Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

With Flying Colors

Monday, August 1st, 2011

airplane

By all accounts, Baby’s 1st Flight was a success.

Sure, there were a few bouts of excessive wiggling accompanied by the occasional ear-splitting devilish squeal. And there were also a few crankypants cries when Miss Cheeks was trying to nap and not able to get as comfy (e.g. flat on her face) as she would have liked.

goodie-bagBut those goodie bags did the trick with garnering the goodwill of nearly all of our airborne neighbors, excluding the sourpuss elderly couple who clearly were too good to be sitting back with all us riffraff in coach.

They certainly charmed the 3 teenage boys who sat behind us on the flight home. They received their bags o’ sugar with exclamations of: “No way!” “For real?!” “Awesome.” And my personal favorite, “Dude. I’m totally tweeting this!”

When we landed at O’Hare, I had a few bags left and passed them out to the flight attendants and pilot on our way off the plane.

 Turns out that was an excellent decision, because the day after we arrived home, a special FedEx package arrived for Lucette. aa-letter

The letter reads:
“Dear Lucette,
I received a phone call from the crew on your recent flight from San Francisco to Chicago. They were all so impressed with your grace and gentle spirit on your first flight.

On behalf of American Airlines, it is an honor to include you among our loyal customers.

We wish you a lifetime of safe travel and joy discovering the world.”

The package included a “My First Flight” certificate complete with AA wings and a gold pendant for a necklace.

I admit, I got a little verklempt over that one. Such a nice gesture, and completely unexpected.

Lu’s first trip to her Mimi and Papa’s farm in Illinois was quite eventful.

pizza

First, though, we had to stop at Lou Malnati’s and introduce her to real Chicago pizza.

Safe to say she’s a fan. (And she made her daddy proud with the amount of pie she put away.)

 The week that followed was full of hot July weather, lots of swimming, lap chickens, meeting horses,horse mooing at guernsey cows and winning over a black lab named Charlie, who became Lucette’s devoted servant after noticing the copious amounts of food that were tossed over the side of her high chair.

Even though she’s too little to remember, I showed her the house I grew up in out on Palmyra Road and introduced her to many of the places that were the landmarks of my childhood.

We’ll do it again when she’s older, I’m sure. But this time, her first time, will stick in my mind.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, a business idea for Public Relations Plane Kits for Babies is in the works, thanks to my entrepreneurial sister. I’ll keep you posted.

welcome-to-farm
-Lo, who says that a lap chicken is a chicken who sits in your lap, of course.

Tornado Weather

Monday, December 27th, 2010

jessica

A belated Christmas present just for you… a shiny new cinepoem.

This one is called “Tornado Weather”. It was shot back in May in my hometown of Dixon, Illinois and features the lovely Jessica Hussung. Since I was 6 months pregnant at the time of the shoot, I had a lot of help from my friend Anna, who also happens to be Jessica’s mum.

So thanks to both of you, Jesse and Anna! And thanks for being so patient and waiting so long to see the result of your hard work on that steamy summer day.

You can check out Tornado Weather on the cinepoems page, as always, and also on YouTube. If you watch it on YouTube, be sure to leave a comment or thumbs up there.

It’s the last cinepoem for awhile, I’m afraid. I have ideas for new shoots in the new year, but nothing is in the can yet.

And to answer the question many of you have been asking me… Yes, the Bean will be making her cinepoem debut someday, but I might wait until she can walk first.

Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Bonne Annee to you all.

-Lo, with love and great expectations for 2011.

Down on the farm

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

mood: sleepy | drinking: water

tractor1

There is something about going back to the farm that never gets old.

I haven’t lived there for at least 15 years now (and have no intention of moving back), but I love to visit. Of course, the actual farm I grew up on is now home to strangers, and the big grey house where all my childhood memories took root is now painted a trendy shade of purple.

My parents moved to a different farm, 8 or 9 miles away from our old home, when I was just a year or two out of college. But they’ve been there long enough, and I’ve visited often enough, that it’s endearingly familiar.

This time I went back with Bean in my belly, and my sister and nephew in tow. The little guy is now nearly 3, and old enough to get really excited about things like tractors and horses and big piles of sand.

