Friday, December 19, 2008

cheep cheep!

Eggnog ice cream and red wine? THUMBS UP.

Pumpkin ice cream and red wine? Not great at all. Really. But, not so horrible that I have stopped eating either one of them.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Staycation 2008

Times are tough, money is tight, and my family is HERE. So instead of escaping to someplace tropical to sip pina coladas on a beach, I remained in an urban environment, snug in the comforts of home, sipping hot tea in my pajamas. That's right. I have been on staycation.

I spent most of my time at home.
Playing with my dog,
Taking baths,
Drinking tea,
Wandering around childhood places,
Spending time with family,
Goofing around,
Eating sumptuous meals,
Playing in the snow,
Wearing funny hats,
and sleeping in.

And of course, for those of you who do travel, don't forget to send me a postcard!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flowering Tea and Needle Sculpture

To make sure this day didn't blend with all the others, I started my morning with a beautiful flowering green tea:

and then watched this incredible video:

I'm amazed by some of the things people do with their lives!

In other news: Australia's Navy has been given two months off for Christmas; homeschooling is great if you're Louisa May Alcott and get lessons from Thoreau, Emerson and Hawthorne; And movie buffs are agog over the new James Bond movie - here are some do's and don'ts on the James Bond lifestyle.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I think booing is crass. Many of John McCain's supporters booed during his concession speech last Tuesday. Even though they were booing his praise of Barack Obama, it couldn't have been comfortable for him to stand there as it happened. Why would people be so mean-spirited and rude? When did this become acceptable?

Booing has a long tradition in entertainment arena. A friend of mine who does poetry readings explained to me the system of hissing, booing, and snapping that the audience uses to let a reading-poet know how he has offended them. By as long ago as the 6th century B.C., this type of audience participation was commonplace at the annual Festival of Dionysia in Athens where playwrights would compete.

A system of booing was also used in ancient Rome during gladiator games and I have read that it even helped determine whether a competitor survived or not. How grim! How aggressive! Surely we don't want to behave the same way today!

It wasn't until the 19th century that the word, "booo," came into English use. And since, it has become quite common in sports to comment on an unfair call or unsportsmanlike behavior by the other team. It is true, booing is often over-used, especially by mean-spirited kids. And that is what I think of when I hear booing such as I heard on election night. Nobody was being unfair to John McCain up there. The timing was wrong. If a supporter wanted to boo, the time was when the election results were determined. Not when John McCain was giving a speech that must have been hard enough to deliver. There was no beer and hotdog devouring on bleachers, and the offenders were not teenagers - I just can't imagine what would bring that out in a person.

But now I have gotten carried away. What I really came online to share were a couple of pictures from the rally in Grant Park on Tuesday. Most of them didn't turn out. But, I was there and I have never seen Chicago in such a state. I hope the Olympic games stay away!

In other news: Ethiopian wolves are dying out fast - as few as 500 still survive today; President Bush and President-elect Obama have their first White House meeting today while both teams hastily try to make a war-time-economic-crisis transition go smoothly; Even Rachel Wood breaks up with Marilyn Manson; And octopuses are smarter than you may think!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I’m baaaaaaack!!!

I have actually been back for weeks – forgive me.

I took a vacation. Some of you with more sorority-like hipness know it as a vacay.

Knowing my distaste for cold weather, with winter approaching, one might assume I went someplace to gather those last few rays of warmth – to bake my bones a bit in preparation for the dismal grey of Chicago’s winter season. HAH! Gotcha! Instead, I took a freezing military plane up to the northern part of Greenland (700 miles north of the Arctic Circle) where I got to experience my first snow of the season; wear a down coat, tights under my jeans and all the typical winter trimmings; and visit my husband who is stationed up there with the Air Force.

Monte and I climbed a bit of a mountain, which was a little scary not for the height, but for the loose rock that continually slipped from beneath us as we climbed.

Greenland has no squirrels. Nor any brown bunnies, centipedes or children. I did see huge arctic hares, ravens and arctic foxes. Pictured below is a brown fox. A day after I arrived it started snowing and the foxes started shedding their summer coat for a white one to keep them hidden in the snow.

