Category: Misc. Topics

These days there are so many ways to get from point A to point B. We drive, train, fly and boat. Each has it’s advantages but some give benefits not necessity thought of.

If you drive you decide to the second what time you’ll leave, arrive and which routes you’ll use. You can make unplanned stops. You can do as you choose but you must also always be alert. Other drivers don’t drive as well as you do and each of those seconds you’re behind the wheel brings new dangers.

Now, taking the train means living a scheduled life. Miss it and you’re late or you just don’t get to do what you thought you were going to. Once on, the only thing you have to remember is when to get off. You can sleep if you want. You can work, mingle with other riders or look out the window without driving off the tracks. Taking the train is a comedy. These is always something new. Passengers with odd clothing combinations, the smells of a variety of foods and then there are those conversations. Did they really just say that out loud?

Now if you live in Chicago and take the L you have a whole new experience. You pass homes with windows wide open practically butted up to the tracks. The train stops and you hear arguments with the occasional flying pan, TV shows in snippets and most importantly you watch life unfold as families grow up before your eyes one day at a time.

Flying is a little bit like taking the train. Only now it’s impossible to miss your stop. You’ll find some commuters but mostly you will find vacationers. Happiness is in the air (pun not intended but it works) as passengers expectations rise closer and closer to the surface.

Finally there is the boat. Like the plane, some use it often but that’s smaller vessels and not the norm. Vacation is not got going on the boat, the boat is the vacation. Being on a cruise is a 24 hour party. What more could you want?

We Americans love to travel. We’re full of life and we like to get there fast. America, the land of opportunity, the land of dreams, the best nation in the world to travel around and so much to see. Options? Sure, we have them. Plenty of them. Which one is your favorite and why?

The Lack of Caring

It always amazes me about some people. They’re self-esteem must be very low. How else can you explain the actions of your fellow man? Walking through a supermarket you get a good idea of what the local population is like and if you think at all about how others view you, you will be shocked.

People walk around in their pajamas and at times these are very close to underwear. Flesh hangs out in all the wrong places and yet they fail to cover themselves. They don’t care. I do and I avert my eyes. Bad hair days are really, just rolled out of bed at 3 pm. Rats nests abound.

Other than their appearance is their manners. I don’t expect everyone to adhere to Emily Post because I too am guilty of many a taboo but there are certain things that are givens. If you are waiting in line and haven’t yet put your perspective purchase on the convaire belt and discover someone standing behind you with only a few items as opposed to your several dozen, you should let them go first. There are still some brave souls who do but mostly they pretend you aren’t there. Instead of a quick one, two, three you spend ten to fifteen minutes waiting for Food Stamps, Link, credit cards and checks to pass through their hands while you stand in line with achy arms holding your gallon of milk in one hand and gallon jug of water in the other waiting to pay cash.

Then there is the eater. Yes, when we buy groceries we get tempted to buy what is looking back at us from the shelf but there are others who don’t just get tempted. They open the package up and begin to eat it right in the store. Have they paid for it? No. Is it ethical to eat the bag of chips as you shop and pay for it later? Not really. Do they always pay? No. Sometimes they simply stash the empty package on a shelf and walk away.

If people don’t care what others think when their in public, imagine what their house’s look like. Do you think that they’d be neat, tidy and clean or do you suppose their home looks very much like they do – unkempt, soiled and thriving in being lesser than the rest? I wish I could say that it would all change some day but I highly doubt it. People fall into habits and find it almost impossible to get out of them. Why? Mostly, because they couldn’t care enough. They have people in their lives who think as they do and so they cling together and remain who they never were meant to be. For what parent held their child in their arms for the first time and said – “Some day my daughter will be a window washer and toilet scrubber at a fast food restaurant!”

Please, I implore you, if this sounds like you, look at yourself in the mirror. If you admire yourself and think you look great, I’m happy for you. But if you look at yourself and say, “How the heck did I get here,” please take some action and be who you can be – a wonderful person with great qualities. No one was born to be a slug and you shouldn’t be content to be one. Take some action. Be a wonderful beautiful person with a smile on your face. Start today.

Her name was Betty Joan Perske but the world will remember her as Lauren Bacall. She was born September 16, 1924 in the Bronx section of New York. Like many young girls she dreamed of her name in giant letters across the marquis of Broadway. To help that dream come true she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It helped and she found herself performing on Broadway in minor rolls but she didn’t make it to the top.

