Case of the Mondays

July 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I had a great weekend but today sure does suck so here’s a picture of a calf that I took on my friend’s farm Saturday:

What are you looking at?

Perhaps I’ll get to update on my trip and more later this week.  If I’m lucky.

Can I retire yet?

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R.I.P. Kurt

April 11, 2011 at 11:14 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Today I’d like to pay a brief homage to Kurt Vonnegut, a writer from my home state of Indiana and someone who, over the years, has given me plenty to think about.  Besides being from The Crossroads of America, Vonnegut also studied anthropology in Chicago so he’s always been on my good side.  He’s also written some fascinating books and has given me more than one idea that I’ve learned from.  Here is his Wikipedia page if you’d like to learn a little more yourself and below are a brief few of my favorite quotes that he’s provided:

  • “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”
  • “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

and my personal favorite:

Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007

Vonnegut’s writing style is unlike just about anything else I’ve ever read and while it’s not for everyone, he resonates with me and has provided me with perspectives on life, death and everything in between that I probably wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere.  I wouldn’t call Kurt Vonnegut my absolute favorite author of all time but I’m quite proud to hail from the same state as he and I hope that one day my writings will also make Indiana proud.

And so it goes.

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Pumpkin Lovin’

October 6, 2010 at 11:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Look what I found!

In walking around this week, I stumbled upon a scene that reminded me of my home sweet home.  Living in the city, I take many things for granted…easy public transportation, the fact that there’s a lot to do at any given time and ample vegetarian friendly restaurants, just to name a few.  There are a few things that I miss about more rural living though…seeing lots of stars at night and hearing animals instead of traffic are among them.  One thing that I didn’t even realize I missed is the abundance of pumpkin patches in the fall.  I grew up not too far from a family farm turned restaurant/winery/pumpkin and apple orchard, and I have many great memories of picking gourds there.  Sadly, there aren’t many places in the city (other than grocery stores) that will allow you to grab a pumpkin.  But I found one!

The above photo was taken a mere few blocks from my apartment.  I was walking home the other night and was drawn to the soft warm glow of artificial light.  My excitement grew as my eyes took in the sight and I instantly felt ten years younger when I realized I could walk through this makeshift pumpkin patch and pick out my own.  There’s even a trailer in the background, to fully complete my Indiana visual.  Sadly, I didn’t have any cash on my that night but I have plans to go back later this week and nab one for carving purposes.  I’ve only ever carved a pumpkin once in my life but all that will change in the next week.  In fact, I didn’t ever carve a pumpkin until I was well into college – we always painted them growing up.  That’s probably because my mom never trusted me with a knife and to be honest I don’t blame her.  I’m not even sure I trust myself, but I’ll sure give it another stab (hahaha I am so punny).  And yes, I will probably blog my finished product.

These are not my feet

I happen to really enjoy the fall and it seems like we’ll actually get one in Chicago this year.  I love the smell of it, which is something I can’t really describe.  Hearing leaves crunch underfoot is nice even if it means walking on the dead carcasses of tree parts, and I like wearing the jackets and scarves I haven’t worn in a while.  This does NOT mean I’m ready for heavy winter coat and boot weather, so hopefully it’ll stay fall-like as long as weatherly possible.  I also like to start baking again, which my air-condition-less, sweltering apartment prohibits me from doing in the summer.  Pecan pies are wonderful even if they are caloric death traps and I might get domestic enough to try to create a pumpkin pie this year as well.  More than anything though, I’m excited to attack a pumpkin with a blade and see what I can come up with!

I’ll just make sure I don’t do it alone, in case I sever something important and need to be escorted to the hospital.  That’s what friends are for, right?

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Road Trip to Indiana

February 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I traveled home this weekend to spend some quality time with my friends and family.  January and February seem to be extremely popular months for women in our family to give birth and so we often get together to celebrate the birthdays all at once.  This year was no exception and we spent Saturday evening having a grand ‘ol time in a private room at a vegetarian-hating place called Beef O’Brady’s.  I resigned myself to the fact that I would be having beer and fried appetizers for dinner and settled down to visit and chat.  One of the first appetizers brought out was chips and queso, and since I’m a bit of a cheese head I was excited to dive right in.  I asked a nearby cousin if the queso had meat (and to her credit, she really didn’t think it did), so I took a bite.  Then I paused, as the bite seemed a bit…well, heavier than it should have been.  I looked at my cousin and asked her again (around my mouth full of queso) and she said she really thought it was okay for me to eat.  After that, I turned around and saw the worried expression on our waitress’ face, and she just shook her head and said she was sorry but it wasn’t vegetarian friendly.  I didn’t want to turn into one of those vegetarians who freak out and go ballistic over a tiny bit of accidentally ingested meat, but I was still beyond grossed out.  I spat out my bite, rinsed my mouth with water and proceeded to drink lots of beer while trying not to focus on what had just happened.  Not so easy when your entire family thinks it’s hilarious and thoroughly enjoy teasing you for it.