The base is pretty utilitarian (ugly) with all the buildings looking like metal shacks and you would never know that building 105 is a cozy dorm and that building 2 something something (how quickly I get rid of useless information!) has a bar, the best karaoke I have ever been to, and a very nice restaurant inside. The one below might be the post office. Or maybe a dorm. Or the community center? I have no idea. Snow is not a good landmark.

When we weren’t out trying to make the most of my trip

we were indoors relaxing – reading, cooking, playing board games and rearranging furniture. For more on how interesting Greenland is, you can check out Monte’s blog. For more about Thule Air Station (where it is currently twelve degrees with a windchill of -4, and there remains only about four hours of sunlight), you can check out their official site here.

I’m back in Chicago and in the swing of things – I just turned on the heat in my apartment yesterday and can’t wait for Thanksgiving – scalloped pumpkin anyone?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Confederates in the Attic

In an attempt to bond with my husband I read the book Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. I just finished tonight and enjoyed it.

I found it to be an honest and curious look into how the Civil War has shaped the South - what real memories and consequences there were as well as what iconic ideas have been latched onto. Horwitz travels through fifteen pertinent southern states interviewing an interesting collection of people (each with their own vehement opinion) to report on relevant stories of prejudice and obsession and a certain way of life that continues to separate the North from the South to this day.

While the book made me really feel how close in history the Civil War actually occurred, it also shocked me when it led me to understand that this far-off, long-ago time of bloody heroism is still so present in so many different ways for so many people.

Next week I'm in Greenland, but for now it is all mango yogurt smoothies for me!

Enjoy the weekend! And if you'd rather not, go ahead and take the ABC News Match-O-Matic quiz to see which of the presidential nominees' politics you align with most. I came out split almost down the middle with only one more check in the Obama column.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Got a ticket for my destination

We can finally put that age-old (generation-old?) question to rest. In what part of the country do you use the term 'sneakers,' and in what part do you use the term 'tennis shoes' or 'gym shoes?'

Nah. I'm just kidding! Most of my readers are adults! We don't care about THAT! The real question is where do we use 'soda,' where do we use 'pop,' and where do we inexplicably use 'coke?'

Here is your answer:

And for those of you that are adult-enough to not be able to see this clearly, you'll be happy to know that the term 'martini' is (ab)used the same way in all parts of the country.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Accidental Purple Dinner

Someone I don't know posted a blog a while back about a food/photography experiment of eating only one color food per day. I thought of this creative consumer tonight as I sat down to my mostly purple dinner.

Beets, blue mashed potatoes and wine. Not bad! Not a lot of protein, but at least it satisfied me!

In other news: It is hurricane season (no!); As it turns out, it is NOT more stressful to be rich than it is to be poor (see article); Wooden pencils are probably better for the environment than mechanical pencils; and Lindsay Lohan has thoughts on politics.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids, Oh My!

Another vacation day in Chicago. I went to the Field Museum to see their exhibit on Mythic Creatures. This exhibit was SO COOL.

Covering the well-known creatures like dragons and unicorns to lesser known and cultural-specific creatures, the exhibit showed their origins, told their stories, and gave me a sense of where they belonged in history.

This is called a Bunyip. It is an Australian man-eating swamp monster that has since been softened into a well-known children's book creature.

Unicorns, for hundreds of years were thought to be actual animals and what I found fascinating was reading Marco Polo's description around 1300 of a unicorn he finally encountered. Having only heard descriptions, he was dismayed to find them to be stocky, lumbering, thick skinned and hairy and not at all the gentle animal that would lay its head in a maiden's lap! Natural historians believe he must have encountered a Sumatran Rhinoceros. The horns believed to belong to unicorns were often the tusks of male narwhals (Arctic whales).

Part of the exhibit was looking at fossils and seeing how easily one could imagine some of the more fantastic creatures when seeing some of the bones of less-fantastic (though just as hard to imagine) creatures laid out on display.

The picture of a Griffin, whose body frame corresponds quite nicely to fossil remains of the Protoceratops.

Below Left - the Rhinoceros skull thought by many years to have been the skull of the dragon that terrorized the town of Klagenfurt, Austria. A statue replica can still be seen in the town center.

