I love vacations. But I also love the sigh of relief that happens when I can sit down in my own house, put my feet up and snuggle with my dogs. The vacation after the vacation.
After spending the weekend in Manhattan with friends, that's what I needed. The afternoon off to recover.
I think that says something about my vacation style. My husband calls it "vacation mode" and it frightens him at times. That desire to do more and see more and go, go, go. I've gotten better over the years, but I still have to remind myself to rest sometimes.
And every time I go on vacation, there's always that one night when I have nightmares about my dog Thor running away while we're out of town. The nightmare is based in experience.
Thor is a rescue. A loving but very shy dog. Friendly and curious about people, but not trusting of their motives or intentions. A year and a half ago we were on a 24-hour overnight to see a friend get married in San Francisco, and Thor escaped from the dog-sitter's house. Dashed out a door late at night. I had a frantic trip home, including a four-hour flight where I was out of touch and desperately hoping he'd show up. There was another day of searching once I got home. Posting flyers. Calling dog shelters, police departments, veterinary offices. Thor finally showed up. He was hit by a car in the middle of a busy street. Nearly died. Had to have a hip rebuilt. (You wouldn't know it by looking at him now.)
I love both Loki and Thor equally, but I don't worry about Loki when I'm on vacation. She's Miss Confident. I WORRY about Thor.
So it was with a big smile and a sigh of relief that I walked in the door this afternoon, plopped down my suitcase and embraced my two crazy-to-see-us dogs.
I love my vacations, but I love coming home too.
To read more about the trip, see Dogs in New York, Visiting Ground Zero, Top of the Rock and Tea & Sympathy.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I love vacations. But I also love the sigh of relief that happens when I can sit down in my own house, put my feet up and snuggle with my dogs. The vacation after the vacation.
My two bottles of Hotaling's whiskey arrived safely, and one was immediately repackaged and transported to New York over the weekend to give to a friend from our San Francisco days.
That same bottle will then be transported across the pond to London, where Marc will, I hope, put it somewhere near his Golden Gate Bridge dining table. It will be one well-traveled bottle of whiskey (San Francisco - Chicago - New York - London).
Marc and Lesley also had a gift for me. A year ago, when Prince Charles married Camilla, I asked if they could pick up some sort of souvenir for me -- perhaps a tea cup if it wasn't too much effort. I thought it would be a hoot to have. A lark. Well, Marc and Lesley delivered, and then some. LOL. This cup is classic. Typo and grainy photos and all. (Even the wrong date, since the wedding was delayed by a few days for Pope John Paul II's funeral.) My husband has already called dibs on it. Any time he needs to use a mug, he promises, it will be that mug.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Found a wonderful little tea shop in Greenwich Village that gets the nod of approval from one of the Brits I was visiting over the weekend. Tea & Sympathy was a big hit with Lesley, who has been training in New York for the past several months and seemed primed to relish a taste of home.
(The shop also gets a nod of approval from a lot of celebrities and other British ex-patriots, according to the shop's website.)
We had Yorkshire Gold tea with scones, clotted cream and raspberry jam, and a British soft drink that Lesley said she hasn't had since she was a kid. (They were out of the Vimto and I think we ended up with the Ribena.)
Lesley also got excited when the adjacent fish and chips shop A Salt and Battery carried a pudding that she hadn't seen in London in years. I can't remember the name of it, but Lesley was impressed.
(Warning: The English usage of the word pudding can be translated to mean a custard-like dessert, any and all desserts, sausage or, as experienced by my husband, anything you want it to be. It's an extremely versatile word, he insists. But that's another story.)
The only truly touristy thing we did in New York was go to the Top of the Rock, which is the observation deck on the Rockefeller Center building. At $20 a person, it was a bit expensive, but the views were incredible.
Even though it's not the tallest building (70 floors), with their use of Plexiglas screens, being on the outdoor observation decks really gives an unprotected, "out-there" feeling.
Certain people in our group found it especially disconcerting. (Not me. I was right up there, sticking my camera between the panels.) As the official website says: "Panels of fully transparent safety glass -- the only thing between our visitors and the city -- are crystal clear for unobstructed, open-air viewing." That certain person among us would swear that the panels moved.
