Friday, November 30, 2007

Fresh Picks

We just got a delivery of fruit and veggies from this great place called Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks (introduced to me by Grete). On the plan we signed up for, we get a small box of organic produce every other week gathered from local farms. It's always a treat to see what you get each time and I love the challenge of trying to use everything in a recipe (no NOT in the same one) even though some things like apples, sweet peas, carrots and even radishes don't make it to a recipe because I eat them down raw. If there is anything you hate (like brussel sprouts) just let them know and they will swap out with something yummy (like zucchini). Click the title above to read more about it. I hope fun food box companies show up in your neck of the woods too!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Great Horned Owl

I just saw an owl outside! I was out in the park with Max and I heard these loud crows flying over. I looked up and they were escorting an enormous owl, which was landing in the tree right in front of me. She looked to her left and then her right and then right down at me and took off again. The crows did too. They flew off along the lake together. I'm pretty sure that she was a great horned owl-but I can't be sure. And even though they are a common owl, I never see owls what with the whole nocturnal thing. And the living in a big crowded city. I love owls (or pictures of them) so this was really thrilling! This has definitely been the biggest reward for carrying my camera every single place I go. I can't even believe the photos turned out. My hands are still shaking. I'm totally going to become a birder.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Alley

Sometimes, just for the sense of adventure, I like to walk through the alleyways when I walk Max in the evenings. It's always a different shade of interesting than merely walking down the sidewalk. For instance, today, I saw a man smoking weed and decorating his small stoop with a big blow-up glowing Santa and a number of lights that exceeded the bounds of reason. I also walked behind an agitated woman who seemed to think I was following her. And, as I guess I was, I decided to turn around and walk the other way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Second Grade

In second grade I had an elderly nun as my teacher. She didn't like us and we didn't like her. She spit when she talked and squeezed our arms when we talked. One afternoon another child and I managed to follow her around. We stayed close enough behind her that we could see up her veil and that she couldn't see us. She didn't even seem to miss us for those couple of hours. And for this I am sure I will experience hellfire. Purgatory won' t even be part of the discussion. Me inside of the pearly gates will be a good joke series St. Peter will tell when Jesus is down about the state of the world.

When I was in Nebraska last week I found a picture of her standing up next to our first communion class. We looked like angels with our hands folded and our baby teeth smiles. She, even though her hands were also folded, was glaring sideways with a drill sergeant pucker of the lips. I'm not sure of what she was waiting for. Maybe for one of us to grow up and write about her on our blog.

It's weird. Sometimes when I'm sitting in the office trying to write or get work done I instead play with this wind-up toy nun and watch her march across my desk shooting sparks out of her mouth. But I must admit I always get back to work when I think back to my huge second grade pencil and my thick pad of lined paper that would inevitably be smacked with an old hand and splat with saliva circles when I dilly dallied.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chicago Fire

This is a photo of the fire we had in our fireplace last night. This is only the second one of the year which is quite remarkable since I'm known to start getting hankerings for hearth fires at about mid August. But this fire was especially necessary since our old steam radiator is currently shooting boiling hot water all over the place when it's on. Thus, it must remain off. Double thus, it is cold in our apartment. There is a sign up sheet in the entry way of our building to have a radiator guy come have a look. The sign says that you must sign the sheet and call him to make the appointment. I did this yesterday and the guy who answered said "Yeah, sure, when should I come?"
"How's Wednesday?"
"Fine. But call and ask again on Tuesday. Then I'll remember to come on Wednesday."

And this is, I'm afraid, how things go as far as service calls here in Chicago. Not all that long ago we had a man delivering a dishwasher who stopped after three flights of stairs and refused to ascend the last flight to our place. He was under the impression, he said, that our place was on the third floor (our address is 3B) and we are actually at the top of three flights of stairs putting us, technically, on the fourth floor. I finally talked him into finishing the journey but he did leave the old dishwasher in the middle of our small kitchen. Oh yes he did.
This is one of the big differences between Nebraska/Kansas life (where polite people come to fix the leak under your sink rather than shrug their shoulders, dumbfounded, and leave the leak under your sink). When you call for service here in Chicago, most often, it is made clear that you and your needs are inconvenient and that if someone shows up at your place (anytime between 8am and 9pm they add), they are doing you a very large favor and you are eternally indebted to them, especially if they overcharge you.

