digress.

Splendid calm at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Splendid calm at the Chicago Botanic Garden

I was pretty quiet in 2015 and it was for a good reason because I was making many positive changes – the most impressive being that I am now employed at a place I love and have wanted to work for years.  I really enjoy my job and delight in my 1 mile and 1/2 jaunt to work! Not only do I get to wear purple – it is encouraged!  My quality of life in the last year has increased beyond my wildest expectations.

One of my favorite distractions has been learning how to play the guitar at my weekly guitar lesson down the street. It is quite the joy to be able to leave at 1:57 for a 2:00 lesson.  Over the past year, I have almost lost my prized purple pick more than a few times to which my teacher, Dan, can confirm.  Something happens when I leave my lesson and I think I am putting the pick in my pocket and I can never find it; but then I get home and it somehow finds it way on the floor of my walk-in closet.  While there are many more purple picks that can be purchased to replace that one, I have to have THAT one.  One week, my pick didn’t reappear before my next lesson and I showed up, dejected.  I walked in to see my smiling teacher holding my purple pick!   You would think he had given me a million dollars; it was a relief to be reunited with my pick!

My musical world kept in tune with my purple pick, tuner, and guitar, of course.

My musical world kept in tune with my purple pick, tuner, and guitar, of course.

We have worked on many songs and although I have been partial to Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline,  I am exploring other artists now because I like to do mash-ups of various songs and improvise some melody mixed in within the chords. Per Dan’s observation, a break-through moment was working on “Always On My Mind“.  It just flows for me, and I can easily connect with the song and not think when I play it. It gives me peace.

When I went to visit my brother and his family for Thanksgiving, I noticed a whirling circular object floating on the floor.  It was the robot-like vacuum cleaner Roomba.  While I had heard of it, I never thought I could afford one.  Sure enough, it was on sale at Costco so I bought it as soon as I got home.  My world has changed with Roomba!  I guess you are supposed to name it, but I haven’t gotten around to it and I digress, once again. Read the rest of this entry

Charming Christmas Lights 2015

It’s that time of year again!  The time to capture those delightful lights. The weather in the center of the US has been incredibly mild so I have yet to see the lights in snow, but I can’t say I am complaining since it has given me the opportunity to take long walks on many nights to take in the sights.

When I was a kid, I celebrated Christmas week in the rural midwest with my maternal grandparents and family. Christmas Eve was spent diving in gifts and wrapping paper in my grandparents’ living room. Afterwards, I had the option of doing the dishes or going to church.

On Christmas Day, my family and I would drive three blocks (still kind of crazy that we took the car) to see my eccentric great-aunt and gentle great-uncle, “the engineer” with a hard g. He was from Sweden and had really pretty eyes but when he spoke, it sounded like svenska gibberish, and I had no idea what he was saying most of the time.

When we arrived to the house, cousin Muggsy, an obnoxious Boston Terrier, would eagerly greet us by slobbering all over our legs, biting holes in nylons and causing overall chaos until he was gently directed to the basement. Muggsy morphed into Muggsy 2 and the trilogy ended with naming her last dog Hercules. Hercules made the previous Boston Terriers look like stuffed animals.

There were tons of homemade cookies in the back of the house and my other great-aunt would squeal, “Would you like to have a coooookie?” and her sister would back it up with, “Have one of eaaaaaach!”  But I digress.

I saw many wreaths with lights this year, but this one is my favorite.

I saw many wreaths with lights this year, but this one is my favorite.

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You Should Totally Write a Blog About That…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take It From Me.”  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself? This one is so simple. You just start a blog and write about….” I find myself saying that to so many people in my life.

Yet, It has been weeks, if not months, where I have gotten back on track with my own blog.  I keep giving myself an out with a cornucopia of vacuous excuses. I have the time NOW to do it and I haven’t.

Which leads me to the second bit of advice I give to everyone and abuse it chronically.  Do not squander time….”   

Instead of directing someone to write about the topics on my mind, it’s time to step it up and get it done myself.
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The 11th of Lauren

How can it be the 11th of Lauren, already? Birthday month is here!

Flashback: When my parents took me home from the hospital. They brought a fire truck, balloon, and a  baby.  That is the order of preference that my brother welcomed the gifts…

Despite early hesitation, my brother became one of my biggest fans.

