Monday, February 25, 2008

For you bookish types (a meme)

Yes, a meme. Get over it.

Here are the Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.

I reached behind me and without looking put my hand on a book. I yanked it out (don't get excited), and it was my text book from my composition class last year. "The Critical Edge: Thinking and Researching in a Virtual Society" by Emily Thiroux.

Page 123, sentences 5-8 read:

"He said that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age or under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every counrty being now ready to starve from want of work..."

Okay, you know what? That's still just the first of the four sentences. This is pretty boring. Let me try this again...

Ah, "Ham on Rye" by Bukowski. An old favorite.

"We could hear each person's name as they walked across the stage. They were making one big god-damned deal out of graduating from junior high. The band played our school song:

Oh, Mt. Justin, Oh, Mt. Justin
We will be true
Our hearts are singing wildly
All our skies are blue...

We stood in line, each of us waiting to march across the stage."

Sounds pretty boring, I know, but it's a really good book.

Tag! You're it. All of you. Get on it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ukulele Lady

I have a friend back east. She and I met when we were working a shitty job together, and she's one of the few friends kept in touch with after a move. I've known her five years and I'm reminded fairly often how glad I am that she held on to me after I left Maryland.

She's one of those friends that makes you get out and live your life, who makes you feel like a better person when you're around her. You know the type. She glows, and it makes you glow. She makes a person feel like there's more to life, whatever your life might be.

We trade text messages throughout the day, small notes that often mean nothing more than "I'm thinking of you, I miss you, I wish you were here." We play games with song titles, or word games that I can't explain. I'll think of her laugh, or consider what she might think of an outfit I'm buying, and I'll text her with our inside joke: "What's he building in there?" If I'm melancholy, it will be another inside phrase: "How does it end?"

I'm proud of her. We've had our differences, and they are sometimes big differences, and I'm proud of the woman she's become in this short time I've known her. I'm proud of the mother that she is becoming, and the grace with which she bears the crosses in her life.

We frustrate each other in small ways. I frustrate her, anyhow. I'm a stick in the mud, a fuddy duddy, and I try not to wonder why she talks to me at all. She has good friends who treat her better than I can, both in tangible gifts and sheer entertainment value. I try not to think of these things and just be grateful, but there are days when it's hard.

Like tonight. I got a call from her, and in her slightly southern accent (which tells me she's in a wonderful mood) she told me she was in Hawaii. I asked her if she was physically in Hawaii, or if it was just her imagination running west. These are the questions I have to ask her, because either could always be true. She was in Hawaii, physically, with a girlfriend who works for an airline. The friend had gotten free tickets to a wild blue heaven in the middle of a dreary and droning winter. My friend was calling because she had become aware of how little she knew about ukuleles and she wanted to send me one straight from Hawaii.

I, in my stuck-in-the mud, let's-be-rational mode that I'm sure drives her up a wall, took five pictures and a short video on my cell phone. I sent them to her, a 1.3 megapixel crash course in ukulele buying. In her infinite, wonderful patience, she refrained from heaving an exasperated sigh or laughing at my thorough descriptions. I offered to find a good uke store on her island so she wouldn't have to keep going from shop to shop.

I had given up on finding anything when she sent me this:

The one on the left will soon be in my clutches. She even had the guy working at the shop play me a tune on it. I sat in my favorite rocking chair in Chicago, listening to the dulcet sounds of a bored shop keeper playing a uke for a tourist, as he likely often does. I was thinking about how much she was doing for me, as she always does.

I can't wait to play a concert for her. Maybe a jumping flea boogie, or some old tune that warms her heart and sounds perfect on a ukulele. I want to give her back some of the joy she's given me through all these years. I hope she likes it.

I'd better start practicing.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Green Home Experts

There's a new place in Oak Park that's opening tomorrow called Green Home Experts. They have all the stuff you need for living a greener life. Their website is here, and their store is over on Oak Park Ave right by the Ale House.

The lady who runs the place is very nice (I've spoken to her a few times), and her dog is adorable. But that's not the point of the story.

The point is we all know Spring is coming, and with it Spring cleaning and Spring projects and all that fun stuff. Since I know a fair number of you are Greenies, roll over and check out the new place on Saturday between 10 and 4.

They don't just have cleaning stuff and furniture, they also have cloth bags and other environmentally friendly day-to-day stuff. Bonus: it's a local small business, so you're keeping your money in the community instead of sending it off to Arkansas for the Walton clan to add to their pile.

Extra bonus: If you go to the opening on Saturday, they're raffling off a bag of goodies.

And...they have cookies.

Friday's Feast

(Play along here.)


Have you ever played a practical joke on anyone? If so, what did you do and who was your victim?

Nothing big, just little things. I'm not good at practical jokes. I'm not a very practical person.


What do your salt and pepper shakers look like?