Every day we were there, as soon as my nephew saw my dad he’d say, “Papa, I ride tractor? I ride big tractor? I ride bucket tractor?” And my dad, the ever-obliging grandpa, would prop Jude up on his lap and drive a never-ending series of tractors up and down the driveway.

Watching my parents as grandparents is delightful. Although, as my sister pointed out on this visit, my mom would never have given us all those sugary treats when we were kids. We had to suffer through “chocolate chip” cookies festooned with nasty carob droplets. But my nephew? He gets the real thing. Plus brownies. And M&Ms. And ice cream cake.

Now that grandchildren are making their appearance, my mom and dad are beginning to rearrange their lives in preparation for an eventual westward move to California. Even if Jude were the only grandchild, they’d make the move, but now they’ve got Bean due to show up soon, and later this fall we’ll meet my sister’s second child.

It will be amazing to have my parents just an hour or two away, instead of thousands of miles. Just to be able to make impromptu plans that don’t involve plane tickets and rental cars would feel miraculous.

But I’ll admit it, I’m going to miss showing up at the old stomping grounds. I’ll miss the red barns and the Midwest accents and drinking “pop” instead of soda.

I’ll miss the thrill of seeing, after years of absence, sights that used to be as familiar to me as my own face in the mirror.

I’ll miss the sense of history embedded on every backroad. Here is where I learned to drive, as did my father before me. Here’s where I had my first kiss, where I earned my first paycheck, where I ran barefoot chasing lightning bugs.

I love San Francisco, and I have 10 years of history here, now. And soon Bean will be making all of her childhood memories here, in our little house by the sea.

But part of me will always be a farm girl, able to scale fences and bridle horses and remain totally unfazed by the presence of poop. And I wouldn’t change that part of my history for anything.

-Lo, back to the city life.

Ah, Young Love

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Mood: placid | Drinking: tea, again

byron_nuclear

Nuclear

In the back seat of Tiny’s red ford festiva
we sat like sardines and trembled
when our arms brushed skin that was not our own.

I remember staring out the window until my neck began to tick,
mesmerized as if everything flashing by was fascinating,
as if I had not already memorized and catalogued
every inch of Route 2 from Rockford to Sterling and back.

The car roared loud and hot with laughter, five teenagers
packed in a tin can and desperate for distraction,
driving as though the act alone was the destination.

I feigned participation and watched instead
the way the Rock River gurgled along beside us
brackish and grey and choked with spring fever.
I tried to catch the eye of a white-tailed deer
hiding in the tangle of roadside shrubs
waiting for twilight to thicken.

I kept my head to the glass to avoid
the look of our thighs pressed together
and burning, to escape the sight
of your arm next to mine,
your hand on your knee,
finger twitching.

At that moment all I wanted in the whole world
was the weight of your shoulder falling against mine
as we zoomed around a curve.

When we leaned the other way around the next turn
and my hand slipped from my lap and fell against yours,
it was not accidental.

You nearly set off a heart attack then
by crooking your pinkie finger around my thumb
as we circled through Byron and whizzed past the nuclear plant.

Bending your head to look out my window
at the twin cooling towers, your breath fell
hot against my lips and my palms grew suddenly cold
as if I knew how quickly you’d break my heart.

*****

-Lo, who thinks that may be her only fond memory of a Ford Festiva.

(Photo credit goes to Bill Tracey, courtesy of Flickr)

Back Where I Belong

Friday, March 9th, 2007

ggbridgeMood: Tired
Drinking: Tea

Driving along Illinois freeways lined with crumbling grey piles of unwanted snow, I remembered all over again why I don’t live there anymore.

When my plane touched town on California concrete Wednesday night, I felt profound relief. It’s not that Illinois (or Ill-annoys, as my friend Jesse calls it) is a bad place. It’s not. Some of my best memories were made there, and I had a great time on this trip re-visiting my old haunts in Chicago with my friend C. (I was happy to see that Alien and Predator still live at The Alley, and that Medusa’s Circle still has the best collection of lightning bolt necklaces.)

Illinois used to be home. But I don’t belong there anymore.

Being back for my grandfather’s memorial service brought up more memories than usual. Maybe it was seeing all those estranged relatives — cousins I haven’t seen for nearly a decade, who now have children I’ve never met before, and great-aunts with blue hair and unwelcome advice.