On the ride home to Chicago from Lincoln on Sunday we listened to two episodes of This American Life (I'm a total junkie and Eric managed to get me every last episode for my birthday!) One episode was about fire (and made a little mention of how we should enjoy more fires in fireplaces!) (GLITCH) and the other was largely about small town living vs. big town living (IN THE MATRIX). The latter was maybe my favorite episode yet. If you have an hour, click the title above and have a listen.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chanterelle Mushroom Ravioli

Not only did the back of the package of frozen ravioli say "Imagine yourself hungry after a long day of foraging for fresh mushrooms" but it also said "Low boil for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are pillowy."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

And we're off

The sales are fierce, the music is Christmas, the lights are florescent. I spent about 45 minutes shopping today and now I'm done with all that. I love you Amazon.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

There are many things I am thankful for but one of them is definitely these "appetizers" eaten before my mom's huge dinner and the two dessert stops with Eric's extended family.

Try this on a tooth pick: a bite of grapefruit, a piece of fennel and a Greek olive. Drizzle a little olive oil, add salt and pepper if you'd like. Eat it all at once. You will be awakened to a whole new rock and roll in your mouth. This tasty treat totally makes the pilgrim's long trip worth the ride.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Katie is my favorite and only sister. She is younger than me but she is far better at spelling and drawing. One of her favorite things to do is to type so I am going to let her introduce herself on my blog today. But first I will tell you that her five favorite things (as of today) are:
1. Veggie Tales
2. Singing
3. Listening to music
4. Having parties
5. Celebrating birthdays

And here she is in person (typing):

Hi My name is Katie and i am in love with Veggie Tales.
I am interested in Larry the cucumber and his voice in Veggie Tales.
I like to sing, Listen to music, have parties, Celebrating birthdays,be a fan,
Write Letters, Collect my pictures of Larry, and Leave messages.
We're having so many people over dinner tomorrow and I am giong to learn how to
make pie and stuffing with my sister who's just always is interested in me all the
time. oh. Woops? I'm just confusing aren't i. Now i have to watch my sissi Woops? I mean my sister and make pie and stuffing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Girl's night tonight in Lincoln, NE. It was a fabulous evening with my old pals Jillian and Meghan. We had coffee and dinner and then headed down to the Ross Film Theater where there stood, in all its glory, the Art-o-mat. It's an old cigarette machine that dispenses, yeppers, ART! And it's so cool. It really is. You stick $5 in and pull one of the knobs and out falls art. I got a a little cellophane wrapped etching of a man with a mustache, cone hat and an earring in the shape of the symbol for pi. (See more of this cool stuff at the artist's website I couldn't help myself and had to stick in another five dollars, pulled another knob and got a snap bottle cap pin with a sparkly picture of a fairy woman making a pie. This good stuff can be found at I'm really fond of it. It's retro and covered in glitter. You can't get much better than that. Meghan got a lovely shimmering abstract painting and Jillian (who made this Art-o-mat discovery) got a pair of earrings and a sculpture of...what was it? A raisin?

There are about 90 of these Art-o-mats floating around in the world. And the proceeds are split between the man with the concept, the artists and local arts organizations. If you ever run into one, hand over five dollars! It's fun AND supports the arts.

Monday, November 19, 2007


It was almost 75 degrees in Firth today. And it's a fine place to step outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. In 2002, my parents moved out to an acreage about a two miles outside of the small railroad town of Firth, NE. The actual town is about .3 miles in total area and used to be an old watering stop for the railroad. One day (in the 1800s) Mr. Frank Firth, the superintendent of the Atchison and Nebraska Railroad, was in these parts inspecting a newly and poorly constructed bridge that collapsed on top of him. He died tragically but left to this town, which would one day hold corn hole tournaments in the summer and become home to some of the best pasta sauce in the whole Midwest, his name.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Lincoln is a midsized university town and is the capitol city of Nebraska. It's where Eric and I both grew up and where we spend the holidays. It's the second most populated place in the state next to Omaha and when the football stadium is full, the stadium becomes the third largest. You will often hear locals apologizing for how the university finds itself behind the times on research facilities (they are working on a fix) and they will outright hide behind a rock if you ask them about the football team. But it's a good place Lincoln is. You can find quality community theater, great coffee and nice, hardworking people. Also in Lincoln we have houses, people with curly hair, tomatoes and most people have can openers. Okay. This is hard. But I still love Lincoln.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Drive

The Drive from Chicago, Illinois to Lincoln, Nebraska is a long one. It looks a lot like this the whole time.

