Sometimes you just see what you want to see!

February 17, 2010


    How hard can it be to see something this unique in a photo?   

Finally, I saw the “unique chimney” photo!  I had been looking for it in my photo archives off and on for months.

So, I shared it here yesterday.

But then my friend Cathy sweetly questioned if that’s really what I saw.

Yes, yes.  I was sure what I saw in the photo was the chimney.  But, just in case, I asked Hubby for confirmation.  Instead he gave me the bad news.  Cathy was right.  It was a tree in this photo, not the chimney.  But, he did confirm that he had seen it too — I wasn’t just imagining it.  And he remembered me being so excited when I finally got a picture of it — but unfortunately neither of us remember when I took it!

Sooo, back to looking through the hundreds of similar-looking Chicago cityscapes I’ve taken.  Looking for that unique chimney that isn’t that easy to see even when you are looking for it, but which is even smaller and less noticeable in a photo, apparently “hiding” among the surrounding buildings and trees.

I’m sorry that apparently I saw what I wanted to see in the picture I posted yesterday.  I’ll post the real chimney photo when I find it.

It occurs to me that finding this photo is probably going to be a little like working a jigsaw puzzle and looking for the elusive piece that blends in with all the other pieces “forever” but then seems so obvious, once you find it!

Stay tuned.

A Chimney Grows in Chicago!

February 16, 2010


Oops!  See update to this post, Sometimes you just see what you want to see!

   Not a great picture.  But then, it was taken from a speeding car (there is no option NOT to speed on the freeways in Chicago!) and then zoomed to the max so that I could show you what has become sort of a “landmark” for me when we drive through Chicago.  I first noticed this chimney about a year ago and have been trying to get a picture of it every since.

Do you see it?  The chimney in the middle of the picture?  I know you might think there is just a tree behind it, but that isn’t it!  Those are branches sticking out of the top of the chimney!

I can’t imagine (or I don’t want to imagine) a bird big enough to have hauled branches that big to the chimney to make a nest, so I wonder if it didn’t start out as just a regular bird’s nest and then, over the years, “went to seed” and has actually grown some branches of its own!  The only other scenario that I can think of is that it is on an abandoned house that has a tree growing up through its chimney!

However it happened, this unusual sight is one I always look for because it fascinates me.

Assuming it’s on an abandoned house right now, I hope that if it’s ever renovated and rented out the renovators think to clean out the chimney!  Otherwise, I can imagine a new tenant’s last words being, “I think I’ll try out the fireplace!”

I never get tired of “the show”

February 15, 2010


There are lots of big lakes within driving distance of the city where we live, so ever since my parents and I moved here when I was nine years old, I have known lots of people who had lake cottages, or even lived at a lake and drove into town each day to work.  And, even though, over the years I had been a guest at lake cottages many times, I really never saw what all the fuss was about.  Sure, it was fun for an afternoon of boating and swimming, but what was so great about spending alot of time at a lake?

Then, when Hubby and I were looking for a new home after a developer had bought our farmhouse, friends who lived on this small  lake in an addition right in town, had us over for dinner.  We loved the neighborhood (which includes two other small lakes) and we were intrigued by the fact that you could actually fish, swim and have a non-motorized boat right out your back door!  So, long story short, we ended up buying the house that was for sale second door from our friends.

And now I get it.  Yes, the activities we can do on the water (mainly done when our grandchildren are here) are fun, but for me, it is the constant entertainment right outside the window that routinely thrills me.

I know that geese are frequently considered an annoyance, but I love to watch them, along with lots of  ducks and occasional swans, loons or herons thrown in!

I’ve never considered myself a big lover of wildlife, but I have to say that I never get tired of seeing what’s going on on the lake.

I have also come to realize how hard it is to take a picture of birds in flight!  I’ve never gotten “the perfect shot” I invision — even though I’ve seen a perfect one many times, but always at a time when I didn’t have camera in hand.

