Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Common Sense

There have just been all kinds of crazy things popping up on my commute lately. One phenomenon was mentioned in a few articles in the Tribune yesterday - namely people who walk and text at the same time. You can read one of those articles here .

Then you have the cell phone talkers; people jabbering on their cell phones - they kind of behave just like they do when they are driving and talking - they slow down when they are walking, don't pay attention to what's going on around them, etc. I can't imagine how much of what they say is heard and vice versa (if you have ever walked under the el when a train was going by you know what I mean).

Then I started to notice people reading. Books. While they were walking through the Loop on their way to work. How the heck do you read a novel and walk through rush hour traffic in a busy city like Chicago? Obviously there is a safety issue - believe me the streets (and sidewalks) of Chicago are not in pristine condition; there are cracks, holes, construction cones, spit blobs (or worse) that I tend to want to notice well in advance so I can walk around them.

Then from a practical standpoint - just how enjoyable is reading while you are walking? Generally when I am reading a novel (versus say a business report, or trying to quickly absorb something for a meeting) I am reading for pleasure. I want to be in a relaxing atmosphere, maybe have my feet up and something to drink. I do not want to try and negotiate the city streets with one eye while trying to read the latest John Grisham book. How much fun is that?

So, texting, talking, reading all while walking through the City of Chicago. You have to wonder... which leads me to part II of this post. I think it dovetails nicely, don't you? (thanks to my Dad who faithfully forwards me all of those internet chain mails he gets, bless his heart)

Obituary for Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain.
Why the early bird gets the worm.
Life isn't always fair.
Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies: don't spend more than you can earn and reliable strategies: adults not children are in charge.

His health began to deteriorate when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Tylenol, sunscreen lotion or a band-aid to a student but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when it became punishable for you to defend yourself from a burglar in your own home but the burglar could sue you for assault.

He began to lose ground rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled it in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement by a jury of her peers.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents Truth and Trust; his wife Discretion; his Daughter Responsibility; and his son Reason.

He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hershey Store Robbery

If I was going to rob a store, this is probably what I would do. Forget about the cash, give me the chocolate!

Seriously though, this happened right on Michigan Avenue which is a tourist mecca and generally busy, even later at night. Guess someone really needed their sugar and decided to risk it. Maybe they didn't know the Ghiradelli store is only a few blocks north of the Hershey store?? But you know what, I prefer Hershey's too. You can't go wrong with a classic Hershey bar. Or two. Or three...

You can read the story from The Chicago Tribune right here.

(Minor) Celebrity Sighting

I've worked in Chicago for 10 years or so; in that time I have bumped into several celebrities.

Last year I saw Matthew Modine walking in the Loop - he really blended in and looked just like a tourist with his camera around his neck. The next day I read in the paper he was in town for a play he was in. Then there was Jerry Springer and Chris Farley (they each lived in the residential side of the building I worked in), Stedman Graham (got to stand right next to him in the elevator for 5 floors). Various athletes too - Frank Thomas (had an office in the same building I worked in), Phil Jackson (he practically filled up the entire revolving door at Water Tower Place), Toni Kukoc(at Bob Chinn's Crabhouse), Bill Cartwright (riding his bike down my street).

For those of you who know Chicago the names Harry Caray, Steve Stone and The Cubs are familiar to you, you know their relationship to each other and their level of Chicago "celebrity".
Before Harry Caray died a several years ago he opened a restaurant called Harry Caray's; of course it is a Cubs themed restaurant and bar and it also has pretty good food too. I go there every so often for lunch and for speed's sake we usually sit in the bar area so we can get our food quickly and get back to work.

Yesterday a friend and I were sitting at a table in the bar and in walks Steve Stone (on his cell phone, of course). He went straight to the back of the bar area and sat down (this happened to be at the table immediately behind my friend and I). I noticed him walk in but didn't really think much of it other than "he sure is short!". I also had my back to him once he sat down so it was easy not to look. However, the tourist family sitting in front of me were very excited to see a Chicago celebrity and the woman (also sitting with her back to Steve Stone) kept twisting her head to look behind her and see what SS was doing, or perhaps who he was meeting for lunch. She did this repeatedly - probably 10 times in the period of 20 minutes; each time she craned her neck around she had to look at me first, since I was in front of SS. After the first two times I have to tell you it became really annoying and I wanted to say "could you just sit forward and please eat your lunch!".

So, while I'm no celebrity I was unexpectedly able to experience what it's like when someone is gawking at you while you are just trying to quietly eat your lunch. Worse yet, this was just one nosey woman - imagine what it's like when there is a hoard of people or if you are an A-list celebrity, it really must be a nightmare.

In the past I never approached these people or acknowledged them anyways - mostly because 1) I like to give them their privacy, 2) I don't want to make their heads any bigger than they already may be and 3) I guess I like to have a little dignity and somehow gushing over them or asking for an autograph just seems silly. However, now that I have had a taste of what it feels like to be in their shoes I'll be sure to continue to pretend I don't notice them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kool Aid Dyeing

My daughter and I have been having a fun time with Kool Aid lately and NO we are not drinking it (in fact when we went to the store to buy some for this project she asked me "Mommy, what is Kool Aid??" and I realized her pristine little child's body has never ingested the likes of it before. And I felt good about that - the longer I can keep the inevitable junk out of her body the better!

