The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: chicago

Yeah, it's a hot summer…

"Luscious Lavender," poem by Annika Perry

“Luscious Lavender,” poem by Annika Perry


A sight for sore eyes, no? Thank you, Annika for giving me permission to share this as part of my little oasis offering to my readers – not that any of it will actually cool us down or offer any solutions to the state of our Global Warming Reality…but, well, we’re all entitled to a break.
While my forays into the medicinal properties of lavender are legendary, pushing the boundaries of application (remember my ‘loaded brownie’ recipe confession?), there is also the purple presence of this flowering herb to consider.
Mary Lou Mawicke Bruno headstone, Ft. Logan

A shortened stem leaning against Ma’s headstone before Dad passed away.


I love purple, it’s refreshing and mysterious all at the same time. It’s also a shared favorite color with my late Ma…
This color has a history with my family, interwoven into the fabric of our lives. Some of those threads include what I named early on as being Bruno’s Purple Giants – irises that were originally planted in our Boulder garden the first spring after we moved there (Fall 1969) and have been in the family ever since. Transplanted clumps bought from the local farm down the road, Long’s Gardens, they took to the earth and exploded into tall stems loaded with hugely fragrant, deeply lavender-purple gems.
As me and my bro grew up, married and moved into homes of our own, tubers were dug, shared and planted with each successive garden.
my flower child michelle

My flower child Michelle (notice unflattened iris stem to right of hat)


One such bed lined the front walk to our first home during our kids’ growing up years where specimens routinely grew taller than a kindergartener. Notice Michelle’s purple slicker? It rained that day back in 1992.
When she came home from school (kindergarten), the normally taller Bruno’s Purple Giants irises were slightly flattened by the intense spring storm…except one battered stem.
My flower child, Michelle, surrounded by a walkway of towering purple delights – yummy memories – and an image oasis for this mom to savor.
Last summer, while finishing the distribution of Dad’s estate and getting Ma & Dad’s house ready to sell, I angsted over a nagging reluctance to give up the remnants of the family tubers which had been growing in a corner of their neglected garden. Because hubby and I have not owned property since selling our home in 2009, it wasn’t in the best interest of those tubers to be dug up and then not transplanted. As much as I wanted to keep with tradition, it just wasn’t feasible.
Wouldn’t you know, my flower child Michelle, now all grown up, came up with a plan. At the end of her trip to meet with us to celebrate Joe’s b-day and help with the cleaning of the house and such, we dug a few up, packed them dry in brown paper bags and buried ‘em in her suitcase. Her thinking being, she could at least plant them at her (and her husband David’s) place in MI to get established there. Given the fact that those poor tubers were disrupted from their normal growth cycle, it was dicey, but worth a try. Imagine, those Bruno’s Purple Giants replanted in yet another family garden and available for us to dig a few for whenever hubby and I do settle into a home of our own with a place to garden.
Someday.
And that’s another oasis for me to think on – hope is as refreshing as a drink of cool lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

~~

On another note – yes a little pun – please enjoy this classic and appropriate to the theme of this post video, Summer in the City by one of my fav groups* back in the day. It brings back memories of summers in Chicago as a kid growing up before we moved to Boulder…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=158&v=U5bUmx-hk-c

*for a cool – pun intended – interview with John Sebastian, click here

longest night, Reflections during

Winter Solstice: a day with the least amount of sunshine potential; the shortest day and longest night; a time of reversals.

