Mary Beth Writes

11/30/2023

Last week I mentioned that Monday of this week would be Len’s birthday. A friend remarked to me ever so kindly later that day, “I thought his birthday was the 30th?”

It is. Len’s birthday is the 30th. This same friend has commented to me, over the years, about how much I remember.

Anyways, has this week seemed more complicated than you expected? Sometimes, I think, time (Thanksgiving was unusually early this year and no one warned me), wafting magnetic poles, sun storms 93 million miles away, and still missing one’s kitties all collides and nothing is calamitous but boy it has not been smooth sailing.

So let’s celebrate Len, shall we? As of today he enters a whole new decade. We started his new decade with no coffee because when I made a half pot midafternoon yesterday, I forgot to reset the timer. Eventually we got our coffee and played Wordle and then set about having this day.

On a date back in 1980 Len mentioned that we needed to stop at a grocery store to buy coffee because he and his sister Lindy (they shared an apartment in Logan Square) were out. I asked how much they drank. He thought and then said about two pounds per week. I stopped mid-aisle. “A week???!!!”

“Yeah. Why? How much to you go through?”

“About two pounds a year.” (I mostly bought it in the school cafeteria.)

Have you noticed that coffee is getting pricier? I hope it means they are paying workers more but I bet it’s mostly shipping costs going to oil companies. Anyway, when our favorite brand goes on sale we buy several bags. Last month a store advertised it but each time we looked they didn’t have it. Without remembering to tell me, Len ordered the minimum order to get free shipping. Imagine my surprise when suddenly we had fifteen pounds of coffee beans. I had to rearrange the kitchen to get it to fit.

As Len said to me early on, “Without coffee all would be darkness and chaos.”

..

His first job in advertising was writing for Spiegel’s catalog. He wrote copy for carpeting and CB radios. In case you were shopping for those items in the middle 70’s.

I asked him when he felt proud of his career. There were a lot of good moments in his 40 years in advertising and marketing and yes, he won awards for junk mail!

What he recalls though is walking out of a client’s office in downtown Chicago. The client was happy and paying well and he felt as if he belonged to the business community of the city and it felt really good.

His family always had cats. One of their cats was a big-shouldered swaggering blond guy named Tawny. I’ve always known that Tawny was Len’s cat so just now I asked him how he knew that particular cat was his. “He told me.” 

His last year of high school Len and two of his fellow nerds took a Saturday morning astronomy class at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. It was an hour drive from their town into the city, one wonders that three goofy kids did that on their own. Anyways, let me first explain that northern lights happened when charged particles shoot out from solar storms towards the earth and are attracted by magnetic bands at the north and south poles. These bands were discovered in the late 1950’s by James Van Allen and those arcs are called the Van Allen belts. Van Allen was one of the teachers of the class Len took. I suppose one has to be a special kind of geek to think this is super cool, but many of us here are just that kind of nerdy.

“Blackened fish” was brought to us via New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhome around 1987. That New Year’s Eve Len and I played hard with our little kids and wore them out and put them to bed. Now it was time for the adults to have a fabulous meal; Len was going to blacken some pricey fish we’d bought. At about 10:30PM the fish fillets finally hit the super-hot cast iron skillet - and immediately commenced burning with flames a couple feet high and smoke billowing everywhere. Every smoke detector in our house went off. The kids woke up crying, the dog howled, the cat ran past. Len pulled the skillet off the stove and put out the fire. I ran upstairs to comfort the kids. We opened every window and door in our little house, freezing winter winds blew through, smoke billowed out our doors. Our neighbors asked if we were okay.

Len has blackened fish and meat since then but only outside on the grill with the hose nearby. Blackened fish tastes great.

Last goofy thing. As I’ve mentioned before, in my 20’s I worked at a branch office of Uptown Federal S&L. Our office was on Walton, a few building west of Michigan Avenue. Chicago’s Drake Hotel was on east Walton, just the other side of Michigan Ave. Prince Charles visited Chicago in 1977 and of course, stayed at the Drake. I saw the crowds out our windows at work and at a break wandered over to gawk.

Many years later Len was talking to someone about the time he was on Michigan Avenue and there was a big crowd and someone told him it was Prince Charles so he stood around to gawk.