To keep money coming in she exchanged lines on a script for curves in magazines and became a model. She had the looks and she used them well. Her big break came in March 1943 when her picture graced the glossy cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Mrs. Howard Hawks took one look at the woman and showed her husband. Her Hollywood producer-director husband agreed and in one month Bacall had a seven year contract from Warner Brother’s in her hot little hand.

Perhaps the studio sensed something but either way their pairing her with leading man Humphrey Bogart yielded pure magic in her screen debut, To Have and Have Not. The two were fire on the silver screen and the now famous and much quoted line, “If you want anything, all you have to do is whistle,” spelled it out. Her line, “It’s even better when you help,” to a returned kiss from Bogart informed viewers that they were witnesses to much more than film simply rolling from one reel to another.

The true reality was the 19-year-old Bacall and the 45-year-old Bogart were falling in love during the film’s shooting. By the following year they were married and together they would make three more films together. Each with a slightly different tone but each with the same smoky come hither look from Bacall that would earn her the name, “The Look.”

Over the years she made more movies but they were sporadic as the studio presented her with parts and pictures she refused to do. Eventually Warner Brother’s suspended and fined her. From there she moved on to 20th Century Fox and other studios. During the 50’s her career was in a slump but always Bogart stood beside her, loving and encouraging. She became content with simply being a supportive wife and caring for their two children, Stephen and Leslie. When he diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1956 she devoted herself completely to him. He died the following year and for a time she went into depression.

She remarried in1961 to Jason Robards, Jr. and together they had a son (actor Sam Robards.) Unlike her marriage to Bogart, which was complicated but good, her marriage to Robards was stormy. No longer able to deal with Robards’ violent behavior when drunk she left and they were divorced in 1969.

At the end of the 60’s she returned to Broadway where she appeared in the successfully received play Cactus Flower. Then in 1970 her youthful dream came to fruition in the form of a play entitled Applause (a musical remake of the film All About Eve) for which she won the Tony. After an eight-year absence from the movies she returned in 1974 but she didn’t give up on appearing in plays. In 1981 she had another hit when the play, Woman of the Year, rose to the top. In movies she found another triumph when she was nominated for the first time for best supporting actress in the 1996 film The Mirror Has Two Faces. In 2009 she received an honorary academy award.

Miss Bacall made her last film in 2012. She died of old age 35 days before her 90th birthday on August 12, 2014.


A List of Her Most Memorable Rolls:


  • To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • Confidential Agent (1945)
  • The Big Sleep (1946)
  • Dark Passage (1947)
  • Key Largo (1948)
  • The Shootist (1976)
  • The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) – Academy Award Nomination (Best Supporting Actress)
  • The Forger (2012)



The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz 4th Edition Ó 2001 Bacall, Lauren, pg. 73

Chicago Tribune Wednesday August 14, 2014, Section 1, Page 14

Chicago Tribune Thursday August 15, 2014, Section 4, Page 1,6

To be a forger or not to be a forger, that is the question. Tamera Alexander’s character Claire Laurent struggles with this question as she fights for what she knows is right and what she can not undue. Claire’s story is written within the rich background of America’s recently ended Civil War.

Painting is Claire’s passion in life and she wants nothing more than to paint one painting that she can call her own but as a forger, her life’s blood is strengthened by the works of the masters and Claire’s own family are her masters. Then, suddenly, the unexpected happens and Claire finds herself alone and her life spiraling out of control as she is forced to flee the one city she’d begun to call home.

Alone in a new city and in the company of strangers, her every instinct tell her not to trust, she must again run. Now, truly on her own she must fend for herself. The shelter of a church gives her a place to sleep but what to do in the dawn.

The next morning, a bit of accidental eaves dropping and a chance encounter send her on her destined path but can she become the woman she longs to be? Can she truly put her past to rest and start the life of happiness she longs for? Can the man she’s come to love accept her for who she was and who she has become? Follow her journey in A Lasting Impression and see if Claire’s story leaves a lasting impression upon your mind.

            John Goff’s debut novel The Wait is written in a rich style that takes you straight to the Gulf of Mexico’s coast and the small town of Pascagoula, Mississippi where life is lived on the water and fish and shrimp set the table. Once there you will be instantly surrounded by the raucous sounds of the Kennedy clan. Whether on land or sailing the Gulf this family will hold your attention.