To me, the Winter Solstice feels more like the ending of the past year with the dawning of the true ‘new year.’  An organic New Year’s Eve, so to speak. What better time to reflect on the past year, letting go and easing into the ‘new year’ as each day from this point in time gains length.
With these reflections comes the announcement that this will be my final posting for 2018 with an undetermined first post date for the upcoming year. That’s just my convoluted way of saying I’m taking a blogging break!
😉
That said, let us continue.
In reviewing my Morning Pages* over this past year I realized it has been a full and satisfying 12 months. No family or close friends died or declared any horrific medical diagnosis, the selling of my folks’ house went smoothly and the settling of their estate is almost completed, we visited and celebrated with family members and friends throughout the year and throughout the country, and the scary emergencies we did encounter were accompanied by His ‘peace that passes all understanding’ as we walked through those life-paths.
It seems we landed in a junction of respite from several years of elder care, personal pain, disappointments, grief and such.
Fielding the good with the bad, several themes** emerged as well – often revealing forward movement on goals, desires, hopes and dreams; working through the ups & downs of life; grappling with deeper issues in living a purposeful life.
Why then this lingering sense of sadness?
Is it the darkness? The longer nights and shorter days? Grey black skies, claustrophobic fog?
Not really.
I relish this Winter Solstice evening – prolonged darkness, giving permission to hunker down, and delve into soul searching, validating this yearning to be still and listen to what the Lord through His creation and past events is speaking to me.
Then what is contributing to this heaviness, this disheartening sense of impotence in making a difference in life’s inequities?
Ah yes, of course. Events over this past year, worldwide and oh-too-to-close-to-home local happenings.

  • Parkland school shootings, Las Vegas, Nevada concert shootings, synagogue slaughter, humble town of Florence, SC massacre and on & on infinitum…
  • Manchester arena bombing anniversary representing terrorism in a free country with strict gun control.
  • Never ending hordes of everyday people fleeing their beloved homeland for a safe place to stay alive…Syrians, Central Americans, Africans…
  • Governments killing their own citizens in the name of advancing their own personal agenda.
  • Free world border ‘wars’ using displaced, desperate persons, families & children as fodder for unwinnable negotiations.
  • Increased homelessness in the midst of hardworking middle class professionals – and all the ramifications of undeserved shame while struggling to continue to survive in an ever increasing hostile American society.
  • Constant bombardment of Trumpian Temper Tantrums affecting everyday Americans (sorry, I don’t normally specify political opinions…please give me latitude during this Winter’s Solstice)

And yet, this is all not new…the poor have always been with us, the rich and powerful have always manipulated laws to benefit themselves, increasing their wealth and opportunities, to the detriment of everyday people, and, what of the ever presence of war – always with us.
1968 was a bad year – Vietnam War, numerous assassinations, student protests…Decades earlier, WWII, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Holocaust
The world’s suffering is so personal.
It hurts.
And yet, I am reminded:

“God wastes nothing – not even our darkness”


*from which I am taking an indeterminate break also, after 28+ years of faithful jottings!
**my music, hubby’s new business, finding home, strengthening relationships…

Sixty Pho' part two

Back to that postcard…not only did the poster quote aspect of the card resonate with my style sensibilities but it triggered a punny approach in recounting a recent milestone event in my life (as reflected in the post title). Can you guess, yet, what that might be? Hint: keep in mind the correct pronunciation of the word pho’ as the phrase Sixty Pho’ is spoken out loud.
To clarify the timeline, Joe visited Vietnam the beginning of October for about 33 days and I received the Make Pho’ Not War postcard the beginning of December – textbook status quo for overseas snail mail delivery.
By then, we had already seen our son in Chicago two days after he got back to Denver from Vietnam in early November.

Say what?

Yes, it is weird to get ‘after the fact’ stuff in the snail mail.

Now, on with the Sixty Pho’ story…

64 mugs and Alchemy Coffee Beans

‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?’


It’s no secret to close family and friends that this is hubby’s and mine 64th birthday year (oh dear, the bunny’s out of the bag and into the blogosphere for sure now). I’ve always wanted to have a Beatles “When I’m 64” birthday celebration when the time came and the time is – AHEM – now. I turned that fateful age in October and hubby will catch up with me after Christmas in December.
I had always thought by now we’d be in our own home again. You know, a place big enough to throw one of our famous family/friend bashes, in this case a 64th Beatles birthday bash.
Joe's birthday July 2018

Joe’s birthday, July 2018 (Michelle, me, Joe)


