Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Little Chicago Story (Part Deux), MotherWalk 2018 AND Coldwater Creek

Good Thursday evening!

Another week has flown by! I have always said May was by far the busiest month when I had kids in school. However, I don't have kids in school any longer. (College doesn't count, because unless you're graduating, May is just a month of finishing exams and coming home. I have absolutely nothing to do with finals. Nada!)

I'm going to finish my taxi story and try to catch up a little bit on the goings-on here in The Dale.

RANDOMNESS #1 - A Little Chicago Story (Part Deux) - Last week, I ended Part One of the tale of my First Solo Cab Ride Ever with an in-depth description of my cab driver, Efron (or Effie to his friends). I'll post a little bit of last week's post before finishing the story today...

When Effie and I arrived at the Zoo, instead of just taking my money and saying good-bye, he drove me to the exact spot where I should stand when hailing my "getting back" cab. He then got out of the cab, and showed me by example how to get the cab driver's attention. We then talked a few minutes about the chances of him being available to pick me up two to three hours later. I didn't understand everything, but I think his shift was coming to an end, and two to three hours down the road he would be taking care of family stuff.

I totally got that, by the way.

Family first...

Alabama tourists second...

Or maybe even third or fourth.

As I watched him drive away, I felt the tiniest bit of uneasiness, but it was a beautiful day, the Zoo was free and I was surrounded by my favorite type of people...

Young families.

I leisurely walked not once, but twice, around the entire Zoo, and it took me almost exactly three hours.

It was only 2:00 p.m., so I didn't have to worry about it getting dark or getting caught in work traffic. I only had to be concerned with hailing the dreaded "getting back" cab.

I walked to the exact place Effie had let me out earlier that very day. It was on a smaller street parallel to the "main" street of thru traffic. Between the two streets was a large grassy area. A park, if you will.

Effie had told me cabs went up and down the smaller street often, and I would not have to wait long before one pulled up and offered me a ride.

Effie was wrong...

And I was soon getting a little antsy.

I started to watch the busy "main" street. Cabs were flying to and fro on that street. They were literally everywhere. I made the decision to walk across the park to the "main" street, and as I walked, I felt more and more confident I would be able to stop one of the MANY cabs.

Closer and closer I walked until I was almost ready to cross the street to start actively "hailing." (I apologize for not being more familiar with cab-hailing verbiage.) That is when I spotted the yellow cab parked in front of one of the buildings.

By the time I had crossed the street and walked two blocks toward the yellow cab, I had decided it wasn't picking anyone up from the building, and if it WAS waiting for someone specific, all the driver had to do was tell me. I would happily keep moving. (I'm amicable like that, you know.)

I stopped two car lengths from the parked cab, raised my right arm and waved not too briskly, but still with some authority.

Nothing. I noticed the cab driver was looking down.

Because I am such a positive-type person, my first thought was I had picked a cab wherein the cab driver had died. I kid you not. I actually thought that.

However, as I was having that thought and watching for any signs of life, his arm moved a little.

Okay. So he wasn't a dead cab driver, but he didn't look particularly healthy at that moment either.

I walked a little closer to the cab (only one car length away), raised my right arm and waved again...

Much too briskly. Much too wildly. No authority whatsoever.

Again, nothing.

This was not going as planned. If you've known me five minutes, you know I was not handling it very well.

That's when I noticed the window was down on the passenger side of his car. I decided to throw all of my cab-hailing training out the window and do the unthinkable. I was going to just talk to him.

Of course, looking back, I may or may not have talked too loudly, because he definitely jumped when I looked into the window and inquired/yelled, "CAN I HAVE A RIDE BACK TO MY HOTEL, PLEASE?"

"WHAT?" he answered/yelled right back.

"Are you a cab driver? Is this a cab?" Again, I was not at my best.

"Uh, yes."

It was obvious he and I were from different parts of the world, and I am not talking about Alabama and Illinois. I mean we were continents apart. His accent was almost as thick as mine, and I knew he was going to have as much trouble understanding me as I was understanding him. But his eyes were kind, and when he nodded in agreement, I climbed into the backseat where I noticed he was in the middle of peeling an orange and setting up a small lunch.

"I am so sorry. You were taking your lunch break. I will find another cab. I didn't know you were busy." I was talking fast, so I'm pretty sure he caught none of what I had said, but he did understand I was getting out of the cab.

"No, no, no, no, no," he said. "I take you."

I gave him the name of my hotel not once, but many, many times, and when we BOTH felt sure we had BOTH said it correctly, he pulled out into traffic.

I had no way of knowing if he was going in the right direction. Chicago is pretty confusing for a first-time visitor. The only way I had of gauging if we were on the same page was the amount of time it would take to get back to the hotel. I knew Effie pulled up at the Zoo exactly 12 minutes after picking me up, so I watched the clock and around the seven and eight-minute mark, I started looking around for something familiar, but to no avail.