Friday, November 16, 2007


We're taking a screenwriting class as a way to avoid cabin fever as the cold air settles into Chicagoland. If you're asking yourself "Is that a photo of her folder from class?" You can go ahead and tell yourself yes! Inside that folder is some really good info. The class is really fun and informative, actually. So far I've learned that a movie is 1) a story of a group of people that explores a theme, 2) A collection of scenes that are individually entertaining but when linked together create a story with a central question, and 3) A mechanism to right an imbalance in some (often fictional) person's world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Most of you already know him pretty well, but I couldn't go an entire year with out a little blurb about my prom date. I'll spare you mushiness and keep it short. But I must say that after five years of being married to a man who (erroneously) thinks that his opinion of music is the end all, I still think of him as my all time favorite person. Some of the strongest evidence I have for my claim that he outflanks most people is that he's scary smart, like genius material, and (there are two parts to this) he sticks with me. This is huge folks. I would venture to guess that this would be difficult for a person with unusual mental ability since I tend to live sort of like a monkey. I usually leave all of the kitchen cupboards wide open. I keep none of my shoes in my closet but instead on every square inch of our apartment floor (and sometimes furniture). He's constantly needing to ask me things like "Is this half of a blueberry muffin that I just found in my sock drawer... yours?" Oh and I really like to dance in the car (no-not when I'm driving, when he's driving). He remains nice and friendly during all of this which has to mean that he's much nicer than me, because I wouldn't be able to stand any of that stuff. Also, I make him do things like tell me his five favorite things for my blog. And here they are in no certain order:

1. Diet Pepsi
2. The Wonder Years
3. radio airchecks
4. oldies music
5. living in the past (not necessarily his past, he says, just the past)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

City Limits

So if you walk out of the front door of our building and head north along the lake, past the cemetery, five or six city blocks or so, this is the first thing you see as you enter the city of Evanston, IL. Normally I take Max walking through Rogers Park here on the Chicago side but sometimes I'm in the mood for beautiful white sand beaches, huge old houses with yards, Starbucks coffee and North Face fleece. It's actually astonishing how noticeably things change when you walk over the city limits, at least along the lake. Our beaches in Chicago are a bit rocky and run down but anyone can come to the beach in Chicago and I like that, you have to pay in Evanston. And don't get me wrong, I like the feeling you get from hundreds of people stacked together in apartments, all the people you meet. And I much prefer the little coffee joints that don't always have normal hours but always have charm. All I'm saying is that sometimes you need a change or a little break from the noise and so you walk north.

The other day in Evanston, I walked past an elementary school where they had the morning announcements over a speaker not only in the school but out through the neighborhood. You could hear tiny voices saying " nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" and then Ms. Williams congratulated the 3rd grade for their high math scores, and announced that there would be pizza and carrot sticks for lunch. It sure was cute. This was all before I watched a friendly police officer (certainly one exists, but I have yet to meet one of those in Chicago) stop traffic so that a mother and her two kids in their car could safely exit an alley onto the main road. And then he walked over to play with Max and talk to him, in a voice you only use with a dog, about becoming a police dog. Of course this is Evanston, home of the ice cream sunday and the "Happy Birthday" song. Believe it.

Still most of the time, I prefer my walks in Chicago, where "rough-around-the-edges" means never dull. And where, today, a garbage man leaped out of his truck with arms outstretched and a huge smile on his face and said "Well, what do we have here?"

"Female, married, age 29 of English and Irish descent."

"No...I meant-"

"Oh, Max. He's a lab/poodle mix. A mutt really."

And even though he probably didn't want to talk to me anymore, he kindly took the time to discuss the differences between poodles and labs. Both good, both smart, but poodles are particularly fast learners and are loyal if not a little high-hat. Labs, on the other hand, tend to be hyper and have gas but shower people with affection.