We met two years later.

 

Comments

I clearly recall the many Make A Difference Day meetings where Len (and you) provided ideas and creativity. Also lots of humor. Happy Birthday, Len!
Mary Beth's picture

Yes, you took us places!

Happy Birthday, Len! Very happy to know you!

Yes, that's how you're supposed to blacken fish, screaming and everything. Nice photos. Last one he looks like Max.

Thanks for the laugh with the blackened fish smoke.

Between me forgetting how old my son was turning on the 27th and you thinking the 27th was the 30th, I'm happy we both finally figured things out! It must be the solar flares...or whatever...because it can't be my age (64). Just sayin'.
Mary Beth's picture

Laughing...

Happy Birthday Leonard :) So this is a new decade hey? You got this! Love the Leonard stories, and I think it is especially appropriate that the Northern Lights are predicted to be visible here tonight......hope they are there too! I'm actually heading out in a few minutes to try to see them, we do have clear skies! Cheers to both of you!
Mary Beth's picture

We are scanning the northern skies tonight, too!

A very happy birthday to one of the most brilliant and insightful persons that I have met in my 70 years of life. An inspiration to me. Taught me how to think with impartiality.

Happy birthday to Len! After coffee and wordle, I hope he enjoyed a relaxing day of doing whatever he wanted!
Mary Beth's picture

Actually, the morning was spent at Froedtert hospital because his sister was having a necessary though non-urgent surgery. She's okay, we are all good, but it was an askew way to begin his big day. While waiting around, she and Len and i talked about food and she said we had to go to a fancy butcher shop after we left her, so we did. Lambergs talk about great food a lot. I learned this early and I'm in this game, too, now.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

The Lies We Live By

2/20/2024

Aristotle wrote a lot of important stuff, very little of which I’ve read. But this Aristotelian idea is cool and I don’t know why we are not taught this in high school. It helps untangle the importance of what we read and watch.

Fat Tuesday & Valentines Day & Ash Wednesday (says it all)

2/9/2024

I think today has to be a Three Things. You probably don’t even know I have Three Things scaffolding in my secret writing toolbox of organizational tools, but I do. Sometimes it’s how thoughts present themselves, you know? Things to say, but not for too long.

(Now that I've finished and read what I wrote, I guess this is five things but some days, in our expanding universe, the math just works this way,)

Successful & Failed Artists

 2/7/2024

Last week I finished reading Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard. (I discovered this book via Librarian of Burgos Instagram because I am her fangirl now.)

If you like to read a book that has a recognizable plot of sympathetic characters moving forward through a problem to a solution– you will likely not enjoy this novel. Heck, I’m not sure if I ‘enjoyed’ it.

Animals of Winter

1/25/2024

Last week I invited you to submit pictures of animals who are visiting your life these days.

The Republic of False Truths

1/19/2024

I set a goal for this year to read one translated modern novel every month. I’ve been following ‘Librarian of Burgos’ on Instagram and this woman keeps hyping and explaining books I’ve never heard of, which intrigues me mightily. I think she might be a reader’s reader. Anyways, she is European, has transcendently luminous skin plus several master’s degrees and a doctorate in history. Sometimes she even recommends books that are not, sadly she says, not yet translated into English. Cracks me up.

Who's In Your Backyard?

1/19/2024

It’s been a wowser of a wintery week. We had the deep and blowing snow last Friday which turned into the heavy-as-concrete snow on Saturday which turned into a deep and frozen crust on Sunday - and here we still are. Last week’s snow still limns the trees and branches. A foot of snow still covers every roof. When I walk (why yes, I’m still going out for strolls) it’s a matter of life and limb navigating the jagged piles between sidewalk and street. I do use my “Alpine” walking stick these days.

Change is coming but not today.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska animals anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books Boxing Day boy scout Bread breakfast BreakfastClub BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote crime CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering deer democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep distraction dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola Grief groceries Guadalupe Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len lies Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples pizza poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites sci-fi ScottSimon sculpture Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet St. Louis staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress SUBSTACK Survival swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone Zebra
Ad Promotion