"Oh, well," I thought. "I'll give him until he hits the 15-minute mark, and then I'll ask to get out. I'll just have to grab another cab and try again."

That's when the cab stopped and he turned around and grinned at me. I looked out my window and saw my hotel AND my doorman! Hallelujah!

And the clock? Well, he dropped me off at my hotel in only NINE MINUTES!

I thought he was absolutely amazing, and I smiled BIG and paid him and tipped him while my doorman opened my door.

Before he drove off, I leaned down and said, "I like oranges, too. Thank you and have a wonderful day!"

He smiled, nodded and drove away in a sea of taxi cabs, and I said a little prayer thanking the good Lord for Effie AND my orange-lovin' driver.

I felt very confident, worldly and sophisticated.

So much so, I am planning on getting an Uber app the next time Mike and I travel somewhere Uber-ish and trying that solo, too.

Or maybe not.

RANDOMNESS #2 - MotherWalk 2018 - We participated in our second MotherWalk without Mother. This year, Team Tootsie was 17 strong, and while we added a few new faces, only one of the "regulars" was missing. Josh had to work, but he was definitely with us in spirit.

I just wanted Josh to be represented. MotherWalk 2017!

Austin, Melia and RT decided at the last minute to run the 5K instead of participating in the Fun Run.

They may or may not have regretted their decision 38 minutes, 33 seconds later.

I'll let you guess which one.

It's easy to spot the professionals. Sawyer will be two in July, and this is his second MotherWalk.

Roxie, Nellie, Courtney, Sawyer and Judith.

Courtney brought Sweet Nellie to her first MotherWalk. The more babies, the better!

Sawyer and Beebo enjoyed seeing Big Al. (There are always local celebrities at the MotherWalk.)

RT did the 5K AND the Fun Run.

He gets his athleticism from his Nana, I think.

I love these next four pics. Melia was the designated baby grabber. As you can see, the only person moving in the first three photos was Melia...

And in this one, Sawyer decided he had had enough picture-takin' fun for the day.

We had cupcakes with blue icing to celebrate Uncle Tommy's birthday.

It looks like RT face planted in the icing...

Again, not unlike his Nana.

Little Man beat his Daddy in checkers...

And tied with Cousin Sawyer!

RANDOMNESS #3 - Coldwater Creek - Coldwater Creek is in Munford, Alabama. Our kids played in it when they were little guys after a day with Grandma and Grandpa. The name is appropriate. It is COLD!

Over the years, a pavilion, picnic tables, etc. have been added to the little area, and on the weekends, it is pretty busy...

But never too busy or too full for a first-time wader.

Little Man enjoyed it, I think.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Cousin Play Day - Nothing fancy. Just a day on the deck with Nana and Aunt Ro...

And a water table...

And a baby pool filled with little balls...

And a side yard with plenty of kicking balls...

And a lot of applesauce, juice, chocolate milk and puffs.

Oh... RT and Judith had a good time, too.

Have a grand and glorious rest of the week/weekend. I will be back soon with more.


The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Did I mention The Chick left this past Monday for five weeks in Cape Town, South Africa?

I didn't? Well, that's pretty uncharacteristic of me, isn't it?

Honestly though...

As soon as I gain any sort of composure at all, I will tell you ALL about it!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Little Chicago Story, Zoo Day with RT, McWane Day with Grand-Tots AND Quotable Quotes

Good Saturday afternoon!

RANDOMNESS #1 - A Little Chicago Story - As I mentioned in my last post, one of my "firsts" in Chicago was riding in a cab.

I bet I know what you're thinking. "That's a pretty pathetic little 'first,'" but wait...

There's more!

In order for it to be a blog-worthy "first," I decided to add a little sumpin'-sumpin' to the initial ride.

Not only would I enjoy my first ever cab ride, BUT I would also successfully HAIL a cab sometime during our stay in the city.

Once we arrived at our hotel, I paused a few moments before going inside to watch the doormen hail the cab. They were very good. They took a large step out onto the busy street, raised a hand and tooted on a very loud whistle several times in short, swift bursts.

I hesitated asking one of them the obvious question...

"Where do I get a cab-hailing whistle?" To be honest, I was more than a little intimidated by it all. Hard to believe, but true!

None of the television shows or movies I had seen where cabs were hailed had included the whistle when ordinary folk, such as myself, were doing the hailing.

Would I be able to just use the step-off-the-curb-into-oncoming-traffic-raise-your-left-hand-high-in-the-air method AND stop a cab without the aid of the whistle?

I just didn't know if it would be enough, and for the first time since Mike and I had left Birmingham earlier in the day, I felt uncertain, and...

Dare I say it?

A little anxious.

I shook off the negative vibes, and moved on into the hotel. I had two more days before my solo excursion to Lincoln Park Zoo. That was plenty of time to observe AND practice.

And when I say "practice," I mean stand in front of the full-length mirror attached to the closet door in our room taking large steps while simultaneously throwing my hand into the air...

Like I just didn't care!