All you need is some Kool Aid, a heat source (microwave will do) a glass bowl, plenty of newspaper and plastic wrap and some yarn or a garment you want to dye that is made of at least 50% wool. For all the details on this fun project check out my knitting blog here

Monday, July 21, 2008

Competitive Streak

I cannot turn down a challenge - a mental challenge that is. I love board games, especially Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble. Those games they do at baby showers - oh boy, let me at 'em (it's rather embarassing, this competitve streak I have). So, when the Starbucks and Yarn Swap I am participating in on Ravelry posted a Scavenger Hunt - well, I was ALL OVER IT. We are supposed to post our answers in our blogs, so here they are. They won't make any sense to anyone not in the swap - sorry!

Within Your Blend:

1. What U.S. state has the most folks in your Blend: Three way tie between MN/FL/CA
2. What is the most popular Ravatar choice: Raveler's own picture (or with spouse incl)
3. Someone with over 100 posts: Anniebananie (604 posts)
4. Longest term Raveler: Woollywizard since 5/27/07
5. Newest Raveler: BellaAnna 6/29/08
6. Anniebananie is a sock knitter
7. Grannysheep is a spinner
8. Two people with the same favorite drink: Grannysheep and Rdodo enjoy their lattes
9. Find two bloggers: Kathie77 and Knitknot
10. Find two non-bloggers: Wannabemuse and BellaAnna

Outside Your Blend:

1. Two people who dye yarn: Setembrina, Shelbyknits, Snowmoon4, Crazy4knitting
2. Two people with the same favorite color: Knit1kids2, Karidyan, Chloecat262 all love purple
3. Two people with the same favorite fragrance: Lavender for Mspalmtree, Sscerrato and Sheepishone
4. Two people with the same favorite yarn: Miami99 and Mspalmtree love alpaca
5. Someone with more than four kids: Kelly41momof5 (5 kids), Bartons15 (13 kids)
6. Three people who live outside the U.S. Sibylle (Germany), Lynnsanjac (UK), Knittingbunnymum (Canada)
7. Someone with an unusual pet: Mikelswool - 16 sheep
8. Someone with at least three pets: Kelly41momof5, Mikelswool
9. Two people with birthdays in the same week: Happylady (Feb 19), Juliebie (Fed 21)
10. Two people with the same favorite curse word: Jebns, Marian, Sheepishone, Cabingirl and Shelbyknits all favor the "eff" word.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rough Weekend

I'm tired.

This was one of those weekends filled with runny noses, teething, a lot of whining and gnashing of teeth (both kids and parents). It was brutally hot and humid so most of the weekend was indoors. I'm getting sick myself and I'm not ready for work tomorrow.

The good news is that as I was going through my pictures from this weekend I found a few that I especially liked.

I love my little guy's smile - it conveys such a sense of complete happiness, doesn't it?

My girl doing a mad dash down the sidewalk - she just felt like running after dinner, so she did. Up and down the sidewalk out front, simple as that. Love those orange shoes, don't 'cha?

One thing about digital cameras that I love so much is I am so much more quick to take pictures of anything that grabs my interest - after all, I can just click "erase" if I don't like it - and in doing so I think I have captured some neat shots that I normally (back in the day of the film camera) would not have taken. Like old big foot eating an ice cream cone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Surprise Assault

Below is a letter to the editor I wrote to the Chicago Tribune earlier this week. It was posted in their "Online Exclusives" where other people can input thoughts and comments.


I was assaulted on my way to the train Monday evening.

It happened as I turned from Wacker to Madison, heading toward Union Station. I missed the first attack - I was too busy talking - but the second one hit me squarely in the gut.

It took me a minute to figure out what it was - and suddenly, with horror, I realized I was looking at a poster-sized photo of a baby that had been dismembered - I'm assuming this was the aftermath of a partial birth abortion, as the image I saw was of an infant's head missing its jaw and its body, tissue hanging from the base of its head.The people committing this assault on me where holding these posters followed by a religious message which I hardly noticed since by the third poster I was sick to my stomach and on the verge of tears.

This is not the first time I have been subjected to this on my way to the train after work. Why is this okay? What if my child had been walking with me? It's summertime, after all, and some people bring their kids to their office as a treat. How are these horrifying, graphic images any different than someone standing there with poster-sized pornographic photos? Why are these people allowed to forcibly subject the unsuspecting public to this? I had a lump in my throat the rest of the evening. This assault and the group of people that inflicted it upon me is not something I will soon forget nor forgive.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lilies - Bang For Your Gardening Buck

If you want to get a lot of bang for your gardening dollar try planting lilies. This plant is just one bulb and look how many beautiful flowers are on it.