The top photo is of the Empire State Building, dressed up in red, white and blue, through the railing on the top-level observation deck. The middle photo is looking across at the middle level observation deck. The photo at right is the "Target® Breezeway, a cutting edge, interactive multi-media experience that puts a human touch on motion-detection technology, using the movements of our visitors as its catalyst."
It seems like a trip to New York requires a trip to the World Trade Center site. To pay respects. To try to more fully grasp what happened. To put my mind around it a little better -- if that's possible.
Truthfully, this isn't my first trip to New York since Sept. 11, 2001, but it's the first trip where I had any interest in going to Ground Zero. It was too easy to close my eyes and remember that day and the images I saw on television. I didn't feel a need to go until now.
Unexpectedly, I wasn't nearly as moved as I thought I'd be looking at where the Twin Towers used to be. It simply seemed like a big construction site. There was not much there that was helping me connect what I was seeing with what I was remembering.
That moment didn't come until we walked across the street to St. Paul's Chapel. I remembered hearing and reading about the chapel when Sept. 11 was happening. This historic little chapel where George Washington worshipped was feared lost for a brief period when the towers fell, but it miraculously survived intact.
According to a Sept. 3o, 2001, New York Times article Near Ground Zero, Unbowed Spires:
''When the towers fell, more than a dozen modern buildings were destroyed and damaged,'' Mayor Giuliani said at the prayer service in Yankee Stadium last Sunday. ''Yet somehow, amid all the destruction and devastation, St. Paul's Chapel still stands -- without so much as a broken window.
''It's a small miracle in some ways,'' he said, ''but the presence of that chapel standing defiant and serene amid the ruins of war sends an eloquent message about the strength and resilience of the people of New York City, and the people of America.''
The chapel quickly became a supply depot and a sanctuary for the rescue workers; a place to pause, to pray and, perhaps most preciously, to sleep.
It wasn't until I was in the chapel yard, then inside the chapel that I felt any human connection with that construction site across the street.
I know that when the new building goes up at Ground Zero there will be a museum and memorial to the victims of Sept. 11, but until then I recommend making the effort to walk across the street and visit the chapel.
I don't have photographic evidence to support this, but it's not an original revelation. I was pleasantly surprised this weekend to see how welcome dogs are in public indoor places in New York City -- and how well behaved those dogs are.
I first noticed two dogs indoors in the lobby of a major shopping area in an office building near Central Park. They were just standing with their owners, waiting.
A few hours later, I was in a shoe store in Union Square and I heard a quick, single bark. I looked, and an aisle over was a cute little thing, well-behaved except for that one outburst. Nobody seemed to mind that the dog was in the shoe store.
Even later, I was in a bar in Greenwich Village, and I noticed a pug wandering around greeting people. Then I looked up and noticed a bichon frieze with its head ON the bar, and another bichon sitting ON a chair. All perfectly normal. Nobody seemed to mind.
Then I really started to notice the dogs. Small ones in arms on trips up escalator, larger ones resting under outdoor dining tables. Remarkable.
Now, I'm sure there are dogs that aren't so well socialized. I'm sure that accidents happen and sometimes businesses regret allowing their patrons to bring the dogs in. But I thought it was nice to see them so welcome. (I wish my dogs were welcome so many places here in my Chicago suburb, not that I'd bring my dogs to many, if any, indoor public places except the pet store -- their tails would cost me a fortune in breakage!)
Now let me juxtaposition all the well-mannered dogs I saw with a few ill-mannered people. While we were picnicking on the lawn in Central Park that very same day, there were many families around us. A few times I thought I saw parents bring their children behind a large rock or tree so they could urinate. In a public park. Not ten feet from where I was eating. And not too long a walk to an actual bathroom. I understand that emergencies happen with children, but really, in an area where thousands of people are running around barefoot, sitting on the ground and picnicking?
Funny thing was, I know they were there, but I don't remember seeing a lot of dogs in the park that day.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
"What is a free-cycler?" you ask?
According to the website Freecycle.org there are about 2.25 million members of about 3,500 freecycle online communities. Membership is free and it involves signing up to an email list that distributes offers and requests for free items that might otherwise end up in the trash.
