Sunday, April 08, 2012

Once You Go Gray, You Never Go Black

Sheila, February 2012
Hey I am finally somewhat of a trendsetter. For years now my hair has been gray—not that I didn’t once and only once have a fling with color. I was so warped after that experience and the hole it left in my wallet that I swore off coloring my hair as I progressively grew more and more gray.

Mad Men Betty Draper double.
Perhaps I was conditioned to give hair coloring a try at least once by those 50’s and 60’s Clairol advertisements asking, “Does she . . . or doesn’t she? Hair color so natural only her hairdresser knows for sure!” Maybe my own mother’s long time love affair with Loving Care colored my viewpoint and made me predisposed to think this is what modern, working women did when those first stray grays made their unwanted appearance.

However, Leanne Italie’s recent AP story on women with gray hair proved a bit of a validation of my choice although there are apparently quite a few other women out there for whom going gray isn’t yet a reality. Only their hairdresser knows for sure—and likely most other people for that matter. Who the heck are they kidding?
Christine Lagarde

With strong and talented women of gray like Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and actress and yogurt spokeswoman Jamie Lee Curtis, this gray revolution can’t help but grow, and I’m finally okay with my hair!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Awesome Birthday at Aurora Fire Department

Last Saturday the firefighters and paramedics at Aurora Fire Department Station Number 10 helped make one special birthday celebration for Nicolas Noblitt. Some months back, Nic’s mom and dad bid on the fire station birthday party at a charity auction and won. According to the firemen (I can safely say that since this station does not have women among the crew), they don’t do parties. Someone with connections made the event happen and Nic was the happy recipient.

The firemen had set up the long tables right next to the trucks. Nic wheeled around and inspected the trucks as his guests arrived. Then Lt. Matson gave everyone a tour of the station and let the kids climb up into the fire truck and sit behind the big wheel. After pizza (interrupted by a paramedics call) and birthday cake, a couple of the other firemen showed just what it takes to get dressed for a call.

What a great day! I think the grownups enjoyed the party as much as the kids. Many thanks to the Aurora Fire Department!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Grandson

I suppose he deserves more than a quick post, but Nathaniel Trent Noblitt is one fine little guy. I suppose too that he will take the world on his own terms since he decided to come a day before the scheduled c-section for his mother. He is beautiful, with a high-pitched cry to let the world know that he requires attention--not that I have heard too much of it. That is the beauty of grandparenting. For the most part we get the fun stuff and the parents get the practical.
“Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.”

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Helen Keller

Truck & driver from United Stationers.

After months of work to get approval from the food bank for a same-day pantry, we finally had our first distribution day this month. Thrice weekly for years we had been getting bread donations and distributing them to our residents, but this undertaking was on a definitely grander scale. We asked for permission to do a monthly distribution of food. When the only way to gain approval was as a weekly pantry, we said, “We will make it work.”

A partial pallet of eggplant & me.
The order was placed last week, volunteers from our major donor lined up, and the cherry on the top—we actually went out to the food bank and made the pickup--thanks again to our donor who provided the driver and truck. As my colleague Penny and I poked through the extra free stuff, I thought about what a long journey it had been to this point. Our purchases were fork lifted into the truck and off we went back to our property. Little did we realize what was in that pallet of produce and just how many loaves of bread were in the boxes on another pallet. But, free is free and these free items were intriguing.

As our maintenance team unloaded the truck we soon discovered that the pallet of produce was entirely comprised of eggplant. However, the cereal, rice, canned tomatoes, diced fruit, coffee, crackers, turkey sausages, and more free produce seemed just perfect.

Penny took a knife to the cabbage to clean it up a bit, and we all worked hard before our senior residents started to congregate in the lobby. We had told the residents to come at their appointed times, but excited and curious residents were already waiting for 45 minutes before we let the first person through the door—a little Serbian lady. They came, a virtual United Nations. Polish, Serbian, Bosnian, Russian, African (Eritrean, Ethiopian, Liberian, Somali). Indian, Iraqi, Iranian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Cuban, Armenian, Pakistani, Argentinean, Jamaican, and American—all united in one purpose: free food.

The beauty of this operation, and yes, it is a bit of an operation, is that our residents, particularly the senior ones, don’t have to drive, beg a ride, or hop on the bus to get to a food pantry. Fueled by increased applications for SNAP benefits a.k.a. food stamps, we wanted to supplement our residents’ food budgets. We don’t pretend to be on the scale of other local food pantries, but we share their mission—provide food to those who need it.

Angela from United Stationers staffed our last pantry.
This week’s Marian Park Food Pantry was on a smaller scale as we opened our food storage closet pantry instead of using the community room. This move cuts down on staff time. We will have three weeks with the pantry operating this way and one big distribution with fresh produce, bread, frozen meat, and whatever perishable items we can snag. Would be nice to get a freezer but we have faith we will find one.