When Tuesday morning arrived, I was as prepared as I could be to have never actually stepped off a curb in front of a moving cab.

It was go time.

As I walked through the lobby, I decided to let the doorman hail the cab GOING to the Zoo for me. I mean, it's his job and observing the procedure ONE MORE TIME wouldn't hurt, would it?

Also, I planned on asking him for the use of his whistle for the day, but I chickened out when he spotted me coming, jumped out into the street, hailed a cab, opened a door and put me in the backseat before I could even say, "Good morning. That's a sharp looking whistle you've got there, Fella!"

Please note, in no way, shape or form did SPEED OF HALING A CAB enter into this particular first. As far as I was concerned, it could take 30 seconds or 30 minutes. I wasn't going to put that kind of pressure on myself. (I rarely do.)

I lucked out, and my cab driver was a wonderful African man named Efron, but he told me I could call him "Effie" for short. I don't know about you, but when you meet someone and they share their nickname almost immediately, it is a friendship connection of sorts. Well, that's what I like to tell myself on the rare occasions it actually happens.

Our conversation went something like this...

"Where in Africa did you live?"

"You haven't heard of it, I am sure." He then proceeded to tell me the name of his homeland four times. He was correct. I had no idea.

"Okay. I do not know where that particular country, city, village is, but can you tell me a major city located nearby?" I wasn't going to give up so easily when it came to bonding with Effie. I had a favor to ask of him before we parted ways for the day.

He caught my eyes in the mirror, and I could tell he was trying to think of a place I would recognize near his home. All at once, he grinned and nodded. "The Indian Ocean!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, yes. I have heard of it! What a lovely place to live!"

Our relationship was quickly growing into a long-term friendship.

Maybe, dare I dream, of a pen pal nature!

I spent the rest of the 12-minute trip asking for advice on getting BACK to the hotel. (Effie agreed with me that "getting back" was really the most important part.)

When we arrived at the Zoo, instead of just taking my money and saying good-bye, he drove me to the exact spot where I should stand when hailing my "getting back" cab. He then got out of the cab, and showed me by example how to get the cab driver's attention. We then talked a few minutes about the chances of him being available to pick me up in two to three hours. I didn't understand everything, but I think his shift was coming to an end, and two to three hours down the road he would be taking care of family stuff.

I totally got that, by the way.

Family first...

Alabama tourists second...

Or maybe even third or fourth.

YOU KNOW WHAT? - If I am ever going to get this posted, I'm going to have to finish the story in a couple of days. Believe me, it isn't worth a two-parter, but time is of the essence. (I learned that phrase way back in my legal secretary days.)

Until my next post, ponder on these questions...

Did she successfully hail a cab from Lincoln Park Zoo to downtown Chicago?

Is she, in fact, in Alabama right this moment, or is she still trying to "get back" to the hotel?

Does she really know where the Indian Ocean is, or was she just trying to impress her new best friend?

Does she now have in her possession a cab-hailing whistle, and if so, what on earth does she plan on doing with it in The Dale?

All of these (and more) questions will be answered shortly...

Of this, I am almost certain.

DISCLAIMER - I am about to share some Grand-Tot pics and activities with you. I just want you to know that although we had a good time together, I did not photograph or record any of the following:


Escape attempts

Bad reactions to heat and high humidity

Messy diapers

And I didn't record or photograph any of the Tots having an off day either!

As with any family outing with people ranging in age from 16 months to 56 years, things were not totally "perfect." Never have been, and never will be.

But fun was had, laughter was heard and time was well spent. Those are the things I tend to record, because those are things I want to remember a few years from now when everyone has grown up, up and away.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Zoo Day with RT - Melia, Austin, Mimi (Melia's Mom), RT and I went to the Zoo for the first time in 2018 a week or so ago, and while most of Birmingham and surrounding areas went as well, a good time was had by all.

Little Man played long and hard...

And just when we thought he was down for the count, he played some more with his new "cat" friend.

It wasn't until we reached the alligators that he put his head on his Daddy's shoulder and took a little snooze.

All in all, it was a very good day at the Zoo.

RANDOMNESS #3 - McWane Day with Grand-Tots - Everyone met at McWane Center on a Sunday afternoon. The Grand-Tots had already visited, but not all of the adults had been able to check it out. Judith and RT showed everyone their favorite things to do, and we even tried a few new-to-them things before we called it a day.

Of course, the water-play area was a big hit...


Water and Tots is a magical combo, I think.

As you can imagine, the little ones loved the Bubble Play Area...

But not quite as much as the adults.

The Faulkner Men.

Be still my heart.

I loved this, and so did Judith.

It would have been nice to take it home with me to keep forever, but just like everywhere else, McWane has "rules."


Oh. And the Tots were able to pet rays and sharks.

No big deal.

Quotable Quotes - "Visit many good books, but live in the Bible." C. H. Spurgeon

I cannot think of anything better than the above quote to leave you with this Saturday.

Have a great weekend, and I will talk to you very soon!


The Enchanting Belinda

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