Monday, May 30, 2011
Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
It was actually sunny away from the lake. But as you can see, there was an incredible fog rolling in off of Lake Michigan that made the city disappear. If you look closely you can see the top of the Hancock Building in the middle of this picture. Strange days indeed.
Englewood Neighborhood Chicago, IL
OK, this picture was not taken today. I am exagerating, but not by much, to prove a point. It was fucking cold today. May 26th, that's right, MAY 26th. I was wearing a ski cap and my Carhartt jacket with a hoodie under it. The actual temperature was 42 degrees with 35 MPH wind gusts and just for fun we had rain that changed from a mist to a driving rain every fifteen minutes or so. I wish the promised Rapture had happened last weekend.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The skies were gray all day but the sun broke through right before sunset. We took the dogs for a walk to Diaryville for ice cream...for us not them. Here is Oslo waiting for Chrissy & Roxie. This made me think of Fluffy because whenever I told Oslo to wait for Fluffy, he would stop, turn around and look for her to catch up to us. He seems to miss Fluff more than Roxie does.
My Backyard Patio, Lansing, IL
I got home from the Twilight Singers concert at 1:30AM, there was nothing on the patio at that time. When I let the dogs out at 6:15am, there was gray and white fur all over the patio. I believe this was the second murder on my property this month. We have a killer lurking or flying around Lansing.
I am trying to get home. First the traffic on the Dan Ryan is crawling, then construction slows traffic on Indianapolis Blvd and finally I get stuck on Hohman Ave by a stopped train. So I started looking at my fellow stranded drivers...wondering which one is going to snap...they all looked pretty content...it was then I realized it might be me.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Fluffy at Brownell Woods in January, Thornton IL
The picture is Fluffy doing what she loved best...hiking. It didn't matter if it was in the woods, at the beach or around the block. She loved to go for a walk. Last night I lost my favorite hiking partner. She was almost 13 years old. I knew she had slowed down in the past year and I began to think the end was near. Luckily it came quickly and peacefully for my favorite dog. I first saw Fluffy at the St. John Animal Control back in the summer of 2001. When I took her home, the lady from Animal Control told me that she couldn't put her down because Fluffy was the sweetest dog she'd ever been around. She was right. Everyone who met Fluff, even for a minute, said what a sweet dog. She was my beautiful mess. She had a snaggle tooth, bad fur, skin conditions and a tail like Eeyore but she never caused us any trouble except when a thunderstorm was coming. She would get so scared she didn't know what to do with herself, so she walked from room to room drooling, looking at you with a face that said "please make it stop". But no matter what you did, she would be frantic until the storm passed. This led to many sleepless nights but I will think of her whenever a storm approaches. I will miss the way she cocked her head and lifted her ears as if she wanted to be sure she heard me correctly when I said, "Wanna go for a ride"? Then she would do her Happy Feet dance as she scrambled across the floor to get Glacier or Oslo to go for a ride. Unlike the other dogs, Fluff would take her time on our walks, she loved hiking as much as I do. It was like she was enjoying being out in nature, taking it all in. When she got tired, she would just drop right on the trail and rest. There were plenty of times we both laid down and rested in the woods or on the dunes...just relaxing somewhere special. When Chrissy called me Sunday afternoon, I told her Fluff would not last much longer. She was fading, then all of a sudden she would pop her head up, then lay back down. It was like she was fighting off death. She has always been the toughest dog we've owned. She just never showed it with bravado...she was tough on the inside and sweet as can be on the outside. She lasted until Chrissy got home. We both had laid by her side, comforting her and telling her it was time to go. She died in her sleep around midnight. The next morning we wrapped her in a blanket and put her in the car. I had tears in my eyes as I said goodbye to my sweet old girl and started my work truck. Fluff would have none of that...the song playing on the radio was "Backwards Down The Number Line" by Phish.
"Happy happy oh my friend
Blow out candles once again
Leave the presents all inside
Take my hand and let's take a ride"
"You decide what it contains
How long it goes
But this remains
The only rule is it begins
Happy happy oh my friend"
Once again, Fluff brought a smile to my face and she will for the rest of my life. Rest in peace my old friend.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
My Kitchen Counter
This weather is driving me to drink. AAAAHHHH...a Coney Island Lager...a few of these and I can pretend it is a sunny day at the World's Greatest Beach.