I heard about Freecycle probably through a news report and signed up many months ago. While I monitored what was offered in my community, I didn't participate until I had a set of vertical blinds to get rid of. I'd tried selling them in a garage sale, but got little interest. There were in really good shape and the idea of throwing them away was painful to me. They were too cumbersome to store, and they probably would have gotten ruined (in transport and storage) if I'd donated them to charity.
So I turned to freecycle. Within a day of posting the vertical blinds, I had emails from half a dozen people eager to give my blinds a good home. (There are about 350 people in my local group.) I picked one person to respond to, set up a time for her to pick them up, and another day later, they were gone. I felt good, and the lady who took the blinds was thrilled to have them.
I won't hesitate to freecycle again.
So, I went over a week between updates to this site. It wasn't through a lack of things to talk about. I think I had just too many possibilities and not enough time to organize and refine my thoughts. I'll try not to let it happen again.
Saw The DaVinci Code last Friday. The critical reviews weren't that strong going in, so I was worried, but I ended up enjoying the movie. The story stayed true to the book, but I got the impression that you really had to pay attention if you weren't familiar with the ideas of the book. As with most books adapted into movies, the book is much better, especially, in this case, the illustrated version. What the movie lacked was the depth of the codebreaking in the artwork itself. Without it, the name "DaVinci Code" loses some of its meaning.
Had some belated birthday celebrations with friends. It was nice to go out and enjoy some sushi and drinks, and some margaritas and shopping (two different excursions with two different groups). I appreciate friends taking the time to make me feel special.
Finally got the backyard set up for summer. My gazebo and outdoor furniture (birthday gift from husband!) just beg for a barbecue. With all our spring rain, the yard is lush and inviting. Lets hope it stays that way this year. We're just moving into hot weather now (might hit 90 over the weekend). Last year the summer was so hot and dry, there was no pleasure in being outside.
Really liked the Lost season finale. Can't wait to see the direction it goes off into next year. I'm disappointed that a few characters who were so likeable the first season became so unlikeable by the end of the second, but that's a small complaint. I'm tempted to spend some time exploring all the Lost websites, but I know that there will be all summer to do that. (I found it very amusing the virtual Lost universe that has been created on the internet by ABC -- going beyond the Hanso Foundation TV commercials to even have a "Hanso Foundation representative" interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night.)
That's pretty much a wrapup of what I might have talked about the past week. Perhaps throwing in some links to some interesting articles I found online. I'll tease you with this thought: Loki got a haircut. Expect to see some photos.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
We've had visitors. They appear to be strays or feral, and they've come back several times over the past week. In fact, I didn't realize there were two of them until I looked out at about 1 a.m. and saw them curled together. I just named them tonight. That's a bad sign, isn't it? At least I haven't fed them.
They're laying on Dad's rocking chair, and blend in well with the cushion. We've had a lot of rain lately, and the chair is on a sheltered, lit porch.
They're really jumpy. Any sound or quick movement near them will cause them to flee. This was taken through the front door, pushing the curtain aside, without the flash. I managed to take three pictures before scaring them away, although this was the only usable photo.
Obviously, a part of me thinks they're cute and is tickled that they've found a comfortable spot on Dad's chair. But I also know it's not good to have feral cats around. I don't see any collars or tags, and they sure spook easily.
Perhaps once the rain lets up they'll disappear. Or maybe they'll move on when we relocate the chair to the back patio. I'll continue to keep an eye out for them.
No matter how often people say my dogs are large, they always seem petite to me. Now I have evidence.
Saturday, we went to the Multi Shelter Pet Expo put on by DuPage County Animal Control. It was a rainy, outdoor event that featured many local pet rescue groups.
Now, I know my dogs aren't tiny. With Loki at 95 pounds and Thor at 75 pounds, they can be a lot of dog.
But then we met Monster. He's a 240 pound mastiff who appeared to have the sweetest disposition. Is that a harness on his back or a saddle? In this photo, Thor is in back and off to the side. See how petite Thor looks?
But I realize that not many dogs can be 240 pounds. OK, then. How about Thunder? I'm not sure of his weight, but he seems large even for a malamute. And as gentle as could be. He took a treat from my hand with the softest of touches. Loki sure looks impressed in this picture.
It seems to me that the larger the dog, the better behaved it usually is. People will tolerate churlish small dogs, but big dogs don't make it far in this world without learning some social skills.