            The Wait is a story of four generations and the trials and triumphs of a family making its way in a new land. They left Ireland behind for a promise of a new life and this they found in Mississippi where the Gulf reminds them of the ocean they left behind with its rolling waves and tempestuous temper. Follow along as they tame and are reminded who they are by the Gulf’s sometimes docile and other times rough waters.

            John’s title is not apparent at once but as you read along it becomes apparent why he chose it. It is perfect.


ISBN: 1482329948

If you want a real fans fan cake, here is a lady who makes a mean cake. Absolutely wonderful. Go Hawks.

Life As It Is


The day begins anew each day not a midnight, 5 a.m. or even 8 in the morning. The real start of a day is 2:45 in the afternoon. It is the time that school gets out and the sun seems to shine brighter. There is a sweetness on the air as young boys and girls walk out those cold doors that mean rigid rules to the freedom of open spaces.

No longer need they lower their tones. They can now exercise their vocal cords to their hearts content. They may fidget. They can run up and down the block and they can forget every utterance of authority. They can do what they want and when they want (until they get home.)

The grade school student’s life centers on the time when spring break starts and then summer vacation. Each day they peek a look at the clock above their heads. The second hand seems to be stuck and the day drags on with studies they couldn’t care less about. Every second is a day and every day a lifetime. They long for a time when they can do what they dream of.

In the adult world that dream is often stunted and much is replayed from our childhood. Sure, the time the day starts has been lengthened. Now we look to the clock for not 2:45 but 5 in the afternoon. We struggle with boredom and the hopeless strain of knowing that we are doing a menial job we couldn’t care less about and yet see no clear way out of. We wish to go back to the joys of our childhood when all we had to worry about was school. Too bad we didn’t know how grand we had it then. Back then we thought school was evil and having a job like Mom and Dad was heaven.

But what would happen if we discovered that our schooling and our jobs were wonderful things? Would we rejoice or would we sit back and deliberate, question and judge that decision? I think we would but what if we discovered that we didn’t need it to be 5 o’clock somewhere to be happy? Wouldn’t that be worth it?

Let’s try today to go outside and do a little soul searching. Take a walk around the block and see what’s going on. Look inside yourself and think about what you really want to accomplish with your life. If you died tomorrow what would they put on your tombstone? Would it say you were a dreamer – you never did what you wanted to, or would it say you were a hard worker – you did what was expected but didn’t expect to live your life doing it because it wasn’t you?

If you want your stone to say something positive you have to be positive. Don’t look at your job as a drudgery. Look at it as the next step to your goal.Try that for a day, another day, a week, a month and then a year. Watch your attitude of life change and then look back on the year before you started your soul journey and see how much you’ve changed and how much you’ve accomplished. You will find that you can respect yourself more.

On the Path of a Ringtail

There is an art form for a racoon watch. It has its own type of trench warfare. Both sides have an aid that makes them sucessful. Here is one example.

A week ago Thursday my family woke to hear walking noises above our heads at 5:10. Worried that something somehow might have gotten into the attic we checked. We saw nothing. From there we heard nothing. Back in our bedrooms we again heard skittering feet. We prayed it was a bird walking along the gutters but we knew.

The house across the street had had coons sucessfully living there for 10 years. The people living there (Renters) had been feeding them. Eventually the owner called in animal control and we thought the problem was solved. Then last year the house next to us had a mother and two babies move in. It appeared they remembered and liked the neighborhood. Lucky us. These racoons were removed too. Problem solved? I guess not because obviously we were the not so happy next house to be infultrated. Oh, what joy.

That first day our new critter left for its nightly hunt around 7:15 p.m. and the next morning (Friday) we were up and at em at 5:00 a.m. guarding our house from reentry. We hit pay dirt when at 6:05 a.m. the fat lumbering body of the suspected racoon came ambling up the steet from the nearby creek. For him/her it was nighty night. It headed our way and when it spotted us, it became frightened and ducked into the sink-hole that had developed next to the storm drain. It might have been out of sight but it was not out of mind.

Saturday morning we again roused ourselves from bed like rusty creaky jack-in-the-boxes and headed to our post (front porch) to watch and listen. We waited until 5:20 but we saw nothing. Perhaps we’d suceeded in frightening it away? We hoped. That hope didn’t last. We’d no sooner crawled back into bed then we heard it. Had we missed it or had it come sooner then we thought and we had just been too tired to hear its entry? We didn’t know but we knew we needed to get it out.