The man pointed out that I was probably glad to have a mix of both.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marina City

Marina City is one of my favorite buildings in the city mostly because it's some kind of child's dream building, something sort of imagined for fun, nothing you really believe would get built. But in 1959 architect Bertrand Goldberg drew up the corn-on-the-cob shaped twin buildings and they were finished in 1963. Another reason I love this structure is that when they decided to build it on the Chicago River at State Street, there was already a railroad running right there so they weren't allowed to buy the land but managed (as only Chicagoans could) to buy the air above that land. The towers were built on a raised platform cantilevered (HOVERING!) above the tracks. I don't know how this was done and I'm not going to ask. I'm really hoping to go inside this building sometime and will need to go in ignorant bliss. Thank you ever so much. And wait! Awesomeness abounds when it comes to Marina City. When it was completed,it was advertised as a a city within a city (it is both residential and commercial). Imagine: you never need to leave home to have a good time! (Though I am going to guess that getting out of your pie-piece shaped apartment might become important). It came stocked with a theater, bowling alley, grocery, parking garage, clothing stores, swimming pool, gym, ice rink, restaurants and, you guessed it, a marina. (And let's not forget-a RAILROAD). Anyhow, the hard-to-make-out photo is of the marina at the base of the building and some of the parking etc. (I'm short!) But I also include the cover of the Wilco album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which shows the tops of the towers.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chicago Bears

It's been a really gorgeous fall in Chicago, the colors have been so bright and vivid that I have to try really hard not to just post photos of leaves every day. But today I caved. I've also been trying to think about what is unique about the fall months in Chicago and I'd be remiss to not think of the Chicago Bears. (Even though I don't really follow football nor have I ever been to a game-I think you have to hold season tix to even get into one.) Here's a little bit of the fun that I do know about:

From the Chicago Bears Website today:
"Already written off by most NFL observers, quarterback Rex Grossman and the Bears stormed back to life in dramatic fashion Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Replacing injured starter Brian Griese late in the first half, Grossman tossed a 59-yard touchdown to Bernard Berrian with 3:11 remaining in the game to give the Bears a 10-6 lead en route to a stirring 17-6 comeback victory at McAfee Coliseum."

Chicago is, in general, proud of its having been the first to do many things. The Bears have certainly done their part to chalk up the list. They were the first football club in the country to practice daily, broadcast games over the radio, have a personal team band and team song, distribute a team newspaper, and film games for strategy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gift Ideas

Eric and I have agreed that it would be brilliant to use my blog to let our friends and family know what we want for Christmas. Consider these first on our list.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Crucible

We saw the play The Crucible today and it was amazing. I want to tell you more about the theater but I'm too tired. I'm nodding off as I type, but I must post an entry so that Tom has to give me $10 at the end of 365 days. I'm just going to bank on going back to the Steppenwolf again before I quit writing this blog. I'll tell you all about it then. I was, however, surprised to find a scene from the actual show we saw on youtube so here is a clip from the play. I turn it over to the actors since they win the best storytellers of the day award.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Daddy Squeeze

I've just heard that my uncle Dan will be receiving an achievement award tonight at the North East Accordion Festival in Minneapolis for "bringing nationwide attention" to the squeeze box. I must say that if it weren't for Dan, I might have always associated the accordion with Saint John's parish polka mass. Instead, I've grown up hearing Dan play Country Blues, foot stompin' Zydeco, French Cafe Music and rocking out on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Yeah-Dan has proven that a person can accomplish whatever they wish with an accordion and it's always fun to listen. Congratulations Dan! We hope you're bringing the box home for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Isn't that a weird word? Fridge-I know it's short for refrigerator (also a weird word) but say it over and over a few times and you'll soon come to realize that it's maybe the strangest word around. Fridge. Fr-idge. Frid-ge.
Okay, now for a better use of your time (and of words) I share with you this poem, which, because I like it, is clipped to my fridge. Fridge.

Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther
By A. E. Stallings

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Let me introduce you to LK. We met almost four years ago as members of the writing program at DePaul and I was sure we would be friends as soon as I knew that she liked fast food hot dogs and authentic bluegrass music. I later learned that she likes to jump up and down and shake her booty any time there is any kind of a beat in the air- she is a dancing queen. And that pretty much sealed the deal. Just a couple of years out of grad school and she's already an award winning writer who kicks my butt around and makes me write things and turn them in to her like homework assignments. Actually, it's a mutual thing (she's not as bossy as I make her sound). It's a true gift to get to talk shop with a talented writer on a regular basis. I've learned loads from Miss LK.
Oh and LK's five favorite things are:
1. Riding the train
2. Chicken enchiladas
3. Playing cards
4. Making little kids laugh
5. Dorky folk music

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Oh look..."