Whether I ever get the perfect picture or not, I never get tired of the “show”.

Run toward the fire, not away from it!

February 14, 2010


I remember seeing actual video that was taken on 9/11  in the lobby of one of the twin towers. 

Everyone was  getting out of the building as fast as they could. 

Everyone except for the firemen — they were going into the building to try to put out the fire and save people.

I can’t imagine that there was even one of them who didn’t have to suppress a natural urge to put their own lives first, and run out of the building too.  But those brave firefighters went into the building anyway and saved many lives that day, while many of them lost their own.  They were all true heros.

Our natural instinct is to see to our own comfort first.  But that doesn’t always fit God’s plan!  I believe He wants us to be aware if there is a “fire” around us and run toward it!  The “fire” I’m talking about in this case is a crisis in someone else’s life.

I recently “talked” via e-mail to a friend who was telling me about a very emotional crisis that has been happening in her elderly parents’ life for about the last month that their long-time church family is seeming to collectively ignore.  I have no idea why that would be, but I’m guessing that their fellow Christians  “don’t know what to say”, so they are just staying away!

I’ve heard those words, “I don’t know what to say” used as a reason not to go to a wake too.  But I know, from having been on the receiving end, that the survivors don’t remember much of what is said, but they do so appreciate and are uplifted by the people who just took the time to come!

So, I’m writing this today to remind all of us, including myself, that there may be “fires” happening in lives around us that we are ignoring because it’s painful or uncomfortable for us to address what is going on — maybe because “we don’t know what to say”.   But I don’t think that is what God intends for us to do.  However awkward we feel doing it, I think He wants us to do whatever we can to comfort and uplift those around us who need it.

May we all renew our resolve to “run toward the fire, not away from it” when we see someone who is hurting.

Stylish versus Practical!

February 13, 2010


I can remember talking Mama into buying me a pair of shoes when I was in junior high that the store only had in a half size too small for me.  I convinced her that they fit fine.  Actually they hurt terribly every time I wore them — but I thought they were wonderful, so I was willing to put up with hurting feet!  Impractical is buying and then wearing shoes that are too small for you, but style definitely trumped comfort back then.

I remember Mama buying me a beautiful white angora sweater as part of my school clothes for my senior year of high school.  It was the most beautiful thing I had ever owned and I couldn’t wait to wear it.  So the first fall day I got up and it was a little crisp and there was some frost on the grass, I wore it!  Unfortunately, it was so early in the fall that it warmed up quickly and was down right hot by the afternoon.  I absolutely sweltered in that thick, very furry sweater by the time I got home.  But, I wasn’t sorry I had worn it because I was sure I looked good!  Again, I was impractical because I wanted to be stylish  and didn’t care about comfortable! 

When I was little I can remember old women wearing their nylons (of course, nylons were two separate stockings then) rolled down around their ankles.  They would put an elastic garter (which looked like bigger versions of the elastic hair bands that you use now to hold poney tails) in the top of their stockings and then rolled the stockings all the way down around their ankles so that they had a nylon on their foot with a perfect roll of brown around their ankle and bare leg above that!  I have no idea why they didn’t just wear cotton anklets, but I’m guessing they were simply being practical and making do with what they had.  Comfort and practical beat out style. 

When I went to the party at DD’s in Chicago Saturday night, I proved that I have definitely arrived at the “practical beats out style” time in my life now.  

When I was getting ready for the party I realized I had made a slight “packing error” —  I had packed two different black earrings!


There was a time in my life when I would absolutely not have worn those earrings, but I’m much more comfortable with who I am now.  And it was practical just to wear what I had — so I wore them.

I had a terrific time getting to visit with DD’s wonderful friends, and no one seemed to notice my “eclectic” earrings.

     I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I’ve stepped over the line from caring about being stylish to being practical.  How long can it be before I start rolling my nylons down around my ankles!?

A Sweet for your Sweetie!

February 12, 2010


Ah, Valentine’s Day.  A wonderful excuse to eat sweets!