They look like they're cheap. They were. I used the pepper one once as a juicer for a lemon. Remeber?


Where is the next place you plan to visit (on vacation or business)?

I'm going to see Rachel in Indianaplis on March first and I'm pretty excited about it!

Main Course

What kind of lotion or cream do you use to keep your hands from getting too dry?

I usually just get whatever's in the "samples" section of the Walgreen's. You know, those little lotion, um, bottles I guess that fit in your purse. I go in October or November and grab 5 or 10 of one kind so I have enough for the whole winter (including the ones I know I'm going to lose.) This year it was some lovely smelling thing, Curel I think. It's February so I've lost them all. I do have a tube of CVS brand hand lotion with aloe. That stuff works pretty well.


Make up a dessert, tell us its ingredients, and give it a name.

Man, you know I can't cook! Umm...all I can think is Fondue. There is going to be some fondue madness on Sunday at Ed's Oscar "party," so I kind of have it on the brain.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chicago/Art Institute pics

More pics of Chicago, added to the Chicago collection:

Ironically, we were coming from the Museum of Modern Ice when we came upon this installment of frozen cubism:

IMG_4709 - Share on Ovi

They apparently have a gallery inside that's open for free when there's anything to show. I had no idea. The story they had posted of the haunted water tower was a lot more interesting than the exhibit they had on display:

IMG_4758 - Share on Ovi

We were just strolling down the street when this caught my eye. I like how the lamp lines up with the overhead light. I think it was a design gallery or something:

IMG_4719 - Share on Ovi

This looks like if Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski had a party and invited all of their friends, this would be ground zero for the ruckus that would ensue:

IMG_4717 - Share on Ovi

I coulnd't get a shot without the flag. It's Chicago, can't do anything about the wind. *shrug*

IMG_4707 - Share on Ovi

And pics from the Art Institute:

IMG_4648 - Share on Ovi

IMG_4639 - Share on Ovi

IMG_4625 - Share on Ovi

IMG_4630 - Share on Ovi

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Museum of Modern Ice

Museum of Modern Ice

Museum of Modern Ice

Museum of Modern Ice

There's a sculpture at the Millennium Park called Museum of Modern Ice I heard about it and expected it to be sculptures of people, animals, castles, etc. My neighbor and I showed up and it looked like this:

Museum of Modern Ice

And basically it looked dumb. But we figured, what the hell, take a few shots of some colored ice and go get some lunch. As we were taking our shots, we started to get kind of excited because the longer you stood and looked at it, the more there was to see. Other peoples' comments ("Look, Mama, it looks like the blue and red from the police," and "Is that supposed to be the skyline? That's a very interesting take on it.") made me see it in a different way. There were guides leading people around the exhibit, explaining little bits of it andthat helped, too.

The slabs of ice are expected and, indeed, intended to melt. As they melt, more colors and textures are shown. When one piece melts completely, it's replaced by a new block of ice. The fact that it changes color as it melts and sometimes reveals swriled textures is what really appealed to me.

I guess it didn't appeal so much to this kid who walked up and just shoved one of the blocks over. I didn't get a shot of it, but we were laughing about it all the way to Potbelly's.

More (non-ice-sculpture) pics to follow.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday's Feast

(Play along here.)


Name one thing that is unique about you.

I have had 23 jobs.


Fill in the blank: My favorite _________ is __________ but I like _________ too.

painter, Enrique Tábara, Van Gogh


What type of wood do you have for your home’s furnishings?

Whatever I can get. I think I only paid for three pieces of furniture in my apartment (the bed, futon frame, and book shelf). The rest (coffee table, rocking chair, futon pad, buffet, dining table and chairs, computer desk,bedside tables, dresser, wooden table by the front windows, chairs by the front windows, cabinet in the bathroom, toy chest (now home to my blankets and sheets), were all either gifts or stuff I salvaged or got from

Go ahead and judge me. Lord knows I've probably judged you twice today.

Main Course

Who do you talk to most often on the phone?

Eddie. Although you would have to make a distinction between "talk to" and "get harassed by."


What level of responsibility do you have in your job?

I show up and help guests make copies. I refrain from throwing things. I cuss at the computer. I wear a worn-out, tattered uniform. That is my job, and I have two and a half more Fridays here before I can burn this fucking uniform and stop caring about the pot holes on River Road.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Drops

So there's this site called where you can put in the ingredients that you have on hand and it tells you what you can make. Holy crap, what a great idea!

I was craving chocolate, but the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips said it would make 5 dozen cookies. What in the sam hell am I gonna do with 60 cookies? I suppose I could eat them (lord knows I would enjoy every morsel) but really I have no place to keep 'em, so fuck that noise, you know?

So I go to SuperCook and tell it I have some semi-sweet chocolate chips. It comes up with this recipe (from another site, actually) for "Quickest Ever No-bake Chocolate Drops."

