Unusual Pets


I recently saw on television a family (didn’t get the whole story, but I did catch the video) with a pet bison freely lumbering into and out of their home.  I found it fascinating as I, too, love all kinds of animals.

We presently have one medium sized dog and two birds, a talking African Grey and a beautiful Plum-headed parakeet.  In the past we’ve had three other dogs, a bunny,a Guinea pig, and various parakeets and a canary.  All give us joy!

Of course there’s the heartache of losing them, but the love is worth the finality of the loss.  Memories last forever and we honor Sasha, Sparky, Kersee, Bailey, Ruby & Oreo, often with plants in the garden.

Animals have a way of sensing your mood and adapting to it.  They deserve love and respect in return.

“The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals.”

Women’s March Chicago–Activism?

Ouch!  I haven’t been keeping up with this blog.


Our new POTUS with one insulting tweet after another,  one alternate truth (big lie) after another, one disruptive and destructive executive order after another….so I’ve now become an activist!

I posted these photos on Facebook and I am still hearing repercussions from conservative family and friends.  I live in one of the most Republican counties in the United States.   Most of my extended family supported Trump.  They were quite negative to Hillary.  Why?  It has to be life experiences.

Now the question is, do I really care?   I’ve been wrestling with this every day.  I watch the new members of the congress and I’m worried.  I hear family say “give him a chance” over and over and then I see Trump’s actions and hear his words.  This is hard.  I have difficulty being around some people whom I use to respect.  I’ve dug deep for the return of my sense of humor.

I guess all this is a form of grief.  I’ve only reached the anger stage.  What will tomorrow bring?

Hillary & Leonard Cohen–Tough News Week!


And then today….

I’m sad.  I’m scared.

Hillary’s loss was unexpected, yet always feared.

Leonard’s death was not unexpected, yet always feared.

Thank you Saturday Night Live for the pitch perfect combo of Hillary (Kate McKinnon) thoughtfully singing Leonard’s masterpiece, Hallelujah.  It has helped me put things in perspective.

Other ways I’ve been trying to stay positive and regain some sort of sense of humor include:


  • Covering an old guitar with photos of concerts I’ve seen including Leonard on the front side
  • Offering an extra Ben & Jerry’s “Schweddy Balls” empty carton on eBay
  • Having my hair dresser spray a purple streak in my hair after today’s cut
  • Taking photos of the super moon (and laughing at Kimmel’s joke about California’s continual frequency of super moons with the Kardashians around).
  • Eating a warmed gooey cinnamon pecan roll (it’s been years)
  • Starting my Christmas letter early (never before)
  • Receiving the 5 Cubs World Series locker room caps I ordered
  • Buying glitzy sequin leggings for our youngest granddaughter
  • Hand writing a letter of thanks to Hillary

I’m not giving up and neither should you!


I am dealing with deep disappointment that Hillary will not be the next president.  I share a letter forwarded to me from a friend:

Dear Friends and Board Members,

Having earlier watched Hillary Clinton’s deeply moving concession speech, I am having trouble putting into words the mixture of emotions that have roiled me today. I find myself tossed from shock to sadness to anxiety to grief. Shock that the country made the decision it did, sadness and grief over the loss of what could have been, anxiety for what the future will bring.

However, I will not allow myself to be overcome by fear and anger. The outcome last night was driven, I believe, in many ways, by a mixture of these emotions.

I am never more convinced of the importance of the work of the Chicago Center and of our work as stewards of the Center. Education – and, more precisely, the type of first voice educational experience the Center offers – is the antidote to what has divided our country and deeply fractured our government.

I am reminded of the words of the great thinker Jane Jacobs, who, in comments to the New York Times concerning civil disobedience in the time of the Vietnam War, said, “Merely by happening, civil disobedience affirms that outside the corridors of power are men and women who make judgements, possess courage, form intentions, captain their souls, and act on their own.”

Never before has the educational process itself felt like such a vital act of civil disobedience. Learning – about ourselves, those like us, and, especially, those completely different from us – is the most profound way I know for all of us to build courage, to engage one another with good intentions, and to captain our own souls.

Let us then redouble our efforts in our work with the Chicago Center. Now is the time to do good work in everything we do.

All best,

I’m PROUDLY With Her!

And then today, I’m finally back writing and I’m hoping to find the right words.


This election has been quite difficult for me.  I’ve absorbed so much trying to be “truthfully” informed through reading reliable newspapers, watching reliable tv news shows and watching all the debates and both conventions.

Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are believe them: the first time.”

Both candidates have clearly shown us who they are!

What’s happened to our country?  I’m 73 and I’ve been through many elections.  I’ve voted for Republicans and I’ve voted for Democrats.  But never do I remember such negative, dark insults and cruel actions on the part of the voters. I’ve witnessed this first hand from family and friends I have always considered kind and compassionate people.  I hear it and see it in public places from loud strangers.  I just don’t get it.