Maybe it was because my mom, dad, and I spent countless hours digging through boxes and boxes of old photographs — some of my immediate family and lots of my grandpa. Photos I’ve never seen before, like the blurry black and white of my grandpa holding my dad when he was just a baby.

Maybe it was hanging out with my friend A from high school and her two children, the eldest of whom is nearly a woman herself now.

Maybe it was just driving down all those familiar roads, past places that used to define the boundaries of my world, and seeing now how small they are, and how colorless.

Maybe it was everything combined.

All I know is that there is a girl I used to be, and she exists now only in pictures and memories and whispers in the back of my mind. And although it’s always hard to leave my family and friends behind, to know that it might be a very long time before I see them again, the girl I am now belongs in San Francisco.

You can’t deny your heart its home.

-Lo, who was also reminded there is nothing to miss about the snow, the cold, and the flat grey sky.

Home on the Farm

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

thefarmMood: Rainy day delinquent
Drinking: Mint & honey tea

As long as there’s no great March snowstorm to keep me earthbound, I’ll be picking up my bags at O’Hare in a couple of days and pointing my rental car west, toward my parents’ farm.

My grandfather passed away several weeks ago, and the relatives-in-charge opted to postpone the memorial service until “spring”. I don’t know exactly why they consider Illinois’ version of March to be spring, since anyone who’s spent a winter or two there knows better. But the date has been set. So I, along with several other long-lost relatives from various states betwixt here and there will be traveling through the snow this week to pay our respects.

I’m always happy to return to the small town where I grew up. (As long as it’s for a visit and not for good.) I like to drive the roads that I used to know so well, the roads that used to make me feel like such a big fish, and see what’s changed since I last passed that way. Palmyra Road always has a few surprises. For one thing, it’s not even called Palmyra Road anymore. I think they changed the name to Prairieville Road a couple of visits back.

When I was a tiny thing, it used to be called Rural Route 1. Then, for the duration of my childhood and teen years, it was Palymra Road. Home of “Son Shine Acres”, which is where I lived from age 2 to 21, give or take a few months here and there when I was at college or pretending to live in more exotic locales like Indiana.

My parents owned a big grey farmhouse and 1.5 acres of land which housed a huge garden, a dog kennel, a chicken coop, a horse barn, and my dad’s oversized garage. For most of my childhood, we also rented the 10 or so acres of land across the driveway, which included a silo, barn, and several large outbuildings, as well as a pond, a giant cottonwood tree, and a couple of acres of rolling green hills.

I learned to ride a horse there (and broke my arm getting bucked off a donkey there). I spent countless hours carrying 5-gallon buckets of water from the well up by our house all the way down to the big red barn, which didn’t have any running water for a long time. In the winter, when the pails of water would slosh down my legs and freeze inside my boots, that path from house to barn seemed 5 miles long.

The picture above is the view from our kitchen window out over the yard, down the lane, ending at the big red barn. My dad took this photo on a winter day when I was only 4 or 5. For most of my formative years, this view comprised the largest part of my world.

My parents don’t live at 497 Palmyra Road anymore. They sold the place and moved on when my sister was in college. My bedroom with the dusky blue horseshoe wallpaper belongs to someone else now.

But every time I’m back in town, I drive the old blacktop, turning right off Route 2 by the Shell gas station, up Lord’s Hill (which seems so small now compared with San Francisco inclines), past Vitale’s Holstein farm, and then slowing down for a look as I drive past the scene of my first bike ride, first snowman, first puppy, first costume party, first horse, first skinned knee, first kiss, first driving lesson, first mulberry, first falling star, first everything that makes a childhood a good one.

It doesn’t look like much anymore. Some of the trees in our huge front yard are missing now. The Son Shine Acres sign is gone. There are no more beagles in the backyard. And who knows what ever happened to my favorite bike, the one with the banana seat and the handlebar streamers.

But it’s still a magical place to me.

So I’ll be seeing you soon, old homestead. And you, too, Sterling Girl(s)! Leave a light on for me. I’m coming home.

-Lo, who still knows where Erwin the bird is buried out in the apple orchard.