(Thank you, Marriott, for sending the photos from your camera-phone!)
Monday, May 15, 2006
My mother was listening to The Da Vinci Code on CD again. When I asked her about it, she said she was trying to figure out what made it such a phenomenon with people. She couldn't figure it out. She thought it just an OK book.
I, evidently, enjoyed the book more than my mother. Sure, there were issues with the pacing, and the historical conspiracy seemed so much more interesting than the suspense plot, but it was still a one-night read for me. A true page-turner.
So, at lunch today, I read the Sun-Times article 'The Da Vinci Code': Is it worthy? with a lot of interest. Maybe it would help me figure out the appeal, too.
The article ponders:
Is it Brown's canny combination of religious conspiracy theories, secret societies, code-cracking and art-historical mumbo-jumbo? Has it tapped into a wave of anti-Catholicism following a rash of sex-abuse scandals in the church? Does it satisfy an emerging hunger for feminist theologies? Is it the novel's choppy but breathless pace, with nearly every one of its 105 brief chapters punctuated by a cliffhanger? Or is it, by now, chiefly a case of snowballing fame, with many readers buying the book just to see what all the fuss is about?For me, I identified with the first idea of conspiracy theories and secret societies, plus the idea of a feminist theology. I like the idea of religion with balance - the divine masculine AND the divine feminine. The idea appeals to me that Jesus, born as a man, lived as a man, and established religion doesn't have the story perfectly right.
I think, too, that the story gives a new entry point for people to reconnect with the teachings of Jesus - an entry point that bypasses the legacy of established religion with its history of warfare and manipulation in the name of God.
But the article I was reading didn't go into any of that. The article looks at all the things that are bad about the writing in the book, with often harsh language, but offers no examination on why it works. WHY it's such a phenomenon.
With its flat prose, stick-figure characters, wooden dialogue, perfunctory scene-setting and an unfortunate tendency to interrupt the action with momentum-killing lectures, the novel is in some ways the unlikeliest of best sellers. Many Chicago writers, critics, scholars and book-industry insiders are flummoxed by the book's success.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to look at these things, too. As a writer, I want to figure out what made this story work. And it does work. Books don't become uber-bestsellers without hitting a chord with people.
But the article kept focusing on the negatives, bashing the writing, one critic after another, until everyone sounded like a bunch of whining writers upset that they couldn't figure out the magic formula.
And then, wouldn't you know it, one of the people quoted in the article couldn't help but pick on romance novels.
Not that Brown is guilty of any felonies against literature. "It's basically competent writing," says Ann Hemenway, a professor of fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago. "It doesn't offer much in terms of language or character development or deeper psychological issues, but it gets you where you're going, keeps you turning the pages. Certainly in terms of commercial fiction, The Da Vinci Code isn't the worst thing I've ever read -- it's not a Harlequin romance, after all. No one can say that Dan Brown has done terrible things to the world of letters."Hey! My friends write Harlequin romances. My friends read Harlequin romances. I'd feel prevailed to be published by Harlequin romance. Is it really fair to imply that Harlequin romances have done "terrible things to the world of letters"? It's a sign that something is truly popular, truly established, when it becomes such a big and easy target for people to hit at. The heavy-weights of the publishing industry: The Da Vinci Code and Harlequin romance.
Moving beyond the Sun-Times article, I'm looking forward to The Da Vinci Code's movie release on Friday. We're taking a group of friends who haven't read the book. I'll be interested to see how well the story adapts to the big screen, and the thoughts my friends take away from the movie.
Will the movie adaptation smooth out the flaws these critics noted in the storytelling and help answer the question of why the story is so appealing? Or will it leave people wondering even more?
"When there is something of wonder in an object, your hands try to affirm what your eyes can't quite get a hold of."
I really like this statement from artist Anish Kapoor in response to a question about people constantly touching his creation, the Cloud-Gate sculpture (aka The Bean) at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Very eloquently spoken.
Read more in the Sun-Times article Bean sculptor gives in to nickname.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
It's been many years since I've visited Santa's Village. I'm not exactly the correct demographic. It's one of those places, though, that just about every kid who grew up in Chicago's northwest suburbs visited at some point. In my experience, people who didn't grow up here often react to the idea of Santa's Village with a "huh-what-the?"