That was not to be, as finding home is still an elusive yet hopeful work in progress. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, hubby secretly strategized with the kiddos on how to make that bash happen regardless. So, while we all met in Colorado for Joe’s birthday during our time of getting the folks’ house ready to be put on the market (yeah, we find ways to meet regardless of the miles that separate us) a solution broke forth.
Why not meet in Chicago?
Middle child Michelle is only a few hours away in Michigan from Chicago, so she and David could easily meet us there for a weekend jaunt as a break from her PhD thesis presentation prep. (BTW: she is now an official PhD candidate as her thesis was accepted! Yippee!)
Why not meet in Chicago? Hubby and I certainly don’t mind the road trip from South Carolina to anywhere. The mileage all goes towards the goal of reaching 400K at least*, if not all the way back from the Moon at 477,800 miles!
The location seemed logical as many members of the Family still live in the Chicago area, though several of us cousins and the remaining oldsters have moved away for various reasons. Chicago is the origination point of our Family after immigrating into the US from Calabria, Italia in the early 20th century. Hence, us cousins and our respective parental siblings were born and raised there. Indeed, Chicago is still a central hub to most of us.
Planning for our Chicago destination-as-solution to the 64th birthday bash blasted off in earnest. One Chicago cousin helped in finding a great Italian place central to all locals to hold the bash, I nailed the details with the restaurant, Michelle sent out e-vites, and the boys (son and son-in-law) got on with arranging the star set-piece, “When I’m 64,” for tenor sax and oboe.
Those of us who were able to come to the party.

Those of us who were able to come to the party. Except for the end persons, the five of us in the front row are the attending cousins – I’m the only one of them who likes pictures taken, so I’m lucky to have this. (L-R: Pat, Joanne, Dennis, me, Bob)


Anyway all that to say, many of us met up in Chicago – Michelle and David from MI, Joe right after getting back from his trip to Vietnam, and a handful of Chicago cousins and cousin-in-laws for a shared 64th Beatles b-day bash – and – as an excuse to mangia together in early November before the holidays got going full blast. Of course, not everyone could make it, (mostly the lawyers in the Family who had on-going cases in session, out-of-towners, and the oldsters who couldn’t travel the distance) but it was fun.
Joe and David playing the star set-piece

Joe and David playing the star set-piece


 
Gotta make those milestones FUN or else they become more like millstones!
As mentioned before, in keeping with my wishes and the traditions of our slice of the Family**, Joe and David played the star set-piece as opener for the mangia party (would love to post their performance video sometime, but licensing issues especially with high profile ‘covers’ can be legal nightmares – most non-musicians don’t realize this is a real problem – so that’s not happening in today’s post).
 
Instead, this vid will just have to do:
(click here)

As for me and mine, the answer to that question: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four?” is a resounding YES! How about for you and yours?

*Odometer alert: as of this writing, we are at 397,963. 🙂

One of many places Dad played back in the day.

The Green Mill in Chicago, one of many places Dad played back in the day.


**As in our musical roots

 
 
 
 
 
 
Michelle, Joe, me, hubby in front of the Green Mill Lounge in Chicago, taking in a show.

Michelle, Joe, me, hubby in front of the Green Mill Lounge in Chicago, taking in a show.


