Debauched, awarded, and floating away

I’m a bit cocktailed up right now. I’ve been in this martini mood lately, even though gin usually makes me ill and vodka is a close second. But I’ve found that I can drink certain vodkas and will occasionally get in the mood for a vodka martini. With 3 jalapeno-stuffed olives.

So here I sit with my second (and last, since that was it for the bottle of Kettle One) martini (a bit too “wet” as I over-shot the mark on the vermouth this time), my laptop, and my iPod playing Death Cab for Cutie through the living room stereo. Is that an intriguing visual for you?

I’m not trying to make myself seem maudlin or pathetic, it’s just a sort of icky day and I can get a bit tipsy in my own house if I want to. That’s a privelage of being an adult.

Neverless, I realize I am being a bit debauched on this Saturday afernoon. So, it’s sort of surpising to me to note that I have a blog award. Yep, I’m awarded.

I love your blog awared

I love your blog awared

Adrienne of Knit and Run bestowed it on me. And I know this is a good thing, however I’m stumped as to how to pay this forward. These type of things are perceived by me as being a few steps away from a chain letter. And I never forward those on, despite the promises that they will make me sprout horns or fall into a barrel of used kitty litter or some other horrible fate if I don’t.

I squirm when these things happen to me because I just can’t think of a way to continue them. I’m supposed to do the following:


  1. Post the award on my blog. (completed)
  2. Add a link to the person who gave you the award. (completed)
  3. Nominate at least 4 others.
  4. Leave a comment on their blog so they can pass it on.

It’s on the last two that I fall apart. I don’t read a lot of blogs. I read just a few, and many on that list are massively read blogs (like Yarn Harlot). I’ve always felt like I simply can’t send on something like this to those blogs because the whole sentiment would be lost. But, what the heck, I’ll do it. ‘Cause having a couple big martinis whilst lounging at home can make one feel pretty bold. So here goes…I nominate:

  • Knitting Curmudgeon. Mar will be so freakin’ pleased and will have no problem taking me to task if my pathetic gesture of admiration fails. She’s a true “tell it like it is” woman and I admire that.
  • Crazy Aunt Purl. I like Laurie’s sense of the absurd and her sense of humor.

And that’s it! Yeah, I know that’s only two blogs, but I just can’t do more than that. Really, you’ll have to give me a pass on this, OK?

After all, we woke up this morning to a heavy rain that apparently had been falling quite steadily for some time. We had a bit of a puddle in the basement, formed by water seeping in from one side of the basement wall. After spending some amount of time mopping/sucking this up, and thereby messing up my appointments for this Saturday morning, we set out to do a few routine errands: purchase dog food and cat litter; visit a store to peruse window coverings (since the dogs and cat had ruined the $$ window coverings in our living already); and, have a bit of breakfast. Instead, we found ourselves stuck in the beginnings of a traffic vortex formed by flooded expressways, highway underpasses, and streets in general. We quickly backtracked and re-adjusted our plans for the weekend.

Chicago has been stuck under a big, wet, storm system for nearly 24 hours now and it will just continue on as the remnants of Hurricane Ike hit our area tomorrow. So, we are prepared for a bit of home-steading: we rented a few DVDs, and we bought a few supplies at the store (coffee and fresh meats). Now, we’re getting ready to get started on having a wild night of DVD watching and hard-drinking. Yeah, I’m sure Noah did the same thing on his ark.

Books, books, books

One of things I”ve been doing more of lately is reading. I’ve always been big into reading, but finding time (and for while there the energy) to read has been difficult at times. In a normal day, I find time to read a few pages of something before I go to sleep, but one doesn’t accomplish much reading this way.

I recently started using the library a lot, though, and this has helped me make time for reading. After all, when you have a book for a limited period of time, you must commit yourself to it.

In my younger, poorer days, I used the library all the time. About every 2 weeks, I’d stop at the beautiful, main library (the Harold Washington Library Center) after work. I’d drop off the books I had finished reading and browse for new books. The library was only open late 2 nights a week, so I had to plan my book excursions carefully. Also, while I could look up books in their online catalog, it was a hit or miss proposition as to whether the book was actually there. And it if wasn’t showing as being there, well, the best I could do to plan for getting the book I wanted was to fill out a hold slip.

This made really using the library to my best advantage a bit cumbersome. As long as I had little money, I would make it work for me. But, as I moved up the income scale, I often found it easier to buy books at the bookstore. Now, though, services have changed for the better in a big way.

First of all, I can not only look up materials in their catalog online, I can place them on hold for pick up at the branch library of my choice. I get an email notification that the item is ready for pick up and am given several days to do so. The branches are open until 9 PM every week night, so it’s not hard to make time to drop by. I can renew the item online, too.

This is a fabulous service, and I am really, really happy to see my tax dollars being used this way! Way to go Chicago Public Library!

So, I’ve been taking good advantage of this service. If I hear about a book that sounds interesting (through a podcast or a friend or a website) I look it up. I have yet to run across a book that is not already in the catalog, and once I locate it I place it on hold. Within a week or two, I get to pick it up and enjoy it.

Obviously, there’s still some planning involved here, but it’s no more complicated than handling a Netflix queue. You just keep placing books on hold and by the time you’re done with one and ready to drop it off, there’s a new one waiting for you to pick up. So neat and efficient it makes me want to squee. Plus, I can get to the local branch library in about 7 minutes on my bicycle, so it’s another reason to get out there and pedal.