Regardless, I have some fond memories there, and I was sad to read in the Chicago Tribune (Santa's Village has stocking filled with IOUs) that the place won't be opening this weekend.
Addendum May 15: The Tribune article notes that Santa's Village and Kiddieland are the last two of the old-time amusement parks in the Chicago area.
In the mid-1960s, the Chicago area boasted as many as 30 parks, according to the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Today, Kiddieland in Melrose Park is the only survivor.
It looks like Kiddieland may not be far behind Santa's Village. A Sun-Times article Adult squabble may doom Kiddieland reports that the park may only have a few years left.
Friday, May 12, 2006
I post a need... and someone responds.
Thank you, Lewis, for doing a search for Hotaling's whiskey, finding my site and reading about my search to acquire some of the whiskey, then directing me to Vintage Wine & Spirits near San Francisco. (This is a lesson to me to try using a different search engine sometimes!)
I've placed an order, and if all goes well, I will soon have some Hotaling's whiskey in my possession. (If anyone's looking, the store appears to be down to its last three bottles in stock.)
Just to tie this in to another previous post, the two bottles I purchased cost almost exactly what I made in the garage sale last weekend.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Ever since reading on the Anchor Brewing website that the company had produced a special-edition commemorative Hotaling's Whiskey, and then writing about it last month, I've been interested in acquiring a bottle. After doing a little research locally and scouring the internet, I emailed the brewing company directly to find out if any local distributors carried it.
Here is the response I received yesterday: "Our Hotaling's is available only in California. Unfortunately, since we bottled only 30 cases of it, it is sold out."
The funny thing is, I don't even like whiskey. (I aspire to, though.) What I like is the history surrounding the whiskey. The San Francisco connection. Plus, I know it would look really nice in the bar my husband and I had built in our living room.
I know I'm not the only person attracted to the idea of the Hotaling's whiskey. For the small number of hits this site receives, I've noticed that a percentage of people have found my site through internet searches for Hotaling's whiskey.
And in my quest to find the bottle, I admit to doing a little searching of my own. Here are some interesting sites I found:
- Discussion about Anchor's Hotaling's Whiskey: Whisky Magazine
- About Anchor Brewing Company : San Francisco: Designated Brewery
- About the history of Hotaling's Whiskey: Guided by History: In Good Spirits: "Hotaling"
- Someone who tried the Anchor Hotaling's Whiskey: Cocktails with Camper English: Hotaling's Whiskey
I admit to being a huge fan of the TV show "Lost". I picked it up at about the fourth episode last year, and haven't let it down since. The characterization and the backstories grabbed me first, and then I started to learn all the levels of mystery on the island.
I also admit to enjoying stories about the art of storytelling. The writer in me is always attracted to the nuts and bolts, even when it's not the media I'm working in. USA Today had a good article this week called "Lost in 'Lost'" that looked at some of the storytelling in "Lost".
Everything about Lost is designed for analysis, says Joyce Millman, who wrote one of the Getting Lost essays. She credits the writers with "a rich variety of references: scientific, biblical, pop-cultural, literary, historical, philosophical."The book mentioned in the article, Getting Lost, is edited by author Orson Scott Card. He has some interesting insights in the show and the nature of suspense stories.
Millman, whose essay is called Game Theory, sees Lost's structure attracting fans via familiarity: She thinks it works like an interactive video game. "The story line and the action develop on multiple levels. There are hidden clues that function like the Easter eggs in gaming," Millman says. "Lost is a big game, and the act of watching it forces you to play along."
Card enjoyed the first season more and says he's not certain Lost is revealing answers quickly enough. Its future success depends on providing enough answers and making them complicated enough to be worth the fans' commitment.
"Real suspense comes from answers, not questions. Suspense comes not from wondering what's going on but from wondering what happens next," he says. "If you withhold answers, it becomes impossible to satisfy."
With Mother's Day coming up, I've noticed a lot of stories about parenting in the papers. I've included some links below, plus links to some other fun stories.
The "hot mom" or the MILF seems to come up in conversation more often lately. A Chicago Sun-Times story "Sex, love and motherhood" looks at how women are redefining what it means to be a mom.
