March 29, 2009

Starting The Birthday Celebration Early

Birthdays are going to come whether you want them to or not so my philosophy is, celebrate any chance you get. Since I won't be here on my birthday four of my women friends took me to the Ritz this afternoon for "high tea," only we drank champagne instead. Makes so much sense, doesn't it?
I love my women friends. They're my anchor. They're always there to talk to, to confide in, to share things with, to bounce things off of. My life would not be complete without them.
From left to right they are Lauren, Joann, Me, Claire and Barbara.

March 26, 2009

Rome, Here I Come

Next week at this time my Bill and I will be in Rome celebrating my 60th birthday. 60???? How the hell did that happen? It's a cruel joke, I think. I can't really be 60.
I see people who are 60 and I think, "Wow, 60. That's old." And then I realize that's me in less than a week. I think the key to dealing with it is to drink lots of vino and just spend the next 25 years in denial.

March 22, 2009

Tax Headache - Hmmm...Isn't That Redundant?

I've been working on my taxes all day, trying to get them done before we leave for Italy on the 31st, and I am freaking out. What a hateful task.
I'm listening to Italian tapes while I'm doing it, hoping I'll learn through osmosis, that it'll just seep into my brain, cuz I'm not paying that much attention. However, if I get audited I will be able to say, "Io non capisco."
Ah, well...that's enough of this tax crap. Time for some vino.

March 19, 2009

Court Appointed Special Advocate

In Cook County there are about 10,000 kids every year who are abused and/or neglected. Staggering numbers. These kids need our help. I volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for the Juvenile Court system in Cook County. CASAs are appointed by judges to insure that children have an objective voice in court and that their best interests are being served.
For almost two years I've worked on a case where there are three children in two different foster care placements - they are the 8th, 9th and 10th children of a drug-addicted mom, all born drug-exposed. The natural father of two of the children has been working to gain custody of his kids and has done everything the court has asked him to do; he's taken parenting classes, he has no contact with the natural mother, he gets tested for drugs regularly (has always been negative), and he travels three hours by bus twice a week to see his children.
Recently he was hospitalized, due, I was told, to a recurrence of a cancer he'd had in the past. On Tuesday this man died. Very sad. He was a good man. He wasn't trying to shirk his responsibilities, he was trying to correct past mistakes and take care of his children. It's a heartbreaking ending to this situation. Fortunately all three children are in good homes and the foster moms will keep them safe. That's what I work to ensure.
I've been a CASA volunteer for more than seven years and have found it vital and rewarding work. This is the perfect volunteer opportunity for people who are looking to make a difference in the life of a child.
If you're interested in getting involved call CASA of Cook County at 312-433-4928. Or look up the CASA office in your area. It's a nationwide organization.

March 14, 2009


You'd think everyone in Chicago was Irish today. As I walked through the streets of the city every other person was wearing green. It's the day of the St. Patrick's Day parade, after all. There were some really elaborate things, like huge, wild green hats, green feather boas, bright green boots and even one guy with dyed green hair.

And of course they dye the river green, which is amazing. What other city does that? And it's not just green, it's GRRRREEEEEEEEEN. They pour in an orange powdery compound and look what it does. It wasn't easy to get a good picture cuz there's so much construction along the river but here are a couple that aren't bad.

March 7, 2009

Whose memory is it anyway?