I’m usually a big consumer of fiction, but lately I’ve been getting into a mix of stuff. In the past month, I’ve read Twenty Chickens for a Saddle (a memoir about growing up in Botswana which gets a definite thumbs up: a good story that was entertaining and intriguing), The Thyroid Diet (some useful info, but nothing too surprising), and Suite Francaise.

I just finished the last few pages of Suite Francaise today, and I must say that the end material made the book especially poignant. The English translation is very thoughtully put together with a short introduction followed by the two novellas (Storm in June and Dolce), and then some appendices. It’s in the appendices that we get to really connect with the writer herself, Irene Nemirovsky.

After reading just a few pages of the novel, I sampled a few pages from the first appendix, which was derived from her notes on the book. But I quickly realized that it was best to wait until after I had finished the story so I could better understand the characters she mentions and how they fit in. In these notes and in her letters in the following appendix, it is clear that Irene realized that as a foreign-born Jew her position in occupied France was quite tenuous.

The truly heart-breaking part of the book is in Appendix II, which contains personal correspondence relating to Irene’s situation from 1936 through the end of the war. It’s incredibly sad to read the emploring letters of her husband seeking some information on the whereabouts of his wife. Irene was suddenly taken to a concentration camp in July 1942 and was dead one month later. Even worse, her husband is picked up in October 1942 and sent immediately to the gas chamber, leaving their 2 children orphaned and on the run.

The story itself is very compelling and it would have been such an incredible novel in total if she had been able to finish it. It is also sobering. It made me reflect not just on this time period, but also today.

We are so lucky not to have lived through an experience like this, nor to be so threatened. I know today is a day of memorials in this country, but even this most painful experience for our country’s psyche is nothing like living through a war on our own soil, experiencing the depravations, disgrace, and duplicity of living in an occupied country.

August recap

Yeah, I’ve been a bad blogger lately. Mea culpa and all that usual blah-biddy-blah-blah.

This past month has been BUSY, and although I have my energy back for the most part, I sort of turn into a pumpkin by 10:30 PM these days. If I’m not in bed and asleep by then, I am pretty wiped out the next day. So, no big party nights for me.

The busy-ness that’s been keeping me away hasn’t all been about my job, though. I’ve been to the Michigan Fiber Festival with Adrienne and other members of the Windy City Knitting Guild. I also visited City Farm (a 1.5 acre working farm smack dab in the center of Chicago) during an Urban Farm Field day trip organized through Angelic Organics. And, we completed the new chicken palace.

The new chicken run with the Eglus inside.

The new chicken run with the Eglus inside.

Now, we didn’t actually build the thing. I hired a fencing company to do the building because otherwise it would never have been accomplished. Notice how there are two Eglus inside. The happy hens are in the Eglu to the left and the new chicks are in the Eglu to the right. The hens aren’t so happy with the chicks, though. Integrating these two groups has been a bit stressful for me, as the hens have turned into big thugs whenever I open the Eglu run to let the chicks out. I guess it will take a bit of time to make everyone comfortable together.

The chicks continue their amazing rate of growth. They are nearly the same size as the hens, although their sex characteristics (combs and wattles) are not yet developing. Those won’t start to fill out until they are nearly ready to lay, about 3-4 months from now. Although, I think at least one of the chicks won’t ever lay.

The four chicks.

The four chicks.

From left to right across the front row the “chicklets” are: Speedy, Chickie Lou, and Missy. In the back row is Martha. Martha and Chickie Lou are both Easter Eggers (mutt Ameraucana chickens). This breed has pea combs, so I don’t expect their combs to develop into big, red, crowns like the ones on the happy hens or on the white Delawares.

Chickie Lou and Martha both seem to be developing at about the same rate and are noticeably larger than Speedy and Missy. However, Chickie Lou (the brown one in the center) has taken to crowing lately. Yes, that’s right CROWING. There’s no mistaking the sound. Chickie Lou started making these suspicious crowing-like noises a couple weeks ago (at about 7 weeks old), and now the sounds have become definite crowing. I’m still waiting to see what happens here, though. Considering how closely the development of Martha and Chickie Lou match, it’s possible I have 2 roosters on my hands here. Or, I may just have a hen that makes rooster-like noises. (Yes, that does happen.)

Either way, I’m not going to make any rash decisions and will see how the flock develops. I’m not adverse to keeping a rooster, as long as it is not mean and not really, really noisy. I understand that not all roosters are extremely loud and obnoxious.

As for the chicken palace itself, I’m pleased with how it turned out. It’s a bit tighter in there than I’d like with both Eglus inside, but it does the job: the chickens and dogs are safely separated; it provides an additional barrier against the typical predators in this area; and, it allows the chickens a bit more room to stretch their wings while keeping them out of the garden.

The garden has been doing very well this year, and I’ve been challenged to keep up with it. The harvests of eggplants, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, summer squash, and chard have been amazing. I had to rip out the summer squash early due to squash vine borer, and the cucumbers seemed to get a bit bothered by cucumber beetles or the virus they spread. At least the hens REALLY liked the squash vine borer larvae. See, there’s a silver lining after all: no more squash, but lots of tasty eggs.