So, if anyone ever doubts what you are able to do, listen to more from Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Retro Morning Coffee

I’ve had the General Electric 12-cup percolator for about a month. After a long-term relationship with Mr. Coffee, I find this coffee maker just right, and I’m enjoying a cup of Eight O’clock Coffee as I write this. Sorry to say, Eight O’clock Coffee rebranded its iconic red and black packaging so I’m not totally retro this morning.

Mr. Coffee never really delivered. Sure, it was coffee, but not good, hearty coffee. I tried Black & Decker and Proctor Silex. No, not right either. On a whim and after remembering Mother’s percolator, I went retro. Of course, if I really wanted to do retro right, I’d use a stovetop percolator like Paula Deen’s 8-cup percolator, about which she’s quoted as saying, “No kitchen would be complete without a nostalgic percolator.”

I have to agree. Happy Saturday!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Reflections

Yesterday, the elementary school that's catty-corner from my house set up a big Spiderman moon jump. Cars parked up and down the street, and I assumed there was a fall fair, festival, or Halloween carnival going on.

I thought back to the early 60s when I was in elementary school. The school always had a Halloween carnival. There’d be a cakewalk, fishpond, games, lots of food, and the crowning of the Halloween Princess.

One year, when I was in fourth grade, for some reason I can’t now recall, I decided to give it a shot—a surprising choice for an introvert. The way you got to be princess was by collecting pennies. The girl with the most won. For days before Halloween, I had roamed the streets near the school knocking on doors along with a friend who lived nearby. I lived in the country and had but a few neighbors to pester. Pretty much the only way to make a go at the contest was to solicit town folks. So, right after school let out, we’d drop off our schoolbooks at the friend’s house and head out on our mission.

By Halloween, with my friend’s help, I’d collected so many pennies that I thought for sure I had won. I couldn’t really enjoy any of the games, thinking instead of winning. As the pennies were counted, it soon became evident that I had been beat by a classmate—a popular girl from a wealthy family. I don’t remember what I did exactly. I just remember feeling that it was not fair that I had pounded those streets and knocked on those doors. Rightly or wrongly, I believed my classmate’s daddy had brought her title.

Years later, I enjoy this time of year and look forward to handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. But I also know that the little things in life can stick with us and color who we become and what we choose to do with our lives. I never became the popular girl. My mother worked when many mothers stayed home. My father couldn’t keep a job as a glazier, bouncing in and out of the mental hospital. I became dependable, stuck to the rules, sucked it up, went with the flow, and made a point not to cause trouble.

I wonder today what would have happened if I had won that contest? Would I be different? A risk taker perhaps? Popular? No, I don’t suppose so. Not my style. And then I think, I didn’t turn out so bad and my life has been rich enough without the title of Halloween Princess.

But every Halloween I am reminded of how I felt that day. And I know now that the little things are sometimes just as important as the big things.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Getting the Lay of the Land in Aurora, Illinois

Summer update: I’ve moved from Batavia to Aurora, Illinois, the second biggest city in Illinois. I’m two blocks away from older son, and family. Grandma Sheila, that’s what Nic calls me, can walk to baby sit these days. I promise not to become the annoying mother-in-law Marie from the TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond, to my daughter-in-law, but there are parallels like the brother who lives at home. And differences. There’s no Frank.

It’s a nice neighborhood near Aurora University. I can:
  • watch the peewee football players practice after school at Freeman Elementary school across the street;
  • shop at Prisco’s Fine Foods and have my groceries carried out to my car with nary a tip expected;
  • go to a Blvd District neighbors’ meeting on neighborhood safety issues on Tuesday night;
  • visit the Jewel, a Wal-Mart, Aldi’s, public library branch, an old-fashioned hardware store, walkin medical clinic (just in case—I really don’t want to visit this but it’s nice to know it’s there), and more nearby;
  • eat at restaurants close by like the Roundhouse, an historic downtown Aurora landmark that’s recently shed the Walter Payton name;
  • take classes at Waubonsee Community College’s new downtown Aurora campus (disclaimer: my son works for the college); and
  • check out the farmers market every Saturday in warm weather and enjoy local musicians like the lady Patsy Cline singer who was wailing out a mean version of Crazy the day I stopped by for tomatoes.

And speaking of tomatoes, my next door neighbor has generously supplied us with the most amazingly beautiful heirloom tomatoes which certainly proves growing monster tomatoes without fertilizer is not only possible but delicious. She promised to give me tips when spring planting season rolls around.

So, I am exploring and getting the lay of the land. Can you tell I kind of like it here? Should maybe I change the name of this blog?