Towle Theater, Hammond, IN
A night out on the town, well sort of a night out on the Region. We had dinner with our flower girl, Cindy at Cafe Borgia. The linguine pescatore was a perfect choice after eating a late lunch. Then we had to rush to make it to the Towle Theater before curtain time on a wonderfully staged performance of Good Boys and True. The play was about a privileged young man who surprisingly does something stupid. It was easily the most intense play we've seen at the Towle. The actors were fantastic as they handled the serious topic of filming a sex act without one of the participants knowledge. After the show, there was a Q&A with the actors. This was a very cool way to get some insight about the characters in the play and the actors real lives. If you enjoy seeing live theater or would like to see it for a reasonable price, please check out the Towle Theater website. This play runs through next weekend at the Towle then it will be at the Theater Wit in Chicago.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Downtown Dekalb, IL
Not sure what is going on in this mural but was strangely interested in it. Thanks to the internet and Google, I found the artist Olivia Gude. She has done some interesting things with her life and her art. If you are a politician hell bent on cutting funding for the arts or some one who appreciates art, click here to read about Olivia
Here's an article about the mural itself.
Here's an article about the mural itself.
Gage Park, Chicago, IL
Last weekend I was back on the mountain bike trails for the first time since my surgery. Tonight I played hockey with my NorthStar team in a league game for the first time since last October. I had no intention of skating in a playoff game but we were playing short handed in the loser bracket. We lost our first playoff game so we were playing for the bronze medal. Just like mountain biking last weekend, it felt great to play hockey with my team...I was slower than my usual slow self but it felt great to skate with a real purpose besides rehabbing my leg. I didn't contribute much but we won early in OT to finish the season on a high note. I didn't take any pictures at the rink so I used this one from earlier in the day. I figured if things went wrong, Chrissy could call them to pick up my corpse at the H-F Ice Arena.
Sweet Woods, Cook County Forest Preserve, Thornton, IL
This huge tree, that trunk is about 30" across, was cut down by the county. I came across this while riding the single track trails in Sweet Woods. They cleared out a huge area around a damaged sewer pipe that flows into Thorn Creek. So I figured they need to clear an area to get construction equipment into the woods. They did this a few years ago in order to clear the creek to prevent flooding. I bring it up now because there are very few big trees left in Sweet Woods. Many have fallen due to natural causes. There seems to be more this spring than in past years. It just seems that they could have spared this tree and cut smaller ones around it to make a path for the heavy equipment. Because it grew in the wrong location, this tree is now gone...just like that.
7:52am Lansing, IL
This one is going to take some explaining. This blog involves a couple of my friends. The first one is pictured here, Rick. Well almost visible in this picture. The second one is our mutual friend, Bill. I know both of these guys from playing hockey with them. Rick & I have worked together on and off for twenty years now. Even when we worked at different companies, we still used our company cell phones to make each other laugh, bust each others balls and run pump problems by each other. Rick is easily one of the best techs I know. He should be, I trained him. He also has this way about him that makes me want to ridicule him. It's hard to explain. So I'll put it like this, sometimes while talking to him, it is as aggravating as dealing with my wife. So he takes a ton of abuse from me for this particular trait. The most common abuse I give him is about his dislike of women and his proclivity to surround himself with men. I've joked about his 'Boyquarium' for years. So I gave Rick the nickname "Johnny Cakes" after seeing an episode of the Sopranos that involved a gay mobster. Now on to Bill. I've played hockey against Bill for years but never got to know him until a few years ago at the Sudden Death Hockey Club skates on Monday & Friday at the St. John Ice Rink. Bill has been my one fan of this stupid blog since I started it. He also loves life. It is impossible to spend time with Bill and not enjoy it. Hell, Bill is the oposite of Rick. After speding time with Rick, you speed dial the local Suicide Prevention hotline. I'll even excuse Bill for abandoning our locker room at St. John to join the Boyquarium at the Manadu locker room. He needs an intervention but that is for another day and another blog. The whole point of this blog is to get Bill to stop posting comments asking when I'm writing a blog about Rick. Why Bill wants a blog about Rick I don't know. Like I said he needs an intervention real soon before he becomes a lost cause. Anyway, I started calling Rick, "Superstar" because our boss never yells at him. At a place where everyone is told they never do anything right...Rick can do no wrong. At first he was "Jesus Christ Superstar" everytime the boss looked lovingly at him, then it became "Johnny Cakes Superstar". It is always sung to the song from the rock opera.