When I was in Miss Kerlin's 5th grade class at Fulton Elementary School in Toledo, Ohio, Claudia Mitchell and I had the dubious honor of delivering milk to the kindergarteners. We collected the milk money from the kindergarten teachers and then went to the basement of the school where the milk machines were. We'd put the coins in the machines and get the milk, chocolate or white according to the list, put it in the iron crates we carried and then deliver it to the classrooms.
One day we got the milk and carried the crates into the restroom so we could pee before we went to the classrooms. We were washing our hands when all of a sudden Mrs. Wigfield (I'm not making up that name), the school principal, stormed into the washroom, hollering at us for bringing the milk in there and how unsanitary that was. She marched us right up to our classroom and told Miss Kerlin and the whole class about this horrible thing we had done. She said not only would they have to throw out all the milk, but we would be stripped of our duty as milk monitors. I was horrified, humiliated. But jeez, it's not like the milk wasn't in sealed cartons. It's not like we swished them around in the toilets. What was up with that? How was it unsanitary to take milk cartons into a bathroom? What a nut job Mrs. Wigfield was.
So anyway, some years later, maybe about 10-15 years ago, I was with my friend Karin whom I went to grade school with and we were reminiscing about those days, and she came up with the memory about the milk in the bathroom. Only in her memory it was her, Karin, with Claudia who was caught by Mrs. Wigfield. I know as sure as I sit here that it was me, I remember the whole scene in great detail, I remember my utter embarrassment in front of my classmates. It couldn't have happened twice, especially not both times with Claudia. And Karin wasn't even in our class. She stole my memory!

That's me, first row, second from the right, the little dork with the bucked teeth and glasses. Four kids to my right is Jim Evans who was my boyfriend in 8th grade. Claudia is behind me in the second row, first on on the right, directly in front of Miss Kerlin. I could name nearly every kid in that class!

March 14, 2009: Well, here's a fitting postscript to this story: When my sister saw that school picture of mine she sent me an email that said, "I wanted to comment on the class picture. It is my 5th grade class picture, sorry to tell you." And she goes on to name some of the kids, incorrectly of course. Clearly it says 1959-60 which are the years I was in fifth grade but she couldn't read that. All those class pictures look alike but still, it's funny to me that she thinks it's her picture. Why is everyone trying to steal my memories?

March 5, 2009

Rod Blagojevich Superstar!

Bill and I went to Second City to see their spoof, Rod Blagojevich Superstar! which is quite funny. It uses some of the music from Jesus Christ Superstar so they sing, "Blagojevich...Superstar, Are you as nuts as we think you are?"
The characters are Rod and Patti, Lisa Madigan, Dick Mell and of course Roland Burris, and the numbers are really creative, some are just hysterical, all cleverly done. It puts the whole sordid situation in perspective and makes you glad that he's finally out of the limelight. But if you're missing his ubiquitous presence go see this show instead - it's lots more fun.

March 2, 2009

Jeez...Am I the Only One Who Didn't "Get" Paul Harvey?

Tributes for Paul Harvey are all over the news today; radio, TV, newspapers. Am I the only person on earth who didn't "get" him? Does anybody else think they're making way more of him than he deserves? He's bigger in death than he ever was in life.
He's renowned for a style that annoyed the hell out of me. I listen to WGN in the morning and when he came on at 8:30 I'd mute the radio. His pauses? Drove me crazy. The way he repeated everything? Made me nuts. But more than that was his conservativism and the way he spun news items for his own purpose.
I don't wish anybody dead but I have to say...well, no, I won't say that. Let me just say I won't miss him.

March 1, 2009

South Haven, Michigan

Bill and I took a drive to South Haven, Michigan, an area we've always been drawn to - we go there at least a couple times a year, generally in the summer. Whenever we go there we drive around the south beach area (we like that neighborhood) and look at houses for sale. We don't go in, we just look.
Friday we decided to take a drive to see what South Haven is like in the winter and you know what? It was still beautiful.
We drove around a bit and called about a couple of house that were for sale, just to get an idea of pricing. Then we went on to Saugatuck and spent the night at the Twin Gables Inn just outside of town and it was lovely. A four poster bed, beautifully decorated, big bathroom, outrageous breakfast...all for $109 a night. Go there!
We had dinner at the Everyday People Cafe in Douglas (about 10 minutes away) and the food was fabulous.
On Saturday we drove back through South Haven and found a new planned community about a half mile from the beach, and looked at the models. One was way larger than we would ever need but the other was perfect. A beautiful house, high quality, perfect size, great area. We could see ourselves living there, at least part of the time. We'd keep one of my places in the city, of course, cuz we'd need that city-fix, but it sounds like a nice life, no? For now, tho, it's just a dream.