"There was this stigma about being a mom," says Denay, 31, a former teacher and counselor who also worked as a private tutor to actor Pierce Brosnan's son. "People would say, 'You don't look like a mom.' Well, what does a mom look like? The biggest thing with moms is getting in the mind-set that you are still desirable, and that part of you needs to be nurtured."Denay has a book out, called "The Hot Mom's Handbook: Moms Have More Fun!", and has a website called the Hot Moms Club.
The New York Times had an often gory story about animals that are less then exemplary mothers, titled "One Thing They Aren't: Maternal".
As much as we may like to believe that mother animals are designed to nurture and protect their young, to fight to the death, if need be, to keep their offspring alive, in fact, nature abounds with mothers that defy the standard maternal script in a raft of macabre ways. There are mothers that zestily eat their young and mothers that drink their young's blood. Mothers that pit one young against the other in a fight to the death and mothers that raise one set of their babies on the flesh of their siblings.
Both the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times had stories about a recent study that showed women can judge, with a surprising degree of accuracy, which men would make better long-term or short-term partners just by looking at men's faces.
According to the Tribune story, titled "Daddy material? It takes just 1 look":
"Our data suggest that women are picking up on facial cues that may be related to paternal qualities," said the lead author of the paper, James Roney of the University of California, Santa Barbara. "The more they perceived the men as liking kids, the more likely they could see having a long-term relationship."
According to the Sun-Times tory, titled "Like babies? Women can see it on your face":
"They were surprisingly accurate in judging men's interest in infants, as well as their masculinity," said University of Chicago behavioral biologist Dario Maestripieri, a co-author of the study.
"In Men, 'Trigger-Happy' May Be a Hormonal Impulse" is a New York Times story about a study that found that handling guns appears to stir a hormonal reaction in men. "Fifteen minutes later, the psychologists measured saliva testosterone again and found that the levels had spiked in men who had handled the gun but had stayed steady in those working with the board game," according to the story.
On a funny note, a friend sent me a link to this story about, of all things, cleavage.
"Not all men are alike, so not all men look in the same way. Through close examination, I've uncovered five distinct ways in which men look at cleavage, or, as the woman in the next cubicle calls them, 'puppies on parade'," writes RedEye columnist Jimmy Greenfield in his column, titled "We're gonna look if you show cleavage". (Note: It doesn't look like Redeye keeps archives online, so if you wait to read this one, you may have to go to the Google cache.)
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Call me a word geek, but I read this word on a friend's blog (Driving to Oahu: Get out your dictionary), and it now qualifies as a favorite.
Tatterdamalion: n. A person wearing ragged or tattered clothing; a ragamuffin. adj. Ragged; tattered.
Tatterdemalion: A ragged fellow, whose clothes hang all in tatters. (Definition taken from The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally by Francis Grose.)
Also a supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe.
It'll go right up there with tintinnabulation, which has been a favorite word since college.
tintinnabulation: n. The ringing or sounding of bells.
Two words that I'll probably never use in conversation, but when they come up in the game Balderdash, I'll be ready with the correct definition.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I'm writing a book set in 1832 during the last Indian war east of the Mississippi, and a year before the treaty that forced most local Indian tribes west, and I found it interesting to read that the Prairie Band of the Potawatomi are coming back to Shabbona, IL.
Shabbona is about 70 miles west of Chicago and named for a local Potawatomi leader known for his leadership around the time of the Black Hawk War.
Here's an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune article, headlined "Tribe won't say if casino is in the cards".
"After more than 150 years, we have a piece of our original homeland back," said Chairwoman Tracy Stanhoff of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, who were forced to leave Illinois for Kansas in the 19th Century. "We are home now."
The History Page on the Prairie Band website explains that the band still has a claim to the land.
The 1830 Removal Act was a governing policy of the United States government. The policy revolved around a dream that the Indian "problem" could be eliminated forever by persuading the eastern Indians to exchange their lands for territory west of the Mississippi. The exchange would leave the area between the Appalachians and the "Father of Waters" free for white exploitation and settlement.I don't care that much about the casino issue, but I'll be interested to follow how this land case progresses.
However, the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien reserved two sections of land near Paw Paw Grove, Illinois for Potawatomi Chief Shab-eh-nay and his Band. In 1849, the land was illegally sold through public auction by the U.S. Government. Since an act of Congress or a subsequent treaty is necessary to extinguish the Tribe's rights to the reservation and it wasn't included in the cession treaties, it continues legally to belong to the Prairie Band.