Below Right - the skull of a dwarf elephant. The sinus cavity that leads to the trunk in the center of the skull was thought to have been where the Cyclops's eye was.

In addition to seeing many artistic depictions of mythical creatures, the exhibit had Greek coins depicting griffins from between 495 and 350 BC, Greek coins depicting a Pegasus from between 650 and 510 BC and Coins from all over Europe with pictures of dragons on them from between 600 and 1995 AD!

Seeing and reading about how all these creatures came to be believed in or used in story telling was fascinating. The only two things that disturbed me at all were the Giant Squids (there are Colossal Squids too!) and the Aepyornis, a half-ton bird that lived in Madagascar. One doesn't need to use any imagination to be enthralled by the pretty implausible constitutions of these monsters!

For a pretty complete tour of the exhibit, if you can't make it downtown before it leaves on Tuesday, click here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peanut Butter and Jelly, a Bag of Chips, and a Fruit Rollup

It is that time of year! The days are starting to get shorter, school supplies are one of the biggest commodities, and Labor Day is just around the corner! Like many of us, I am struggling to make the most of it - forcing myself to enjoy every last minute - anxious to make it last.

Calm is all nature as a resting wheel.....

Complacent fictions were they, yet the same.....

Days undefiled by luxury or sloth....

In other news: Birds in France, not having gotten the memo about climate change, aren't migrating quickly enough to satisfy their needs worry top French ornithologists; The most recent discovery of a bigfoot turned out to be another hoax - a rubber gorilla suit in ice; And a wild dolphin is apparently teaching other members of her group to walk on their tails, a behavior usually seen only after training in captivity.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frank Lloyd Wright

"Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities." - Frank Lloyd Wright.

Other notable things he left us:

A friend and I took a tour of his home and studio today. What an eccentric man! He built his house wired for electricity, though it didn't come to the area for another two years; he used optical illusions to make space look larger (a balcony had decorative bands placed closer and closer together so from the ground the space above looked larger); and he built his grand piano into a wall so as to maintain the feel and action of a grand, without taking up the space in the room.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day.

In other news: Teachers in one district of Texas will be allowed to carry concealed guns to school; Two US men say they have found the body of a Bigfoot; and Olympic viewers are clogging exercise equipment help lines by trying to get their machinery set to keep pace with Olympians while they watch them on TV.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Day Off in Chicago

Despite the exorbitant entry fee for the Shedd Aquarium, I visited today, along with tons of loud-mouthed children and foreign tourists. It was really cool - and really gross - and quite creepy.......

A Dwarf Caiman. Falls under the category of "creepy."

A River Otter - my favorite. Definitely under the "cool" category.

Giant Japanese Spider Crabs. Spectacular. Then creepy when you think about them running around your kitchen at night.

I have no name for this turtle. He was just so funny looking!

Strawberry Anemones in the foreground, a California Moray in the background. Gross.

The tank in the middle of the Aquarium - you can see a shark, a sting ray and Waldo. Enjoy.

In other news: Tobacco may help treat cancer; the 37th Francophone Scrabble World Championships are taking place in Senegal this week; and completely unexpectedly, Lindsay Lohan wears see-through shirts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Within a Budding Grove

In the people-watching summer months, I find the intricate and pained musings in Proust's novels to be especially enjoyable.

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower is a story of relationships from the view of a tormented adolescent. In two parts, (focusing also on two distinct women), it gives an exhaustive representation of Paris and the Normandy seaside that I really enjoyed. With familiarity now with the same narrator that took us through Swann's Way, the reader is used to the paralyzing thoughts and neurotic behavior as a baseline for the slow-moving story.

As the narrator says, "In the confusion of existence, it is seldom that a joy is promptly paired with the desire that longed for it." While I do believe at this point the narrator was speaking of his first love, or rather his desire for her, that theme was carried through the whole book and might remind you of much in the first novel. Often despondent, the narrator concludes, "... those who know love and those who enjoy life are not the same people."

One of the narrator's acquaintances says to him, "There is no such thing as a man, however clever he may be, who has never at some time in his youth uttered towards, or even led a life, that he would not prefer to see expunged from memory. He should not find this absolutely a matter for regret, as he cannot be sure he would ever have become as wise as he is... had he not traversed all the silly or detestable incarnations that are bound to precede that final one." While sometimes laughing at and sometimes empathizing with the narrator, I see how well his words may ring true.