Despite early hesitation about his little sister arriving on the scene, my brother  has become one of my biggest fans. I constantly make him laugh. I’m glad I can help, Bro.

Imagine having a month dedicated just to you. Our expectations are way too low. This one day nonsense for your birthday isn’t enough. Each year we have more things we want to do and run out of time. So it only makes sense that this homage to ourselves get expanded. In my case, the month formerly known as May is Lauren. Today is Lauren the 11th.

How does one partake in the Celebration of the Month of Lauren? Here are some easy ways to be successful that are inexpensive on the pocket-book but rich in thought:

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Mom to the Rescue

It’s Mother’s Day 2015 and here are some developments since my original post that is below this one.

Flashback to last June on Friday the 13th when I was moving out of my condo.

  • Things are going well as I plot my new adventure at my new home, yet to be discovered. As I float down the stairs of my condo hallway and hear the jingling of keys in my pocket, I am at peace.  Delight turn to fright as I discover that my car keys are in my pocket and my condo keys are in my condo and I am on the wrong side of the door. Cell phone in hand, tears build, as I anxiously await to hear my mom’s calming voice. “Mom, I need you now!”  Normally, my mom wouldn’t be home at the hour, but I caught her and she rushed over with the extra set of keys that she hadn’t returned to me yet! Morale: Mom came to the rescue, movers arrived and the rest of the day was seamless. Sigh.

  • After all these years, we still play tennis and if top spin was a spice, hers would be extra hot.

  • I have been taking guitar lessons since last fall. It can be frustrating learning how to play but, thankfully, I now have a really cool teacher who has turbo boosted my muscle memory that allows me to play all sorts of songs. However, I wouldn’t be playing the guitar if my mom didn’t buy it for me.

  • She grew up playing croquet and a group of us still play during the summer – thanks to the Croquet Hostess.  She continues to channel her hometown roots and destroy the competition on the course, despite her routinely asking which wicket she is supposed to be shooting the ball through.

  • Last year, she introduced me to the Puzzle Island section of the Chicago Tribune. Since then, every Sunday, I go to her place and remove the coveted wordplay section and head over to the coffee shop to exercise my brain.

  • In the winter, we take walks and look at lights.  In the warmer weather, we study the gardens and architecture of the homes.  At night, we walk over to the lake and gaze at the Chicago Skyline, tranquil lake, and twinkling stars over our heads. If the timing is right, the fireflies come along for the ride.

  • I got her a memory rock from the rock store down the street, a couple of week ago. Whenever she forgets something now, she says it’s because she doesn’t have her memory rock – because she forgot to take it with her.

May her warmth, generosity, and amusing witticisms continue to impress all of the people who are lucky enough to encounter her.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, thanks for creating memories with me!

A Rocky Selfie with Mom :)

A Rocky Selfie with Mom 🙂

5-12-13 It’s Mommy Time

This weekend, many Facebook profile and cover photos are composed of mothers, be it a flashback or a recent photo. This is done, obviously, as an homage to Mother’s Day. That’s one of the pros of Facebook. I’m fortunate that I get to hang out with my mom frequently. Here are some things that everyone loves about my mom, including me.

  • She has voluminous hair and she passed that on to me. When I was younger, I used to call her mane “Bozo hair” and she hated that. It wasn’t THAT red but it was full of curls and actually quite pretty. When she grew her “natural” hair color out, to the bedevilment of our hair stylist, I commented that it looked like an “upside-down banana split”. She also didn’t like that too much, either.

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Christmas Lights – Awesome Sights

When I was a kid, I would awaken Christmas morning to the hypnotic sound of the chirping bird on the Christmas Tree and the pitter patter of my maternal grandparents stirring about upstairs. My Christmas Stocking  greeted me with a chocolate marshmallow Santa, a ballpoint pen from the local bank, and a waiting-to be-ripe orange. I’m sure there was more in there – but that is what stands out as I write this memory.  Now these moments would be captured on social media or Facebook…but not then!

Here are some photos of Christmas lights to warm up your inner holiday spirit. It doesn’t appear it will be a White Christmas in my part of the world but this weather condition has allowed me the opportunity to stroll along the streets at night to take in the lights and not be cold!