This is my front garden - these bright, colorful lilies make me feel so happy when I drive up to my house. The pop of color is really eye-catching. I think the bulbs multiply over time and every season it does seem like I have more.

This is a grouping of white lilies (not the same plant as the first picture). The prior owner of my house had planted them and overtime they became buried under the foliage of a monster hydrangea. A few summers ago I happened to notice them stuggling behind the hydrangea so I moved them and they are absolutely thriving now. They remind me of a bridal bouquet - pure white, full and just lovely.

If you have some space in your garden that needs a little dressing up give lilies a try!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


"The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous, and enduring, and thus more intelligent, even competitive.”

—Paul Hawken

I really like this quote - it reminds me (encourages me!) why Hubby and I try to live the way we do. We bought (by today's standards) a small house, we try and live below our means (and resist the urge to "keep up with the Joneses"), so other than a mortgage we carry no debt. We recycle, Freecycle, compost and try to generally live in a way that is kind to the earth. We still have a ways to go, but we keep trying to get better.

The "less is more concept" applies mostly to our material possessions. When we lived in the house before this one - I called it Hubby's "bachelor pad" - it had two bedrooms, one bathroom, a teeny kitchen, living room and no basement - a total of 940 square feet. It was tiny! But it was cozy too and except for the limited closet space we liked living there. It was cost effective to heat and cool, not too bad to clean and maintain either - less square footage means less space to clean.
When we were looking for our current house (and I was pregnant) we kicked around the idea of staying put - after all, the family that originally lived in the house (in the 1950s) raised two children there. I don't know where they put all their "stuff" but then maybe they didn't have a lot of "stuff" to store - what a concept!

The people that sold us our current house moved to a home that they built; it is roughly three times the size of the one they sold to us. They only have one more child then we do and I often wonder how the heck they have filled all that space; lots and lots of stuff to be sure. Incidentally they tore down a house across the street to build this mansion and they are now our neighbors - sometimes it feels like we have their hand-me-down house. But when property taxes are due, I'm especially glad to be in the littler house.

I look at this way of living as a challenge - doing more with less; less space, less stuff, less waste and (hopefully) less expenses. Hubby and I were (are) intrigued with a concept that Sarah Susanka writes about in her book "Not So Big House Blueprint" . We hope that the popularity of her line of "Not So Big" books means that more and more people will come to embrace this way of living.

Now if only could get my brain wrapped around the idea of applying "less is more" to my chocolate consumption, but that's another post.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Not a Plastic Bag

I just knit this Market Bag from hemp - my first experience with yarn made from hemp. I read up a little on it and found it is a fantastic renewable resource. "It needs no pesticides or herbicides when it is being grown because it is unpalatable to insects and grows too fast for any weeds to compete. It can grow in just about any climate or soil condition which makes it great to re-claim otherwise unuseable land. It also offers a sustainable fuel for the future"

They are also make clothing from hemp - "it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, it can be washed and dried with out degradation to the fiber and actually becomes softer the more it is washed. It also naturally repels up to 90% of UV rays!"

(source: Lanaknits)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

This morning my daughter decided she wanted to wear her princess costume (no, I did NOT buy her that costume!!) and then go ride her bike. She looked adorable, especially with her cool sunglasses on, but she would not cooperate for a picture (go figure!) so this is the best one I got. What a character she is!

Both sets of grandparents came over and we headed to the parade. I love being able to walk to these kind of events - it makes it feel so small town. My girl was all situated and was waiting patiently for the parade to start. This picture made me smile because she has her sunglasses on her head (imitating her Dad - again!) and just the way she is sitting there - like she is so much older than her 3 1/2 years.

My baby and Hubby were enjoying a marching bad; my girl was worried about getting a piece of candy unwrapped. She did like watching the parade and waving at the people, until she realized there was candy being thrown out to the crowd. Then she was in her own little world.

Afterwards we went back to the house and cooked out - I made three items that I was pretty pleased with - a Stuffed Brie which was stuffed with sauteed mushrooms, onions and dates (yum!)

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad which was fantastic! I love potato salad and this one is the perfect verion of a "traditional" potato salad. My only complaint was I didn't cut up the potatoes prior to cooking to get them uniform in size; therefore, I ended up with about 25% al dente potatoes which ain't so great in potato salad. I also think the sweet pickle relish is key!

The last item I made was Ambrosia Salad. My daughter calls it like it is and calls it Marshmallow Salad. This stuff reminds me of when I was a kid - I can sit down and eat a whole bowl of it. I particularly like this recipe because it uses sour cream and not Cool Whip (ick). I like to use the fruity mini marshmallows for the extra zing and all the color.

I am so looking forward to having two more days off - that's my kind of holiday weekend! Hope everyone had a nice Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Spread Animal Kindness Contest

Whoo hoo! Midwest Greyhound Adoption (the organization I volunteer with and also adopted both my greyhounds from) is in the finals for the "Spread Animal Kindness Contest"

You can vote for them by clicking HERE

Hurry! Voting closes on July 20 and the winner will be announced on July 31!