But here is a crustless strawberry pie that my sister-in-law has made for years for family get-togethers that is very good!

One serving is a fourth of the pie — not the “sliver” that most dieters think of in conjunction with pie.  And that serving is 1, one, uno, a single Weight Watcher point!

So if you want to make a sweet for your sweetie that doesn’t break the bank calorie-wise, here is the simple (and I love that!) recipe.

Crustless Strawberry Pie

In a microwavable medium mixing bowl combine a small package of cook and serve (NOT instant) sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding mixed with 2 C. of water (I’ve tried using 1% milk thinking it would make it richer, but it’s surprisingly not as good!).  Microwave on high for 4 minutes, stirring half way through.

Add a small package of sugar-free strawberry jello and stir well.

Pour over 4 C. of fresh strawberries in a pie plate. 

Refrigerate at least an hour to allow it to set up.  And, of course, refrigerate any leftovers.

Did I mention?  ONE WW point!

We like it.  I hope you do too.

My favorite bartender

February 10, 2010



There is an obituary in the paper today that brings back fond memories.  It is for my favorite bartender, Fred.

Just saying that makes me sound like a real lush, doesn’t it.  But, in fact, I’m not much of a drinker at all.  Let me explain how I ended up with a favorite bartender.

For the 15 or so years that Hubby and I were involved in local politics, we went to many political dinners, grand openings, fund-raising cocktail parties, etc.  And one local caterer catered many of those events, including supplying the bartenders.

Early on, I found that one of the biggest “pains” of cocktail hour is walking around chatting with people while trying to balance a drink along with a plate of finger food.  Think about it.  If you have a drink in one hand and a plate of  “finger food” in the other hand, where do you get the fingers to eat the finger food!  And if you are carrying even a small evening bag it is just one more thing to juggle.

So, one time when I was standing at the bar ordering my version of a Shirley Temple, i.e., a glass of orange juice, as the bartender handed me my drink I was jockeying everything around and asked him if there was a cloak room where I could check my purse.  He said there wasn’t, but if I would like, he would put my purse down behind the bar.  Wonderful!  I immediately took him up on that.  What a nice man.  We introduced ourselves and besides finding out that his name was Fred, I found out he and his family were from the same area of the county as us and he knew and/or was related to many of the same people we knew or were related to!

Anyway, that was the start of a sort of “tradition” that Fred and I established.  If I walked up to a bar at a function and Fred was one of the bartenders (and he frequently was) after we greeted each other, he would automatically fix my Shirley Temple “screwdriver” and then take my purse to store behind the bar until I came to get it when Hubby and I were ready to leave.

I can’t remember ever having a long conversation with Fred, but it was  nice to see his friendly face at a function (and I did find out over the years that he was still an active farmer and had also retired from the same truck manufacturer where I worked).  And, of course, it was always kind of nice to be recognized by a bartender.  It made me feel a little like Norm when he walked into Cheers!

So when I saw Fred’s obituary today, and his smiling face in the accompanying picture, it brought back fond memories of seeing that smile as he handed me my orange juice and took my purse for safekeeping.

One of life’s little blessings is the people who pass through our lives in brief ways, but who touch us with their kindness and a smile.

I am thankful for my memories of Fred and for all the other “Fred’s” in my life who just make life a little more pleasant.  And I hope I am a “Fred” in some lives that  I have briefly passed through.

When I go to a wake, I always like to tell the survivors some little memory I have of their loved one, and then remind them that as long as little memories like that live on in people who knew them, a little bit of that person is still here. 

I’m sure a kind, friendly man like Fred was loved and remembered by many people, and as long as there are all those memories like mine, he isn’t totally gone.

Rest in peace, Fred.

Pounds Count!

February 9, 2010


DD’s new (to her) town home is in an addition that has a gate at the entrance.  It is a very nice neighborhood, but isn’t a huge, pretentious one like I have always thought of when I hear “gated community”.  It is just a nice neighborhood of town homes with the extra security of a gate.