House Outline - always impresses me, trust me, the top of the house exists...

House Outline and stars – a good beginning…

Pretty remarkable.

A bright colorful tree with Rudolph watching over things…

Introducing the Ho Ho Helicopter...

Introducing the Ho Ho Helicopter…

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Three Years of Believing and Achieving

Holy cow! Three years of blog magic. It’s here. I never thought I would be ranting and raving for over 4,380 days – wait, isn’t that 12 years?  Sorry, work on the brain, I was multiplying by 12 all day. 1,095 days…much better.

I have been neglecting my blog lately – actually all four of them…will get back on track. I haven’t done a free write in forever and it’s therapy for me so nobody really wins when I don’t write.

I have made some great blog friends over the years and I have enjoyed learning from them and getting their positive feedback – thanks for encouragement! For awhile I was trying to do the post-a-day thing and realized that was not practical. It was nice to have a topic given to me but it seemed forced.

Some points of interest: I’ve had Facebook fallout from not knowing how to direct someone  to the canned salmon, crabby opticians making my glasses look crooked for important events, constantly doing alumni outreach for my various events, and climbed the Willis (nee Sears) Tower two times with some intense Insanity workouts mixed in.  I have the coolest photo Read the rest of this entry

Christmas Light Delight

Last night, despite the frigid weather, I covered up in warm clothing so I could walk around town to complete my annual mission of capturing Christmas lights on film. The slabs of concrete were slick with ice and crunched as I spotted various delightful lit up displays. I waited for my blurred lenses to de-fog and used my fingers (slowly transforming into icicles) to snap some shots.

Starring...star lights!

Starring…star lights!

Classic Christmas Feel - with a wreath, of course!

Classic Christmas Feel – with a wreath, of course!

Love the wreath and all of the color!

Love the wreath and all of the color!

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Taken Too Soon

The other day, I read about a couple in Ontario, Canada, who had been married for over 56 years.  They were returning home from their weekend getaway in a snowstorm. Visibility had to be a challenge but they were no strangers to the Canadian winter road conditions. They were within ten miles of their destination when their car collided with an unloaded logging truck.  The driver of the truck was unharmed but the proud parents of six children and grandparents of 16 did not survive the crash.

Normally, I would gasp at reading such an account. However, in this case, I knew the victims. Slowly, it sunk in that the husband of my cousin had lost both of his parents in an instant. Read the rest of this entry

The Day Before Climbing The Willis Tower

Tomorrow, I take on the beast known as the WIllis Tower. It’s 2,109 steps, 103 floors and 1,353 feet above the ground. Whenever people hear that I am doing Skyrise Chicago 2013, they picture me scaling the building like Spiderman or should I say Spider-Dan ala Dan Goodwin. Whatever happened to that guy who donned a Spiderman outfit and had suction cups  for hands in the early 80s? But I digress.

My fundraising efforts have paid off (get it) and I’m delighted to say that the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will see an impressive increase from Team Support Lauren over last year.  I’m giddy with gratitude! My Facebook family has really stepped it up (oops, another pun) as well as the inner circle of people I can overload with spirited “give me your money” emails, who are really good-natured about it and supportive.

My training efforts had me climbing up and down a bunch of stairs at an outside venue with Lake Michigan as the backdrop.   On the weekends, I shared the stairs with fellow exercise enthusiasts.  I saw one guy who was probably in his 70s. He was taking two steps at a time and jumping up them.  I was impressed.

I also saw a quartet of pre-teen boys jumping off the high stone walls at the top of the stadium. It was like a cut scene from the early 80s movie, “The Outsiders” – with their younger siblings, of course.  Whatever happened to C. Thomas Howell?  Again I digress.

At one point, one of the boys declared that they should take their bikes down the stairs to the stage and ride in circles.  The grandma who was overseeing this scene didn’t think it was such a good idea.  I heard this loud thump after thump as the frame of the ring leader’s bike got smashed with each step and the rims got trashed!  He wasn’t carrying it down the stairs, he was almost pushing it down the stairs. Toward the bottom of the stadium, it was as if the bike had morphed into a dying horse as it spouted its last cough before its final collapse, teetering to the side.

The wheels were no longer round but misshapen like Read the rest of this entry

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