PS – We took in a show at the Green Mill the night before our 64th bash

40 years and counting

Terry’s take on these 40 years…

June 17, 1978 – June 17, 2018

Many months ago I was rooting around on the internet looking into some music. I happened to come across a young jazz saxophonist named Grace Kelly and was watching her Livestream studio session. I started watching the video and really enjoyed her enthusiasm and music. I thought of our son Joe who is a jazz saxophonist also, but I decided not to send him a link to it as he was off touring New Zealand/Fiji/Australia at that time and wasn’t sure how good his internet was. I also thought of my late father-in-law who had died less than a year and a half before. He also was a jazz saxophonist who played with Benny Goodman and other greats in Chicago and who up to nearly the time that he died was always looking for new trends/music.
On the third song of the Livestream, Grace started explaining how she had come to write the song she was about to play. What she said, and more importantly what she played and sang touched a chord in me. I knew then that the song she wrote was a song that described how I felt about Laura and that that song was going to be our 40th anniversary theme song (not just our 40th but our lifelong song). Our anniversary was still many months away, so I tucked this song away so I could share it with Laura during our anniversary.
I started researching Grace Kelly a little more and it turned out that she was going to be playing in Las Cruces, New Mexico on May 27th. It just so happened that I lived in Las Cruces during high school, went off to serve in the Navy and after the Navy came back to Las Cruces to go to college.  While in college on a co-op assignment for NOAA in Boulder, Colorado I met and married Laura and we moved back to Cruces to finish my college education before moving on.
We were planning a trip to Colorado to take care of business in early May and I wanted to go to New Mexico to both see Grace Kelly and to visit my parents’ graves. The timing seemed to be aligning to be able to spring on Laura this song at a Grace Kelly concert. Las Cruces is not a tremendously large town so I even hoped to run into Grace somewhere around town so that I could request that she play the song for Laura (not like trying to find Mr. T on Mulholland Drive or in Bel-Air or Hollywood – inside family story).
Unfortunately, our plans changed and we needed to go to Texas for business purposes before we went to Colorado which meant that we would end up in Las Cruces weeks before Grace Kelly was going to play. Knowing this I sat down with Laura before we left, told her that what she was going to see was the way I felt about her and that it was our anniversary song. I put the Livestream on our TV and jumped to 19:03 for the beginning of the story and the song.  We sat there and watched the song (multiple times) trying to hold back the tears of our love for each other.
There are some songs that have a special meaning to me about Laura, like Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” and now Grace Kelly’s “Feels Like Home”.
Our anniversary this year falls on Father’s day and I can’t think of a better Father’s day gift than sharing this song which beautifully expresses the way I feel about Laura.
Laura shortly after found the song (sans Grace’s explanation) which is shown below. The full video is here, start at 19:03 for story before song.
Thank you Grace for this beautiful song and thank you Laura for a lifetime of “Feels Like Home”.

Kitty’s Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Psalms 34:8

Yes, you read that right, this second VBSC post brings Kitty to the table. Her human of choice is writer and yarn (he)artist, L. Marie, a native Chicagoan. She earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and continues to write, submit manuscripts and encourage others pursuing the writer’s path.
Actually, she encourages others, period. Skilled in crochet and knitting, she often yarns-up gifts for those she feels need a little unexpected lift or surprise.
Case in point, a few days ago, I discovered the owl featured in the photos below roosting in our snail mail box. I’m sure Kitty is relieved that she has one less ‘friend’ she’s obliged to share brownies with, but I’m touched at the thoughtfulness of my blogger buddy.
However, ‘owlie’ does not yet have a name…heck, (s)he doesn’t even have a gender designation. Soooo…if any ideas come to mind, please mention suggestions in the comments below along with any other thoughts this post may inspire.  
UPDATE: L. Marie and I have decided that “Owlie” fits him just fine.

Don’t forget to take a peek at L.Marie’s blog and maybe try out the brownie recipe at the end of this, her guest post.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m L. Marie. My blog is El Space: The Blog of L. Marie. Many thanks to Laura for inviting me to participate in her Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle. And thank you to Heather who wrote the original post that inspired Laura.

Kitty and her friends. Not that she thinks she’s above them. But pictures don’t lie. . . .

Kitty and her friends. Not that she thinks she’s above them. But pictures don’t lie. . . .


Actually, Kitty, who is sitting here staring at me, feels she was the inspiration behind the sharing circle, because she’s trying to turn over a new leaf. Less crime, more altruism—that sort of thing. In fact, she thinks it should be renamed the Kitty and Friends Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle, since she coerced invited two friends to join her in a photo op.
Though she doesn’t consider me a friend (more like a slave, really) she expected me to do all of the brownie baking while she did all of the tasting.
When it comes to brownies, I’m not much of a baker. A year ago, I made a box recipe that was supposed to be kindergarten easy. But the brownies turned out dry and about half the height they were supposed to achieve after baking.
Picture 3

Ginger and her son, Johnny


 
My good friend Ginger makes great brownies. I’ve known Ginger for many years. Not only is a she a great wife, and mother to three offspring (two of whom are in college), she is also an administrative assistant at Covenant Classical School in Naperville, Illinois.
As if her life weren’t busy enough, Ginger also deals with Celiac disease. I’ll let her tell you about that.
 
 
 
Continue reading

Shout Out: Bringing Music to Life

bringing music to life logo

Al Bruno - promo photo circa 1940 - 1950

Dad’s (Al Bruno) promo photo ~ Chicago, circa 1945 (?)