Is it social media ?–probably.  Is it racist?–probably.  Is it sexist?–probably.  Is it ignorance?–definitely.  Is it lack of courage on the part of most of the Republican party?–very definitely.

Tomorrow I will proudly support Hillary Clinton and cast my vote for the first woman president.  Her years of public service and working hard to help families and children and all factions of our country are well documented.

This election journey has not been easy or fair for her in so many ways.  May she win (please, please) and the electorate and congress “grow up” and give her a chance to do the good work this country needs and deserves.




Chenoa Memories–Changing Times

And then today….

I was once again drawn to a Facebook group page named “You Know Ur From CHENOA, IL…

Yesterday I got caught up checking out posts and pictures a number of Chenoa fans have been publishing, and I enjoyed a warm, fuzzy flashback to my childhood.  Chenoa is a small town (population just over 1700 when I grew up there and probably still just 1700) in central Illinois at the “Crossroads of Opportunity”–Routes 66 & 24.  Old Route 66 still exists there for local traffic, but I-55 has replaced it as a super highway.

My childhood was in a family of six children on a livestock farm (milk cows, chickens, sometimes sheep and mostly pigs.  That’s a memory for another time.  We lived just 2 miles from town.  (I’ve lived in a western suburb of Chicago for the last 40 years.)

My memories as I wrote on Facebook included a description of my 1950’s Chenoa downtown with two grocery stores, two drugstores, restaurants, a dimestore, furniture, hardware and other businesses which offered us everything we needed.  We felt like we had it all and supported our local shops.  Now the downtown is mostly vacant and I believe only one drugstore remains.  Good for Shuirman’s, now Chenoa Pharmacy, for hanging in there so locals can at least get prescriptions and other necessities.

I waitressed at a small restaurant on Route 66 where the owner favored truck drivers and saved a large table reserved just for them.  (I discovered years later, while pulling out my yearbooks to take to a reunion, that I must have put my yearbook on their table, as I have two pages filled with their notes.)  Both locals and highway traffic frequented the restaurant, so it was a positive “slice of life” in the fifties.

One sad commentary, however, is that a sign was posted “We reserve the right to seat and serve our customers” which allowed the owners to discriminate in their treatment and service to African Americans.  They were never allowed to sit at the counter and they always would get their food to go.  Again, the civil rights movement is a memory for another time.  I could write books about it now, reflecting back over my lifetime and what I’ve experienced and learned.

The basis of my Facebook paragraph was my appreciation of the people of Chenoa and gratitude for the small town values I’ve carried with me for a lifetime.  Seems like none of us had much money, but we didn’t know it.  We had everything we needed including respect and support from each other.

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Chenoa High School had a population of 200 with my graduating class being 42.  Now the schools have been consolidated and the students bus approximately 15 miles away.  More change….

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Our favorite hang-out with the best cheeseburgers is long gone, although I do believe the building still exists.

One thing that does remain the same is the Chenoa Cemetery, just outside of town.  In recent months I’ve been to the cemetery three times for burials.  Of course, it’s larger and filling with headstones of names I haven’t thought of in years.  The visits offer layers of emotion and reality.

But one of the best things that I take away from the Facebook experience is the outpouring of comments and “likes” from generations of Chenoa residents.  Many express their pride of having been part of Chenoa’s history and relationships they continue to cherish.

I find this particularly rewarding.  Also, Thank God, it means some things never change.  Good people continue to be good people.





Graue Mill Underground Railroad Journey

And then today…

Graue Mill in Fullerburg Woods Forest Preserve will again present at 6:30 and 8:15  their program  Journey on the Underground Railroad.

We took part in last night’s presentation and have been talking about it ever since.  The brochure described it as;

“Children and adults can experience what it was like to be a passenger on the Underground Railroad. This theatrical experience begins with a skit in which passengers will meet the legendary Harriet Tubman.”


Graue Mill has recently been restored and it’s history as part of the Underground Railroad have been documented carefully.  The basement (with an outside access) holds the archived information and photos.

The program last night was story telling, songs, and an outing in the woods to duplicate the experience Freedom Seekers might have had.  There were children there (always good) and elderly (descendents of slaves) and those of us seeking a better understanding.

The talented participants soon had us joining in the singing as we got more comfortable with the story.  Several of the participants have written books about the Underground Railroad.

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Thank you, Graue Mill and these participants, for a very memorable journey.


Kareem Abdul-Jabber Book Signing

And then today….

I was looking through the book, Writings on the Wall,  that I bought at a book signing in Naperville last night.