Johnny Cakes, Johnny Cakes
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Johnny Cakes Superstar
Do You Think You're What They Say You are
Sweet Woods, Cook County Forest Preserve, Thornton, IL
I've been riding my bike on the paved trails for over a month but today was different. Today I rode the single track trails at Sweet Woods and the horse trail at Jurgensen Woods. I rode with my sister-in-law Kimmie. We took the paved trail from Lansing Woods to Sweet Woods, then took the horse trail toward the train tracks. I was feeling pretty good so I started taking the single track trail loops back. We ended up doing all the single track trails. I even rode past the ravine where I ruptured my artery in my leg last October. There is a small bridge there now making the transition from downhill to uphill a little easier. I was tired but in a good way. It felt great to be riding again. I was content on riding the paved trail the five miles back home but Kimmie brought up the horse trail through Jurgensen. This trail is notoriously muddy until July but we decided to take it anyway. It was dry enough to ride at first. But deep in the woods it was disaster. My tired legs were completely drained by the time we got back to Stoney Island Ave. The combination of two months of nearly non stop rain, the deep horse hoof marks in the soft mud and the two tons of horse shit left on the trail made for extremely tough riding conditions. I could barely walk when I got home but it felt damn good.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Beat Kitchen, Roscoe Village, Chicago, IL
It's a rough week when you go out on Monday night to see some rock'n'roll and have a few beers.
The Beat Kitchen, Roscoe Village, Chicago, IL
While checking out all the band stickers on the wall at the Beat Kitchen, I found one that caught my eye. TRAKAN. So congrats to my friend, Mike Trakan. He has realized my dream from yesterday's post.
Beat Kitchen, Roscoe Village, Chicago, IL
If you love energetic, well crafted and cleverly written rock'n'roll songs, then I recommend this man to you. Frank Turner. I saw him open for Flogging Molly last year at the Aragon. That place is pretty big for an opening act of a man & his guitar. I thought he was amazing. I bought his "Love Ire & Song" and "Poetry Of The Deed" CD's. I haven't stopped listening to them since last spring. Then I saw him at Lollapalooza last August. This time he brought his band. They play at noon during a rain storm. They were fantastic. I was so glad I got up early to see them. I gave my friend Adam copies of both of Frank Turner's albums. I knew Adam, who is a music fan like me, would love these songs. He did and lucky for me because Adam has a twitter account. He found out that Frank Turner was playing at the Beat Kitchen, a little bar with stage in the back. We got there early and Frank was selling t-shirts, signing CD's and taking pictures with everyone there. We got a chance to talk music with him before and after the show. The show was amazing. I love seeing bands in small venues. The crowd was singing along with every song which is exactly what Frank wanted us to do. He told us we were the backing vocalists. It is hard to describe what makes a song great to an individual. I think if it speaks to you personally or you feel like you could have written it about yourself then that song becomes a favorite. Frank Turner has done that for me. A common theme is growing older and jaded but not disillusioned. Hell, that sounds like most of the posts on this blog. Here's a few of my favorites....
My nephew, Kennedy, had his confirmation today. It was the first time I'd seen him dressed up. He looked good and I felt old. Damn, that kid has grown up fast. I missed the church ceremony but did make the lunch at the Warsaw Inn for some fine Polish food. What did you expect from someone whose only knowledge of the Bible comes from Jesus Christ Superstar?
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Calumet Park, Chicago
It was supposed to be a nice day so we took the dogs to Calumet Park for a walk on the beach. It was another gray cloudy morning with a 40 MPH wind off the lake. The dogs got sandblasted on the beach, we didn't dress warm enough for that cold wind. The whole trip was a disaster. Here's a picture of Fluffy struggling in the wind. The old girl still loved being out for a walk. She has been my favorite hiking companion for ten years now. We've both slowed down over the years and now Chrissy is talking about putting both of us down soon.
My Front Yard Lansing, IL
Relax, it was sunny today and I did not commit the murder. I found the evidence. It looks like a squirrel met it's maker after becoming a meal for something that was able to eat the whole thing except the entrails. I didn't find a single bone. The whole ordeal seems pretty cool to me. It makes our suburban home seem like it is in the wilderness.