Think smart. What would scare a coon? Pounding? We gave it a shot. Rafter wacking ensued and a light scamper effect we got but it didn’t leave. Then some quick thinking and human dog barking started. The coon didn’t like it. It ran all over from its hiding place between the roofline and the rafters. It wanted to get away from the dog but how without being seen. When we left the attic behind the silence was the coon’s signal. Outside again we looked at the house and then, well… we saw it leave through our yard. It was getting away as fast as it could from us and our dog.

Since that morning we have risen with the birds at 4:00 a.m. We’ve seen it duck back into the storm drain and into the house across the street. Obviously, they never left but at least we know 100% for sure how it got in our house. It lifted the soffeting beside our attic window and squeezed in. It must be semi hollow in there but the blessing is it can’t get in to where we live.

So what do you need on a racoon watch? Three people: 1 on the back porch, 1 on the front porch and 1 circling the house. All watchers must be equipped with a flashlight and a pole or stick (broom handles work well too.) These poles are used to signal others of a sighting rather than yelling, which could wake the whole neighborhood, and for pounding to scare the pesky critter away.

For the porch sitter a few things are very helpful. Warm clothes. It’s still quite chilly in the morning and a two hour twenty minute vigil at 4-6:20 a.m. gets cold fast. Here it has been about 30-34 degrees in the morning. My own form of clothes was simple when I came about it.

First, leave the PJ’s on. Add to it a warm sweatshirt and throw on a robe on top. Next put a light weight jacket on. You’re going to want to be able to move your arms. Sittling outside means you wear your hood or grab a hat. You also slip your hands into gloves/mittens. For the most possible warmness you can create, grab a fleece blanket to top it all off. I sit on a cold hard metal porch chair from the forties so I added a blanket liner to the chair and put a pillow behind my back. It is suggested for several reasons that you bring a cup of coffee or tea out with you in a travel mug and drink it slowly. It’ll help warm you from the inside and help to keep your eyelids from drooping in the early part of your wait.

Since Saturday we’ve seen birds, a bunny and this morning a skunk. The coon is hiding from us and that’s fine by us. I just wish the contractor would get his butt over here faster. In the meantime we’ll sit and today we’ll pick up the ordered supplies of an electronic rodent repeller and some kind of powder that if poured along the foundation deters them from getting close. Hopefully this will be the last morning I spend On the Path of a Ringtail.

All of us who live in a house and have gone outside one morning to find a tiny flag waving in the breeze have asked the same question. Our neighbor next door had some work done to their yard the day before. Did the gardener put it there? Should we call our neighbor and ask? Sometimes we call, sometimes we don’t but invariably when we do the answer we get is, “No. My guy didn’t put it there. I don’t know why it’s there either.”

At this point we begin to circle around it in our head. Is it electric, gas or water? Are they going to be digging? Am I about to have a mud patch for my front lawn? Frustrated and a bit aggravated because no one ever calls to tell us what’s going on. For our own sanity we put the situation out of our mind for the moment but that doesn’t stop us from looking out our window at every heavy motor we hear pass by.

Thanks to a company named Julie Inc. (Illinois one-call System) I now know the answer and can pass the information on to you.


RED = Electric
YELLOW = Gas, Oil or Petroleum
ORANGE = Communications
BLUE = Potable Water
PURPLE = Reclaimed Water, Irrigation
GREEN = Sewer
WHITE = Proposed Excavations
PINK = Temporary Survey

As you can see, it’s all pretty straight forward and thanks to the above key I will know from no on what’s going on on my side of the grass.

If you happen to live in Illinois – Julie Inc. asks that you call them first before you do any digging of your own so you don’t hit something by accident. It’s free. Call at (800) 892-0123 or go to

DJ Marcussen’s book The Tax Angel is a delightful and partial representation of what happens to thousands of individuals when tax season comes around. She writes with a witty style that is both concise and entertaining. It is a wonderful read for both the tax professional as well as anyone who has ever endeavored to do their own tax return.

Join Michael and his lovely new wife Kimi, a tax accountant workaholic, as they discover that the real test of love and a strong marriage can be found in trust and the dozens of scraps of paper we diligently keep for tax purposes that drive us mad. You’re in for a bumpy ride. Enjoy and don’t say you weren’t warned. Tax season can get to be scary. Ask Michael. He’ll tell you.

Currently it is available on



To find out more about this author, visit her at

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