Kareen Abdul-Jabbar is so impressive, so respective, and so informative.  The description inside the book says that in this book “basketball legend and cultural commentator Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores how the America of Today is a fractured society, sharply divided along the lines of race, gender, religion, political party and economic class.  Abdul-Jabbar, in his celebrated second career as a writer and social critic, examines these issues with insight and passion as her draws from his own experiences as a superstar athlete, an inquisitive scholar, a celebrity, a father, an African American and a Muslim”.

Richard Roeper conducted a Q & A session followed by a few questions from the audience.  I was really struck by the diversity and respect shown by the audience, not only to Abdul-Jabbar but to each other.  It was a diverse grouping of varying ages, skin colors, and Muslims.  The young children seemed to be a particular favorite of Abdul-Jabbar and I hope they hear beyond the sports accomplishments to his thoughtful message and history lessons.

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It is such an honor to meet someone of Abdul-Jabbar’s character and accomplishment.  I read his column in Time magazine.  He has a good grasp of the current political scene.   Rational, respectful dialogue is a major part of the answer.



Meatloaf’s BAT OUT OF HELL Revisited!

And then today,

I relish rediscovering last night, via a TMCHD hour television documentary, the music  and life of   Meatloaf: In and Out of Hell!

When I was creating my soft sculpture people, Marli Originals, in my over the garage studio in the ’70’s and 80’s, I use to play my two favorite 8 track tapes (Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell and Queen’s Greatest Hits) at high volume!   Because I often would get lost in my work, and because 8 track tapes continue to loop around and around, it didn’t take long before I knew every lyric, every pause, and the order of every song.

Last night was like a special visit from a long lost friend.


I have an addiction to music and vinyl in particular.  I looked up my album this morning (#339 of Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums) and I will soon have a chance to play it on one of my 5 phonographs.  Another indication of my addiction?  I continue to seek out records and music memorabilia at garage sales, but vinyl is “Hot” once again and the competition is fierce.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the process in putting together this album. Meatloaf’s scenes with Jim Steinman in the movie, both triumphant and testy, reveal how both men show incredible raw talent.  I appreciate that.

I did see Meatloaf in recent years on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice”.  I was more impressed with him in this documentary than I was with him on the tv show.  He is genuine in the music arena and maybe not so much on a reality show.

Regardless, I’m enjoying singing with the record again and reviewing the lyrics on the liner sheet.  Jim Steinman is a poet and the productions are unique.


Now I’ll also look up my vinyl copy of Queen.  I love everything they’ve ever done, but being a “fat bottomed girl”, I am especially partial to that song.

Music makes my world go round.  Thank you, Meatloaf and Jim.






Price of Pork, Chicago Tribune–My Take

And then today, after reading the Tribune series….

I want to talk to my Dad.

I grew up on a pig farm in central Illinois in the fifties.   I recently read the series in the Chicago Tribune titled “The Price of Pork” in Illinois.  The series was broken down into 4 major parts–cheap meat, animal abuse, pollution, & hard work.  The stories, editorial, photos and video are available online: http://chicagotribune.com/pork

My dad was a hog farmer with a vision that brought him much success and accolades during his farming career.  Breeding stock buyers from around the country and from as far away as Japan and Brazil came to our farm.

Dad Fair Ribbons

Every summer was spent at the fairs.  Dad showed hogs for 50 years at the Illinois State Fair, but he also traveled to many local and out of state competitions.

world book hog

This photo is from a later edition of the World Book Encyclopedia featuring one of my dad’s Yorkshire hogs.  Dad also was known for Black Poland China and Spotted Poland China breeds.

I feel like the morality has disappeared from our food chain.  A few years ago I attended a Farm to Table dinner in Wisconsin.  Constant confinement was a new concept for me.  The huge family milk farm operation was probably the best it could be.  The owners seem to be conscientious of good care and cleanliness.  The Chicago Tribune editorial points out that other states do a better job.  They mention “the more regulatory authority there is in place, and more visible it is, the more likely farmers and business owners will be to act responsibly.”

Once more, Illinois has let us down.

(Before I continue, I will admit I had bacon for breakfast.  Bacon and Snickers are my two favorite foods and the state fair today probably offers deep fried Snickers wrapped in bacon–mmmm.)

Therefore, from this day forward, I am going to do my best to switch primarily to a plant based diet.  In order to feed the world and save the planet, it seems to be the only way.

I’m tired of worrying about antibiotics and hormones and the lack of health safety associated with our food, especially meats.  I know chickens are raised in tiny little overcrowded dirty cages.

This week I bought Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs.  The informational insert says “Family Farmers Raise Our Girls With Loving Care” and “raised on grass and free to roam, y’all”.  And surprise–the yolks are a little darker, firmer, and tastier!  However, they did cost more.

But then again, my dad always used to say, “You get what you pay for”.

Quality over quantity is admirable, but it doesn’t pad the greedy corporate bottom line!