Thank you to everyone who supported me, Dave, and Loki & Thor in the MS Walk yesterday. We're really close to raising $1,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. We're at 90 percent of our goal - $900 - and hope to collect a few more donations after-the-fact.
It was a gorgeous day for the walk, sunny and about 63 degrees at the time.
While the humans enjoyed it, a certain team-leading dog, whom we shall call "Pokey" Loki, thought it was way too hot, and after valiantly walking the first 2.5 miles, decided to put in a few protest sit-down strikes during the last half-mile. Her strikes were always staged in a cool shady place, especially if she saw a long open sunny stretch coming up ahead. (If she could talk, Loki would say something to the effect of: You try walking in the sun wearing a long, black fur coat. Oh sure, Thor did it, but he's an idiot. No common sense. Plus I'm bigger. And all that pulling on the leash takes more energy.)
Don't worry. There were lots of water stops along the route. And lots of passing praise for Loki and Thor from other walkers.
Thor did really well on the walk. He didn't mind the crowd, as long as people weren't trying to pet him. The few times they tried, our friendly but shy Thor was able to skirt away and let Loki take the brunt of the attention. He proudly wore his "BARC'N for rescue" bandana (BARC, the Bernese Auction Rescue Coalition, is the rescue society we got him from), but Dave said a few people were confused by the bandana, thinking he was available for adoption.
After the walk, the dogs were rewarded with a fully airconditioned ride back home, with a stop at a local restaurant where the four of us ate lunch in the shady outdoor beer garden. Again, Loki & Thor earned lots of praise for laying so calmly at our feet. It helped that they had minimal energy left.
Shortly after noon when we got home, the dogs happily spent the rest of the day indoors, napping. The humans, on the other hand, had a few hours of yardwork to dig into.
Thank you again to those who supported us. Next year, we promise to get Loki off to an earlier start. Perhaps it will even be overcast and rainy.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Box-loads of stuff gone. A pocket-full of cash in. Two days spent with my mother and sister - priceless.
Friday and Saturday were my almost-annual garage sale with my mother and sister. The weather was nice and we had a good sale, but I can't say that any of us raked in a ton of cash. Figured as an hourly wage, my net take wasn't so good. But factor in the time spent with my family, the relief of getting rid of stuff I no longer use, and the rewards of seeing some of that stuff go to people who can give it good homes, and it becomes worthwhile.
The first sale we logged on Friday? A toilet seat - brand new and still in its packaging. (It wasn't my contribution to the sale, BTW)
Because I often link to Amazon.com in my posts anyway, I decided to experiment with being an Amazon Associate. That means that every time someone follows an Amazon link from this website, orders something and completes the purchase within 24 hours, I'll earn a referral fee.
I don't expect to generate much, but it's a good learning opportunity for me. Generating income is a bonus. :)
Shop at Amazon.com
Note: The former journalist in me worries that being an associate will compromise my perceived objectivity, but the blogger in me says that this site is all about opinion anyway. Does it matter?
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Had a fun job last night -- calling writers to let them know they are finalists in the paranormal category of the Windy City Four Seasons Awards. The excitement in the finalists' voices and the privilege of bearing good news makes the job of being a contest coordinator rewarding.
Now I need to bundle those finalists' entries off to the editor and agent who will determine final ranking (and, hopefully, request to see more of the manuscripts).
On the personal front, I received my entry back from the Show Me the Spark contest. I didn't final, but I did get some good comments.
"I was sucked right into the scene. Good Job!" said one judge. "Fun story with a great premise. I enjoyed the opening. You have a good talent for describing your scene," said another judge.
It was interesting to me to compare the feedback from this contest to the feedback from the First Kiss Contest, in which I placed second. In both contests, I submitted the exact same chapter. It just shows me what a difference the score sheet makes in instructing the judges what to look for.
As I was looking over old contest results, I came across my entry that placed second in the historical category of the Stepping Stone contest in 2004. For some reason, I never really mentally processed the wonderful comments I received.
