The View from the Top

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Yesterday, I participated in the Sky Rise Chicago Tower Up benefiting the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. For me (although I’m sure others had no problem), this was no easy feat. 103 flights is a long way to go.

After the first 10 flights of stairs, I felt like there was no way I was going to be able to finish. Then, I was a quarter of the way done, and then a half. My legs weren’t bothering me so much, but my lungs were killing me. I’m not going to lie, there were times when I thought maybe I should just quit. But, then when there were firefighters in full gear, or people with physical disabilities doing it, there was really no excuse for me not to finish. I sucked it up, and then I was on the 98th floor and finally popping out of that door at the finish line. And, it was worth it:
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Before the event, I set a personal goal for myself. Did I make that goal? No, but I finished and I finished under an hour, and I’m proud of myself. I thought just that once was enough and that I wouldn’t be doing it again next year. But, after talking to another participant today, we decided that we’re (hopefully) going to do it again next year, and next year we ARE going to make those goals, and hopefully beat them.
 

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Tumbleweeds of Garbage

Springtime is here (I think). The snow has long melted (even though there was a sprinkle the other day), and the breeze carries tumbleweeds of litter down the street, and most of it stops right next door. The boarded up burnt out shell of a house has a yard that has become the catch all for garbage. Kind of like how most kitchens have the junk drawer, next door is the garbage yard.

Even if there wasn’t garbage, the place isn’t looking too hot. Patches of grass here, empty patches there. A magnolia so butchered that it probably won’t even blossom this year. We’re debating what to do to make it less of an eyesore. Granted it’s not our responsibility, but we’re the ones who have to look at it every day.

My idea was throwing down a bag of wild flower seeds, since you can get a big bag fairly cheap and they’re basically maintenance free. Eric would rather put down grass. Not sure how that would go since our house doesn’t have a water hookup outside, and the water next door has long since been shut off….decisions decisions.

In our own yard news, I think this coming weekend’s finally going to be the weekend to start getting the garden in. I checked the garden centers at Home Depot over the weekend, and they still don’t have a lot yet, so I am thinking of bopping up to Gethsemane Garden Center this weekend to check out the selection there. My seeds all have seedlings which is exciting, so I will be putting those out to harden during the day this week, and hopefully they continue to be not dead.

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It’s 40 Degrees Out, So It’s Time to Start Working on the Garden

To facilitate aforementioned chimney fixing (and also some window updates), we had to move my raised garden, which previously looked like this (just after planting, by the end of summer, this thing is crazy with flowers):

It’s a little sad, because all my perennials have been coming back pretty nicely, and we dug those all up. But, the plus side is that I get to choose all kinds of new things to go in the garden. I’ve been sucked into drooling over plants and seeds and there’s way too much to choose from. This is just a small sample of things I’d love to see in there (all shade tolerant, due to our big ol’ tree):
Garden.
In the past, I’ve gotten all of our plants from the selection available from Home Depot, but I think I’m going to order plants and bulbs from Burpee this year as well to get some of those nicer varieties in, especially the coleus and the different types of hostas.

I also started some seeds indoors yesterday. Just a couple things, but hopefully I get some good plants, and won’t have to buy as many. I planted some foxglove, lupine, columbine, and then for some ground cover, alyssum.

We also made a couple other upgrades to the garden. When we originally built it, we opted not to put a liner in. We also threw about three years of shredded magazine pages in there for filler. Since we don’t have a yard, just a cement slab, every time it rained, we wound up getting gross dirty water seepage. If it rained really hard, that dirt water would splash up the sides. You can see in the picture above, that the light colored wood is pretty hard to keep clean.

So, we have now inserted a liner, and made some holes for drainage out the back. We also re-stained the wood a darker color, which I am hoping will be a little kinder as far as masking dirt goes. We chose to go with a semi-transparent gloss in Behr’s Russet:

I would put pictures up of the garden…but the yard still looks like a mini excavation site, as we have not actually got all the dirt back INTO the garden. Moving 800 lbs (or if you want to go with Eric’s estimate 1600 lbs) of dirt is not the easiest/funnest task in the world.

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Our Chimney Needs A-Fixin’

So…last week, I was sitting in my recliner, doing homework, watching probably some criminal procedural on TV, just minding my own business. Out of nowhere, there is a horrible crashing sound and I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

That something wound up being a brick falling down the chimney and into the fireplace. I haven’t really figured out what exactly I should do with it, so it’s still sitting there.

Eric had one masonry guy climb up on the roof during the week so he could give us an estimate, but he also scheduled another guy to come out on the weekend, i.e. Saturday morning. I missed the exchange between Eric and this guy, but uh, yeah, we’re probably not going to call him back, seeing as how Eric told him we needed work on the chimney, and the guy didn’t even bring a ladder and just tried to eyeball the situation…from outside…at ground level. Genius.

We’ve been making it a point to go to the library every couple weeks for audiobooks. Since my commute is ridiculous, they are a good way to pass the time, and most of the libraries we’ve been to (Little Village, Beverly, Avalon, Irving Park) have had a decent selection. Saturday, however, we decided to go the Greater Grand Crossing Branch, which is on the corner of 73rd, Ellis, and South Chicago.

This was a much different experience. The library was small, with a lot of empty space on its shelves, and instead of having a dedicated area just for audiobooks, the audibooks were interspersed with the regular books, which meant you really had to hunt for them. Normally, I only opt for non-fiction audibooks, there was just something that didn’t feel right about having a ‘story’ read to me. But, alas, there were only like three non-fiction selections, none of which seemed very promising.

I was just going to go bookless, but then Eric pointed out Stephen King’s “Duma Key” to me. I was about to be like “meh”, but THEN i glanced at who was reading it (I checked out a book once and they guy reading had a terrible whistle when he spoke, I couldn’t even get past the first 10 minutes. Whoever produced THAT should have maybe put some thought into getting someone that wouldn’t be so obviously annoying. Anyway, I digress).

How could someone pass up a book read by this guy?!?!
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That’s right. John Slattery. But in my head, Roger Sterling is totally sitting there in his little suit with vest get-up reading to me…I have no shame.

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A quick one

If you’re getting in your car to go somewhere, and you say to the person getting in your car with you, “My car feels taller than it usually does”, you should probably not continue driving anyway. Because you will wind up hearing a horrible crunching sound. Then you will get out of your car, find a jack lying in the street, and realize that someone stole the lug nuts off your car, but left the tire, which your car is now resting on.

When you watch the footage from your security camera, you will still have no idea why ONLY the lug nuts were taken.

Never a dull moment in this hood.

Back from hiatus

Holy crap, it has been insanely busy since March…but I’m determined to start blogging regularly again. I’ve had a lot of adventures since my last post:
A road trip down south:
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Drinking fancy beers at the Garfield Park Conservatory:
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Discovering Greenbush Brewery:
Flight at Greenbush

I also threw a party for Eric’s birthday, and made so much delicious food, and then totally forgot to take pictures of the finished product, but among other things, there were mini chicken & waffles, with fried chicken a la Thomas Keller:
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and banana pudding cupcakes:
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And today, I finally grilled at the house for the first time with my cute new grill:
Finally got a grill.

Nothing fancy; just hot dogs and a corn salad, but this definitely tasted like summer and I have a feeling this summer is going to be good.
Dinner

Spring Has Sprung

It was damn near 70 degrees outside today, so even if spring doesn’t *really* start until the 20th, it’s spring in my book. And I’m determined to make the most of being outside this spring. Now that we don’t have neighbors, I think I’m going to enjoy being outside a little bit more.

I’m sure we’ll still get people walking by asking if we can reheat their nachos (I guess), have a cigarette (probably, if Eric has any), or have a beer (this is craft, not Natty Ice, so no), but probably not as frequently. In fact, the day after the fire, I actually sat outside and read a book, UNDISTURBED, for pretty close to three hours.

So, first things first, I need to decide what kind of plants to put in the raised garden. Now that one of the big limbs is out of tree (thank you tree being on fire followed by storm knocking the tree limb into the neighbor’s yard :) ), we might be able to get some non-shade plants going.

We’ve also never had a grill outside, mostly for fear that someone will steal said grill, but I think I’m going to invest in one of those small Weber models:

And then, I think we also need some lawn chairs so we don’t have to sit on the crooked stoop. I like the classic look and colors going on on these lawn chairs.

And lastly, for when I’m sitting outside enjoying refreshing beverages and charred animal flesh while lounging in my lawn chair, I would like the area to have more of a patio feel with decorative lighting. I think I need these:

While it won’t be any Lotusland, it’ll be good enough for me.

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