Half a cup of chocolate, half a cup of peanut butter. Well dang, even I can do that. So I got on it.

Naturally, I left my purse at work, and with it my camera. So tonight we're going to do something a little different. Since this whole recipe is a hell of a shortcut, I'm going to shortcut the pics and use my cell phone's camera.

This should be fun...?

I took a picture of the chocolate chips in the bottom of this bowl. I forgot that you have to hit "save" if you don't want the picture deleted, so if you were looking for some lovely pic of chocolate chips you're outta luck.

You peanut butter fiends are in luck, though:

My microwave tends to blow a fuse more often if I let it run down to zero and beep. So for melting the chocolate I set it for 4 minutes and stood around watching it for about a minute and a half. I stirred it and it looked like this:

Looked pretty gross to me. I was having evil brownie flash backs.

My shoulders hunched forward and I took a quick breath, ready to throw down some noble cusses at the chocolate.

With rigid limbs and a heavy heart I scraped the peanut butter out of the half cup measure and stirred the two together. I saw the peanut butter loosen up the chocolate and I took a deep breath and relaxed, loosening up a bit myself.

Holy shit does this look awful:

I rolled my eyes. Always one more fucking thing. This stupid recipe had two damn ingredients in it - TWO! - and I'd fuckd it up somehow. This didn't look at all edible. Well, I figured I might as well finish making 'em since I started 'em and all, so I plopped them out on to a plate and took an embarrassingly poor quality picture:

This is where I realized I didn't have any wax paper. Oh well. Into the fridge they went.

And then I completely forgot about them until this morning when I opened my email and saw the pics I'd sent to myself from my phone last night.

See, after I dropped the mix onto the plate, I licked the spoon. It tasted okay and basically sated my craving for chocolate. So I was satisfied and forgot to go back to get more.

It tastes like an intense and proud Reese's cup. Maybe like a Reese's cup that was trying to overcompensate for a small...sense of self worth.

I'd probably melt the chocolate chips a bit longer, but I worry about burning them. Also, this mix would probably be fantastic on some pretzels, or with some toasted oats rolled up in 'em. Ooo! Or some Grape-Nuts! Just something to give them a bit of shape, you know?

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Enough already! GEEZ!

I know this is a fact of life in Chicago, but damn! Enough!


Maybe I'm just getting too old.

French toast

Possibly the most boring cooking post ever, even for this blog.

First an update. Remember that sun dried artichoke chicken that I hated so much? I sliced it into strips and sauteed it with the tomato/artichoke mix that was on it, and put it on some rice. That was delicious! Man oh man, if it had been that good the first time around I wouldn't have thrown away the recipe! Anyhow...

French toast, in the beginning:

I put the nutmeg in the picture there because when I was a kid, we put nutmeg in the French toast egg mix. Then I reread the recipe and it didn't call for any. I know we did, though, because we had a cat named Nutmeg and we'd joke about putting the cat in the French toast. We had a very discerning sense of humor, back in Kansas in 1982.

Side note: Nutmeg only ever had one kitten. His name was Patches and he was born in my hair. Remind me later to tell you that story.

Anyhow, I put a pinch in, mixed it up, and used some store bought bread because I didn't trust the bread I made not to crumble.

The recipe said to put some butter on the griddle/skillet and cook it up. My dad said never to do that because the butter burns, so I used Pam.

It was going pretty well. Nothing was burning, getting fucked up or anything. turned out fine. It was kind of bland. I don't have any syrup so I put some apple butter on it. Nothing interesting to report at all. But I want to take a minute to talk to you about something I hear about all the time: apple butter.

I know some of you haven't heard of apple butter, and others have heard of it but haven't tried it. I know it looks weird. I had a roommate once who threw out a brand new jar of apple butter because "it looked funny, like whatever it was it had gone bad." I know it looks like apple sauce that's gone bad, but trust me: it's delicious. Try to get it from one of those farms where you can go pick your own apples or something, or if you live near an Amish community go get it from there. It's usually better than the store-bought stuff. And you all have the good fortune to have never tried my grandma's apple butter.

That sounds bad, I know, but listen to the whole thing here. My gramma was an excellent cook. Everything she made, from her own jams and jellies to her own bread, as well as just regular dinner stuff, it was all wonderful. Every time I have any apple butter at all, I always compare it to my grandma's apple butter. None of it measures up, all apple butter everywhere is only just OK compared to my grandma's, which was fantastic. I'm going to live the rest of my life knowing that I will never have apple butter that good ever again.

But you, dear reader, can go run out to your local farm (hell, probably even your local grocery store) and find apple butter that you consider to be the best, and you can enjoy that brand for decades. And there you're lucky. You don't know what you're missing, so you're not even minutely disappointed in what you find. Sometimes, it turns out, ignorance is bliss.