Blog Archives

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Lake Michigan Tour

These last 12 months have been one of many changes.  All of them, positive; although I may not have known it at the time.  One of them is that I can walk or ride my bike along Lake Michigan to get to work and start my day with a  stunning view such as the one below.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

Last week, my old chum from high school, Rich Cohen, sent me his latest article in the New York Times.  It’s a fun read that makes you feel like you are in the car with him as he visits Read the rest of this entry

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Life with a Gator

15 years ago, I bought a third floor, triple exposure, walk-up condo in the heart of a college town.  It offered a daily workout with the stairs and amazing treetop views but there was no outside space, among other things.

Flashback to the night before the move to the condo:

My brother is a Mensch. He flew into “help me move”.  When he offered his services, he thought he was helping me “settle in” my new condo. He was wrong.

The afternoon before, he arrived at my apartment to survey the situation.  I assured him that I was in good shape.

Bro: “Where are the boxes?”

Sis: “Huh?”

Bro gets on phone: “Dad, she hasn’t packed anything, there are no boxes!”

My dad, his then-girlfriend and my brother scoured the neighboring towns for crates and packing vessels to enable safe transport of my belongings. I just pointed and they packed. Really!

A few days after getting organized in the second bedroom of my new place, I saw a massive object on the floor. I thought it was a mangled car tire.  It wasn’t.  It was a condo warming present from my brother and the perfect gift for one without an outside space. Read the rest of this entry

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

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

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

Those Dirty Dancing Days

Years ago, in the early 1990s, I had a deep water phobia so I took three cruises in a year-in-a-half.  For the first cruise, I went with my two best friends from college.  One evening, we went exploring and came across a dancing contest. The movie, Dirty Dancing, was all the rage back then.

People looked at me and I was typecast.  (like the time I was cast at the “little old woman” as a four-year-old because of the glasses ).  But this time I was thrown on stage because I looked like Jennifer Gray.

"Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner"

“Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner”

While I loved the movie, I could not dance. This was a dancing contest so I had major concerns.

I was pushed onto stage with Heinz from Switzerland. A blond-haired blue-eyed John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever in the making.

I've Got the Moves!

I’ve Got the Moves!

His sexy accent and Read the rest of this entry

Symphonic Sounds of Summertime

I grew up on a bustling block in the north shore of Chicago.  The location offered many conveniences such as being within three blocks of all of my schools until I entered high school (but I still walked there, too).  Very few footsteps led me to a plethora of tennis courts, a massive playfield, lagoon and bike path that ended at a floral paradise and I was within blocks of the many offerings of downtown.

However, what I remember most of my childhood on that convenient street was the cocoon of camaraderie, fun, and safety.  One could hear the symphonic sounds of summertime and see a string of smiles!

My brother always had my back, on our block, when we were growing up

My brother always had my back, on our block, when we were growing up

There were tons of kids on that street. We would play “Kick the Can” until the parents would start calling our names to go in, sibling by sibling.  We’d have block parties.  We’d jump in swimming pools made of plastic that were less than a foot deep and thought we had it made.

We could hear the bouncing of a basketball before it took aim and swooshed through the net. The woosh of the wiffle ball as it soared across a yard. Neighbors would just play in one’s yard even if the homeowner wasn’t there.  We could hear the smacking sound of the tennis ball hitting the garages and the groan as another tennis ball made its way into the gutter, resulting from an overeager groundstroke.

Getting Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: