Blog Archives

Renewed Faith in Humankind

Every now and then, people do gracious gestures for people they don’t know. Good Samaritan or Mensch moments are magical. It’s so appreciated when people step up and make someone else’s life better with a little effort and consideration. While it’s nothing as dramatic as donating an organ; it is kindness and it matters. Who doesn’t like a feel-good moment?

The "El" Does Well

The “El” Does Well

This blurb below is written by my mom.  Read the rest of this entry

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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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Eat the Watermelon and Sing

 

The Month of Lauren had some amazing moments and I thank everyone who thought of me on the big day. I am very lucky! The month also had two notable losses. 

One of them was the untimely demise of a 53-year-old former colleague of mine. He was always very supportive of me, good-natured and funny. I haven’t seen him in four years but it seems like yesterday. “I’m on Team Lauren,” he would say as he greeted me with a big smile and exuded positivity.

The other loss was my guitar teacher’s 82-year-old mom who was in the hospital for quite a few weeks before dying a few days after Mother’s Day.  I had never met her but opted to show support by attending her memorial and get a mental snapshot of the person who had brought this encouraging and witty wordsmith, my guitar teacher, into the world.

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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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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

Supportive but not Smothering

A frequent adventure during my childhood was visiting this big mansion – this house was huge by our family’s standards.  It was the biggest house where we actually knew the people who lived there.  The mom and dad who lived inside with their three sons became fixtures in our lives. 

The two dads played tennis together on a regular basis. Our families spent many holidays together, often camping and cross-country skiing.  

Upon arrival at the mansion, the two fathers would disappear into a room and watch football while I hung out with the two mothers (who would be besties for life) in the kitchen. We nibbled on onion dip and potato chips as I held my doll.  The mother with the long black hair tied into a single braid in back would smile at me as she shook her head: Read the rest of this entry

Dazzling Christmas Lights

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 drove) 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 looks like stuffed animals.

As an adult, I stopped traveling north for Christmas but since Thanksgiving, I have been taking long walks after dinner to admire the Christmas lights. Ironically, we have had no snow on the ground, until today.  Here are some photos of treasures taken on my walks. Read the rest of this entry

The Wind Up Is…

Last week, I lost one of my favorite people, GREAT Uncle Joe. He was like my third grandpa. For 99 years, he disarmed people with his charm, engaged people with his animated storytelling and had the most wonderful laugh! At times, he knew more about me than I did. “The Wind Up Is” that we were spoiled for a very long time. I’ll miss our weekly bonding sessions but am so thankful for our time together.

Always a good time with Uncle Joe, even when I was giving him a check up as a kid.

Joe was not only passionate about sports all of his life, but was a very successful editor at the Chicago Daily News, with but a 10th grade education. There was a really nice article in the Chicago Sun-Times about him last Tuesday afternoon and I read it frequently. He always impressed me with how he worked his way up and had an amazing work ethic but also had time to know everything about everyone in the family. The Chicago Sun-Times referred to him as a Read the rest of this entry

Prove Those Naysayers Wrong!

Subliminal advertising: I am now on Twitter!  Follow me, you’ll feel better. The blog needs love. We all do!  @reinrantnrave.  That’s easy to remember.

I don’t have many cousins, so the ones I have are on cloud nine with the creative attempts I make to ensure that we stay in touch. 

My maternal side of the family has three cousins and we always had a lot of fun together during our winter and summer visits, despite their living on the Canadian border and I in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

One summer, my grandpa had dropped off our cousins at their other grandparents house.   Alas, the end of our visit would inevitably occur.  Grandpa would always take us to Hamburger Hollow on the way back and buy us an ice cream cone.  After one visit, my brother and I were so sad about losing our playmates, that we turned the ice cream down.  Grandpa was dazed.  Read the rest of this entry

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