A couple of DD’s girlfriends had a party for her and her daughters Saturday night — a starting-your-new-life party.   And it was a lovely party . . . once you got in!  But a continuing theme to the conversation at the party was the trouble some of us had getting through the gate.

To make a long story a little shorter (yes, I can do that, if I work realllly hard at it!), on the invitation we were told that to get through the gate we needed to enter #3400 on the key pad next to the gate.  Simple enough, right?  Well apparently not, because there were some really funny stories about the repeated attempts some guests made to get in, including randomly calling neighbors who were listed in the electronic directory, because DD isn’t listed yet, to ask for their help getting in.  And my favorite story was the friend who decided that since the code didn’t work when she entered it, she must be trying to get into the wrong neighborhood, so she drove away twice to look for another near-by neighborhood with a gate (all the while repeatedly calling her husband for advice on how to find DD and leaving DD hysterically funny voice mails about her dilemma), before returning for a third try and  finally figuring out how to get in.

Here was the problem.  We were all entering “3 4 0 0”  Do you know what we should have been entering?  This, “# 3 4 0 0“.  Would you have thought to enter the pound sign?  Those of us who had trouble getting in were seeing that as a numbers sign, so we were just reading the instructions as “enter the number 3400″.

I’ve been told that the English language is, by far, the most complicated in the world.  But wouldn’t you think “complicated” would translate into “precision accuracy”?  So, my observation is that even with all this complex English language stuff, we’ve apparently not been specific enough about the intended function of  symbols as just silent assistants to words and numbers, rather than, as in this case, the symbols being a part of the word or number.

I received a forwarded e-mail recently that seems to address this problem too.  It said something like this:

“How would you pronounce this new baby’s name? Le-a”

It then gave you several ways it might be pronounced . . . le-ah, lee, la-ah.

But, nope, none of those were what the new mother had in mind, so mis-pronunciations of her new baby’s name were already frustrating her.  Her quote went something like this, “That dash ain’t silent!!”  Her intention was for the name to be pronounced, “la-dash-ah”.

 I see myself as providing a public service here by bringing up these two examples where symbols have been very important to meaning!  So, just consider yourself forewarned.  And, if you encounter a person whose name is written “Qtr#er” — using my new-found knowledge, I would guess it’s pronounced “Quarterpounder”!

Sometimes a “pound” is really important somewhere other than at Weight Watchers!

A bird in the hand . . .

February 8, 2010


. . . is worth two in the bush.

I was so sorry to see the Colts lose last night.  I know that Peyton’s interception will be the most talked-about mistake, but there were plenty of others too so, unfortunately, they just didn’t have one of their best games in the Super Bowl.

But I would guess this will bring back talk about the Colts management decision to not try to win their last two regular season games to “save” their players for their run to the Super Bowl.

I can’t help but think that it would make it a little easier to deal with the loss they suffered yesterday if they at least had the record for a perfect regular season to show for this season.

I knew a man once who was going back to school to get his degree after being in the workforce many years.  The first thing he did was aim for an associates degree.  His reasoning being that after two years he would have “locked in” that degree, no matter what happened while he was working at getting the four-year degree.  He executed his plan exactly like that — he earned his two-year degree (and it did take a few additional classes that wouldn’t have been necessary if he were just working toward the four-year one) and then went on to get his four-year degree.  Some might say that the two-year degree was made “useless” when he got the four-year one.  But I would say that he took the achieveable while working toward the desirable.

Be careful not to let the “bird in a hand” fly away while you’ve got your eye on catching the two birds you think are in a near-by bush!

Young “Chick” in a “Crick”

February 6, 2010


    I like this picture of my sister Betty when she was 18, wading in the creek at Grandpa’s little farm in Fordland, Missouri.

   In April she will celebrate her 80th birthday.

May we all be as active, cheerful and caring when we approach 80!