Other than that, our dinner was decent.  The room we reserved worked out perfectly because my family is large and loud, and it includes a few small children who love to run around and make a general ruckus.  We’ve learned that keeping us away from the other patrons is usually a good idea.  It also made it easier for us to open presents and cut through the cakes.  Have I mentioned how much I love my birthday?  I especially love celebrating it weeks after the actual day.

After the eating, we all headed to a favorite family hangout – Horseshoe Casino.  Personally, I’m a bit too much of a tightwad to spend large chunks of cash at the casino boat, but the place makes for great people watching.  I had a few beers bought for me by my wonderful aunt and cousin and I managed to hang out and only spend $10 in a three-hour period.  A few other family members had a bit more luck and one cousin in particular walked away with $60 – which may not seem like much but I think leaving with even a dollar more than you started with is something to be proud of.

The people watching at this casino in particular is especially great.  Have you ever been to  Yup, it’s something like that.  I had quite the enjoyable evening sitting and watching others lose their hard-earned money.  After my sister and I tired of the casino (which was about midnight – my mom, aunt and uncle were there until four-thirty in the morning) we headed to her apartment in Louisville (Looavul).  I hadn’t seen her place yet and was quite impressed with the size and quality of her apartment.  It sure beats the house she used to live in where hoards of rats had constant parties in the basement.  An old high school friend of mine ended up coming over since he was in the neighborhood and it was fantastic to see him and catch up.  We all hung out for a while and then it was time to crash.  I even had a bed all to myself, since my sister has my bed from my mom’s house in her spare room.  At least I have my own bed someplace.

The next morning I woke up with a bit of a beer headache and promptly regretted the offer my sister and I made to go babysit my cousin’s three children under the age of five.  I don’t get to spend much time with these kids because they are currently the most popular members of our family, so I was excited for some one on one playtime.  Until the beer headache.  A breakfast at Waffle House helped and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in Playskool toys and dirty diapers.  I don’t know how my cousin handles it every day – the three hours that my sister and I were there was enough to make me consider celibacy for life.  Okay not really.  The kids were actually fun and adorable as hell…it was just a lot of work.  Props to the moms out there, you all must be superhuman.  Or on lots and lots of cocaine.

I was scheduled to return to Chicago on Monday but it started snowing Sunday night and people all over southern Indiana began freaking out about another foot of snow.  I swear, Indiana has had more snow this summer than Chicago.  There were five fresh inches of snow Monday morning and my mom decided she would rather risk being stuck in the snow rather than listen to me bitch about not being able to get back to my apartment, so we headed out into the elements.  She made sure to pack enough food, water and blankets to last us a week in case be became stranded, because my mom is like a boy scout on steroids.  It’s one of the many reasons that I love her.  The drive to Indy usually takes us an hour and a half but yesterday it took us close to three, because people were going so slow.  Fine by me, I didn’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road like this car here.  We counted roughly 27 cars that were stuck in ditches or on the side of the road between Louisville and Indy, plus one overturned semi.  Most of them had already been vacated by their owners but we definitely saw a few that were fresh.  Perhaps it’s not a great idea to drive 70mph in icy, blizzard like conditions?  Just a suggestion.

Eventually, we made it to Indy.  The trip actually reminded me of another winter journey I made a few years ago, only that one involved an extra 6 hours tacked on to my commute and me coming thisclose to eating my cat for survival.  It’s actually a good story, now that I can laugh about it.  Perhaps inspiration for tomorrow’s post?  We shall see.

I believe I’ve talked about the megabus before, seeing as how it’s the transit system that takes me from Illinois to Indiana on a somewhat regular basis.  They were an hour late again picking me up last night and I have come to realize that the megabus customer service department is actually a black hole of endless telephone prompts that will never actually get you anywhere.  I think they make it so difficult to reach a real, live person that you eventually hang up in frustration and contempt.  At least, that’s what I did after sitting on hold for 15 minutes.  By that point the bus finally showed up and I no longer needed their run-arounds.  So a warning to all of you potential megabusers – you get what you pay for.

Thus ends my weekend journey.  As usual, my trip home was filled with lots of family, lots of food and the occasional dear old friend.  I was glad that my mom and I both made it home safely and a delicious pasta dinner made by a cute, funny guy upon my arrival home was a great way to cap the long weekend.

If you’re lucky, tomorrow I will tell my tale of the longest, most horrible road trip I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing.  It involves me urinating in a stranger’s coffee cup on the side of the interstate, so get excited.

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