Chasing Down that Lazy Summer Day

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Blog Just to Blog

Hello. I'm still here. I forgot to tell you - I turned 30!


1. My dog had a fight with my rat.

2. I started cooking again.

3. I started running again (no pic - that would be weird).

4. I have been very busy working. Click HERE for proof.

5. And a giraffe licked my camera.

In other news: The Eighties are Back!


Friday, May 16, 2008


I am sitting in a cafe in Chicago. A man in a Hawaiian shirt is singing opera, sometimes to the tune of Music Box Dancer, sometimes not - about the WWE. I hate open mic-night poetry readings (sorry Michelle!). I would have included a picture but I didn't want to gawk.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Today is one of those glorious days with rain and thunder and a day off of work. It is DARK at 10am. I LOVE it.

I have been sitting on an exciting story for two weeks now, not having the time to blog, and kind of liking the privilege of exclusive knowledge. But let me tell you how exciting tax day was this year!

As usual, I filed early, sent my stuff certified mail and have already received a small refund. I'm on top of that kind of thing. However, on April 15th (a Tuesday, I'll always remember) I was having a painting party at my new apartment (oh yeah - I've moved). One of my friends came over and was telling us about his rotten day - how he seemed to have the anti-Midas touch. Late into the evening, he mentioned that he had yet to pay his taxes. !!!!! I don't do that kind of non-conformity. So, after finishing the kitchen wall, we put his bike in the back of my van and headed downtown to a post office that was touted as being open until midnight that night.

It was a quarter to midnight and anybody downtown that late on a Tuesday night is usually up to no good. I wish I could convey our astounded reactions to the bustle we encountered in approaching the post office. We were busy looking at addresses so we wouldn't pass it and suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a mysterious and desperate traffic jam. Routed to the side by police, I rolled down my window only to have a member of the special forces of the United States Post Office hold out a sack to me and ask for my taxes. Quickly slapping extra stamps on the envelopes, we shoved them out the window only then seeing that we were near the post office. Being pushed and prodded forward by frantic last minute tax payers and workers determined to keep things orderly, we found ourselves on Lake Shore Drive a mere eight minutes later dazed by the whole event. I really feel like I experienced tax day this year! I know that next year I'll pay early, as I always do, but at midnight on the 15th, I'll know what is out there and I can go to bed smugly knowing what I'm missing.

In other news: A man in India plans on being lifted by a helicopter by his ponytail; IronMan came out this weekend and I hear it is ******* awesome; I heard NPR do a bit on Grand Theft Auto IV yesterday, and many of the show's callers were similarly eloquent; and this Saturday is the Kentucky Derby (to find out how much racehorses pee, click here).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Four Piano Blues

I love it when you can say to a little girl, "You're so sparkly today," and she takes it as a compliment instead of an observation and says, "Thanks!"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Barber of Seville

Recently I was gifted a ticket to the Lyric Opera. I rearranged all my plans, dug out something nice to wear, and enjoyed the Barber of Seville more than I ever have - or ever thought I would.

I was surprised and diverted by the production (by John Conway), which juxtaposed the artwork of Magritte with the surrealistic layers of the opera. With each level of disguise and intrigue there lay another interesting aspect of the surrealist's art in the set (by John Conklin) and costume design. Rather than sticking to a traditional production or trying to spice it up with an unsuccessful modern-day setting like some so often do, this production was a huge success!
What I also loved about this particular performance was that the singers were given certain leeway as they would have been in Rossini's day which filled the performance with the sort of musical jokes that would have been typical when the opera was first written but that apply to the audience today!

My favorite scene was the overture opening the second act. Rather than have nothing occurring on stage while the orchestra played, an acting out of a rainy day was taking place. Of course, the backdrop was the famous painting of Magritte's with the men in the bowler hats.

Hidden in the costumes and the set (such as the inside of the umbrella containing the blue sky) were treasures of artwork and music. (That last sentence sounded stupid but I'm having a hard time writing about art.)

I look forward to my next opera opportunity. Goodnight.