Chicago Memories

As I walked into the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton, I thought about another trip here to celebrate Alex’s and Brooke’s graduation from WCU and PSU. Cait was along, too, as well as their dad Kevin, and of course, my husband Ralph. We were also celebrating my 60th birthday. When the waiter asked me what birthday I was celebrating, I told him my 39th. Kevin added, “39 plus 21.” So that is what they wrote in chocolate on my dessert plate!

We did everything including the Field Muesum and the Shedd Aquarium. We took the boat tour on the lake and river. A special dinner at the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock Building. We decided to walk to the Willis Tower from the hotel based on Cait’s calculations with her cell phone. But what a nineteen year old considers walkable is different from a 60 year old’s perspective. After a million, “Are we almost there, Cait?” we finally arrived. Needless to say, we took the taxi back to the hotel.

Another trip to Chicago my sister Diane wanted to walk to the Navy Pier from our already long stroll on Michigan Avenue. We did not quite make it, and thankfully flagged a taxi to return to the hotel. On that weekend, we also traveled to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. They lost, but we had a wonderful time. What a beautiful ball park!

Now we are waking up after a great night at Second City Comedy Club and looking forward to a stroll in Millenium Park. I hope to write a photo walk on Monday when I can transfer photos from the camera to my laptop. If you have never spent time here, it is a wonderful city with so much to do! A great place for families, friends, or couples. Chicago is filled with wonderful museums, restaurants, and  festivals. We want to check out the Shakespeare theater on Navy Pier and the gangster tour. Maybe we’ll just have to come back again next year!


My Perfectly Perfect Mom

Mom was a true gem. She kept our family together, even though she probably should have packed us up and relocated to Allentown to be nearby our wonderful grandparents. Mom sacrificed everything for us. She really was a career woman and should have returned to nursing, but Dad never wanted her to go back. I know he was afraid he’d lose her.

My mom devoured books – she was our model for READER. Later, I discovered she was a writer, too, when my sister Diane and I read her love letters to my father. Mom shopped for all our school clothes, sent us out into the world with a good breakfast to sustain us and loving words of encouragement. She set the rules, sat with us through elementary school to get our homework done, and faithfully took us to the library every Saturday morning.

Mom was an only child, generous with her time and possessions. My grandparents gave her love and wisdom. Mom freely gave her time to “cure” the boo-boos of all the dashes and crashes of the neighborhood’s children. She valiantly tried to keep a Kosher house for my father, and insisted that we take family trips.  Although there were never many of these, I do remember our trip to New York to see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

Mom was a beautiful person – on the outside and the inside, too. She loved us almost too much. Mom worried about us and fussed about anything she deemed as too dangerous. I fought with her for two years before she agreed to let me take horseback riding lessons. It took almost five years for her to consent to a dog because of my many allergies.

My Mom

My mother was so beautiful! She played board games with us, taught us how to draw, sang songs, and played piano. She taught each one of us how to drive. Her favorite piece was “Lara’s Song” from Dr. Zhivago.

I remember the summer before college when I cried at the drop of a hat, and Mom was so worried because I couldn’t tell her why I was always so teary-eyed (unusual for me unless I am reading a sad book or watching an oh-so-sad movie).  I had just turned seventeen, and I think I was scared to death of the transition, although I’m still not sure why.  I put her through hell that summer, but she was patient and supportive.  You could always count on Mom.

I only wish she had been around long enough for me to have those lunches and shopping sprees and heart-to-hearts that come with financial security and emotional maturity.  I did not have that time with her, but I am thankful every day for the time I did have. She gave me the strength to do all the things I have been able to do. I owe her every small and large victory. I owe her everything and much more. Thank you, Mom, you are in my heart today and every day!

About Movies and Chair Kicking


A Poem to Begin

I’m waiting

for the rows of seats to be filled,

for the lights to dim,

 for the endless food commercials to be over,

for all the future movie clips to come to an end,

for silence to fill the theater,

for people to stop texting and turn off their phones,

for the credits to roll and music to play that tells us

the feature movie we came to see

is finally about to start!

 My Story

My husband and I love to go to the movies. We often go with Gwen and Leigh, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, and our dear friend Tom Wittkamp. I like the quiet time when I can be totally absorbed in a film.  At home, I am too tempted to answer the phone, look at my twitter feed, read text messages, or get up to throw in a load of laundry.  Movies at home just don’t have the same effect on me. I go to the movies because I love a good story. I also can relax and just become absorbed in the film instead of thinking of the forty million things I have to do!

There is, however, one drawback to the movies: if we don’t get there early enough, we can’t get a seat in the last row.  Now, I would be happy with seats in other rows unless they are the first few rows right in front of the big screen.  I went with my goddaughters and their dad Kevin to see a wonderful film, My Dog Skip, based on the book by Willie Morris.  We arrived a little late and had to sit in the very front row in order to be together. We all laughed and cried (I think I actually sobbed), but following the movie outing, I had an incredible stiff and achy neck for days and days!

The reason for seeking the last row is simple. If I sit down where there is another row behind me, someone will inevitably sit in the chair behind me and kick my chair. Really, this happens to me every time!  I know I embarrass my husband when I turn around and say in a hiss, “Please stop kicking my chair.”  To which the person always replies, “I wasn’t!”  Then, sometimes, that person will get in one or two more kicks for good measure.  This never happens to Ralph – only to me. I think he may actually believe that I am imagining it.

This started a long time ago when I was in high school. I rode the S bus to Broad and Olney for four years to get to Philadelphia High School for Girls. If I wasn’t standing because the bus was already packed, my seat always had a kicker behind me. In high school I was a mouse and just put up with it, even though it made me crazy.  It seems that throughout my life, I have been plagued with this annoyance.

This takes me to the Common Ground Conference in Ocean City, Maryland last week. Mary, Rita, and I were late coming from our session to a session on everyday blogging.  The room was packed, and people had brought in chairs from other rooms or were sitting on the floor. I went to get a chair and found one spot against a wall at the spot where the entranceway broke into the larger meeting space. Mary found a chair someone had abandoned, and Rita snuggled into a spot on the counter.

To my disbelief, a young teacher who was sitting on the floor across from my chair had extended her legs and was tapping her one foot on my chair leg in a steady rhythm.  I tried to ignore it, but all I could concentrate on was her tap-tap-tapping. “Will you please stop kicking my chair leg?” I whispered. She just looked at me, but the kicking stopped.  I think I am forever cursed!