"First of all, you are an extremely talented, skilled writer. You have a fresh, strong voice and to me, 'voice' is difficult to achieve as a writer. You've got that mastered. ... You have great characters. ... You excel at description. You really know how to paint a picture with words. ... Wonderful humor. ... You have real talent as a writer. The story is intriguing and compelling and your voice and style are superior," said the published judge.
Feedback like that keeps me going. I wish I'd sent a thank-you note to that judge. There a lot of judges I wish I'd sent thank-you notes to.
Always striving to improve, and fresh from judging a contest myself, I've already written my thank-you's to the Show Me the Spark judges.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
After all that angst and drama, I figured out the lawn mower situation and got the front yard finished tonight. It was a good workout, as parts of the lawn were wet, especially near the sump pump discharge.
Here's the condition I left it in when the mower clogged yesterday.
Now it's on to the backyard. After another day of rain, that is. I promise not to keep you updated. LOL
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The lawn service called bright and early. Said they were too far behind this week because they let their crew have off work yesterday for the rally. Said that all landscapers will probably be in the same boat.
Looked at the mower again. I think it's just really clogged. Removed as much grass as I felt I safely could. I'm hoping a friend can come over after work tonight and show me how to take out a spark plug so I can safely get the mower unclogged.
You'd think I'd never mowed a lawn before. Well, maybe it's been at least 15 years. And that was a small yard using an electric mower. I didn't have to worry about pull-starting gas-powered small engines, but I did have to worry about mowing over the extension cord.
This year, I'm mowing the lawn myself. For the past few years, ever since we've lived in a house with a lawn, we've hired others to do it. But, I'd like to try doing it myself. Saving a little money while getting a workout are bonuses.
So far, I'm off to a swimming start.
It took us a while to actually get the mower, and in the meantime, the lawn was getting long. I mean, embarrassingly long. I finally got the mower on Saturday. Right when it started to rain. Which continued through Sunday and into Monday.
When I got home Monday night, I decided it was dry enough to attempt the front yard. I filled the gas can at the gas station. I filled the mower. I started the mower. I did the side and the parkway first. Things were going well.
Then, I attempted the main part of the front yard. On the third swipe, I killed the mower. It just seemed to choke on all that grass. Then the cord wouldn't pull. It was locked in place. With no clue what to do next, I called it a night. It was almost dark anyway.
So now my lawn is totally overgrown, with a mowed stripe down the middle. As if I wasn't embarrassed before.
I'm going to research what might be wrong with the mower. In the meantime, I've left a message with last year's lawn service hoping they can schedule me for a one-time visit this week. I hope they're not too behind because of the immigration rally today. We'll see.
Monday, May 01, 2006
As I've slowly revealed to more family and friends that I have a blog, I keep getting variations on the questions: What is a blog? and Why blog?
I usually stumble through an answer, trying to explain the origin of a "web log" as an online diary. That there are blogs meant only for an audience of a few, and blogs targeting an audience of thousands. Some trying to share baby pictures with far-flung family, some trying to influence the election of the next president of the United States.
So, I Googled "Why blog" and came up with this interesting link "Why Do We Blog?" on Sandhill Trek.
Here, the author asked 35 people why they blog, and got a variety of answers. Here's an excerpt:
Seth Finkelstein amplifies Brian's observations regarding the particular and the singular subject matter with his comments regarding an audience comprising "three regimes - one, few, many." Why does Seth blog?I think this blog fits in the "Few" category, and I'm perfectly happy with that.
Short Answer: "To be heard"
In my view, there are three regimes, roughly: One, few, many.
"One" == Diaries. Some people keep their diary on-line, and don't mind if others read it.
"Few" == Socializing, chatting. The intended audience is close friends, and events only of interest to that circle.
"Many" == Punditry. The goal is to reach as many people as possible with your ideas.
In the book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman describes people as either "Babbling Brooks" or "Dead Seas". I tend to be a Dead Sea in person, content to listen and more than comfortable with silence. Often, I don't have anything at all to say. Oh, sure, I have my Babbling Brook moments, but, in general, I'm a quiet person. I reveal more about myself on this blog than I do to most people in conversation.
Maybe, for me, the answer to "Why blog" is that I love to write. I find I can be quite the Babbling Brook on paper. I figure, if you're here, you're interested and you'll stick around to listen. If not, you'll move on.