...there's a moustache in that footprint." I wondered right after saying that if those very words in that very order had ever been uttered in the history of all the world. This was maybe a profound moment.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Birds of the Wild

Pigeons are an integral part of the Chicago experience. Where there is Chicago there are pigeons. Here, as well as in any other big city where millions of people live and eat and throw out garbage..there are pigeons. I must say, you don't get a whole lot of nature in a big city, so I don't think I mind the pigeons the way I'm supposed to but I don't quite place them in the same "bird" category as I do finches or barn swallows. Even I join the crowds in calling these once domestic, now feral creatures, "rats with wings" and "flying ashtrays." But I appreciate them just a little. Not so much for the measly wildlife they offer but for the humorous ways in which people try to rid the city of them. Though I've never heard of even one single case of someone getting sick from a pigeon, people claim that they carry disease and germs and are a great big general nuisance (I guess they are loud at night when you are trying to sleep and they've chosen to live on your windowsill). The city of Chicago is the only city in the world that has actually banned people from having pigeons for pets and I guess that's a start but there are also so many spikes on rooftops and marquees and signs so that the birds don't have a place to sit, that you don't even read the signs, you just point and say "wow, look at all those spikes." I've even heard that Chicago is encouraging a peregrine falcon breeding program because they will feed almost solely on pigeons. Now there's a NOVA program right in the front street! And my favorite strategy of late is pigeon contraception. Actually, I think this is Los Angeles's idea-I'm not sure if they are doing it here yet, but they are mixing it into bird feeders (wait-doesn't bird food = birds?) and this drug interferes with the production of an egg. Less birds in the long run I guess. Pigeons are quite the breeders I hear. Anyhow, one of our neighbors has a big plastic scary owl on the ledge above his door to fend off pigeons and a little family of them moved right in, built a good sturdy nest and had kids anyway. Sometimes I wonder which would actually look worse, some pigeon poop (which is there anyways) or a big plastic scary owl that is kind of coming apart at the edges. The pigeons are actually very friendly with the owl. I think he makes them feel safe.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Modern Art

We went to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art today. At the moment, they have an exhibit called "Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967" which should have been loads of good times but it was really lame and the title was a little misleading since it largely involved European music form the 70s and 80s (I know SINCE 1967 but still- "Rock and Roll" wasn't quite on the nose.) Oh well, I did get to walk across a room with loads of records glued to the floor, which felt kind of weird. My favorite piece was some framed alarm clocks. Art shmart.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Hippo

Today I tried my very first Happy Hippo. (With many thanks to Erin.) They are a sort of wafer cookie filled with chocolate and white chocolate paste. The bottom is dipped in some sort of meringue and I must say that they are delectable. I'm really wishing I had about twelve more. They are sold mostly in Europe and even there they are hard to find. There is sort of a cult following of these cute little rarely available hippos and after having tried one, I understand completely. It's sort of a Homer Simpson/ribwich thing. It's pretty much all you can think about for hours. There is also a series of strange and entertainng comericals with lipsyncing hippos and distracting dogs for the famous hippo candy. Here is one for your viewing enjoyment.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The lake

Kids, this is how Lake Michigan looked this morning. It's a pretty nice sight first thing when I'm taking Max for a spin. Once I swore I could see Michigan across the way but then I looked it up and found that the lake is 118 miles or so across, so it was probably smog or my imagination or something. You CAN however see Gary, Indiana to the south from our back pier especially at night. (Gary is a bunch of industrial smoke stacks, home of the Jackson Five and sadly, not much else.) Chicago lies on the southwestern tip of the second largest of all the Great Lakes (22,400 square miles). Lake Michigan is the only one of the lakes entirely inside of the United States and is sometimes referred to as the Third Coast with 1,600 miles of coastline. The lake is 923 feet deep at its deepest point, which is really kind of scary since, technically, a person only needs like two inches of water to drown. They are actually in the middle of a lengthy project to retrieve World War II planes from the bottom of the lake. There are still hundreds down there due to heavy Naval training during the war. Anyhow, I hope you've enjoyed this educational moment and to further boost your brain, you can click on the title above and see a cartoon demonstration of how the Great Lakes were formed.(You're welcome.) What I found most interesting about the presentation is that the lakes are slowly filling themselves in and could one day be gone! (But don't hold your breath.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Point of View

Last night Eric stuck the camera inside of the jack-o-lantern that we were carving and took a picture through it's eye. He showed me the photo and said, "This is how the pumpkin sees you."