Shortly after my jazzman Dad passed away last year, I received a letter in the snail mail announcing a contribution had been made to the Bringing Music to Life’s instrument repair fund in his memory by one of my cousins* and her husband.  What a perfect way to honor my Dad!
Founded in 2010, this non-profit organization not only provides musical instruments to students in underfunded schools throughout Colorado, but refurbishes each donated instrument before being placed in their eager hands.

“If you take a musical instrument that is in bad need of repair or even partial need of repair and put that into the hands of a 4th or 5th or 6th grader, they’re going to be very defeated when they try to play that instrument.  They’re going to think it’s them – they’re not gonna know it’s the instrument.” (Dan Parker, pres. Colorado Institute of Musical Instrument Technology)

Continue reading

I MISS MY COFFEE!

Been up and down with that lousy respiratory bug for the past four weeks…Hubby, too…Been unable to taste or smell for at least the last two weeks (well really only ten days and counting but still)…Hubby has his back…Been on a self-imposed coffee fast because I can’t taste it so why bother?…Hubby doesn’t get the coffee thing…Gettin’ kinda cranky…

Okay, so maybe I’m going through a good healthy coffee purge/cleansing – Sooooo: should I still pick up that first cuppa once I get my taste buds back?

You betcha!

I Miss My Coffee!!!!

coffee design

I’m going psychedelic-crazy without my hot-shot brew


Go here for my new fav coffeeshop blog.
Go and here & here to more fully my relationship with the stuff (be sure to scroll down to the bottom of that second post to get the fairytale true story).

And The Winner Is…

“Admit it. You tuned in to see who won a copy of “What I Wish I Could Tell You.”  Well, I’ll get to that right after this…”

Thus begins a typical winner revealing post from the blog of L.Marie with my own book offering inserted into the original text.  That great opening line is in fact taken from one of my favorite posts of hers called “Wall-to-Wall People.”   It is a fine example of how easily she articulates thoughts I am only able to think. Continue reading

Sharing a Double Grief

The day after my cousins and Aunt Dolores returned to Chicago from Dad’s funeral* in Colorado, my Aunt Betty fell, broke her arm and entered into hospice care within the week.
Unlike Dad, she and his other sibs were/are lifelong Cubs fans. And I confess I caught the cub-bug from them back in the day!  Freshly back from Colorado** hubby and I settled into a regular routine of watching 2016’s historic World Series. It helped ease re-entry into our life away from loved ones, life’s new normal and tending to everyday living in our little rental here in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, my cousins and Aunt Dolores had the television on for all the games, too. They spent time with Aunt Betty during her last ‘dream-sleep’ days listening and talking with her about all the exciting baseball action.
On November 1st, Dad’s sister joined the increasing Family party up in heaven.
When news spread over the Bruno Grapevine about her passing, I took comfort in thinking she had the best seat in the Universe to see those Cubbies take the World Series in all its victorious glory***.
The very next day, Terry and I took to the road again to attend the wake/funeral mass on Chicago’s south side.
Going back to old family locations, rejoining the cousins and the last two remaining of Dad’s sibs proved to be an unexpected blessing in the midst of my own raw grief.
I received an extra gift from my aunt – a chance to honor her – standing for Dad – and a chance to continue in the healing and comfort with Family – Coming back to my roots and laying Dad to rest there, too.
Surrounded by Family still in mourning over the death of Dad; beginning the trail of sorrow again with the passing of Aunt Betty – shared sorrow, shared support.
Joining joyful memories with the present shifting of Family ‘residency’ – sharing in the double grief – makes me think Aunt Betty waited to sit at that Family Table till Dad would be there, too.

Betty Jane (Bruno) Evans
2/7/1928 – 11/1/2016

Miss all of you…

Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) - missing only 4 oldsters. l - r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy

Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) – missing only 4 Bruno oldsters. l – r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy


 
*Dad died 9/22, we held the funeral mass, internment and celebration of life feast on 10/14 to enable more out-of-town family to attend
**Terry drove out of Hurricane Matthew on 10/8 in order to be with me pre-post funeral, and most of all to bring me back home with him; we left 10/21
***Cool tidbit: another cousin got to see the celebration parade up front since he has a law office on Michigan Ave

© 2020 Laura Bruno Lilly

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