Summer Recap

October 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve gone without posting since I began posting, way back in the day. I’m sure you’ve missed me and I’ve missed posting too but I’ve just been so damn busy. And I know how lame that sounds because everyone is always busy, all the time, so I need to just get back in habit of writing. Well the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all that jazz but at least I’m posting today, right?

end-summer-5681856-700x325

Wave Goodbye

So what’s been keeping me so busy? Life, basically. I thought things would calm down this year after the whole planning-a-wedding-thing last year but boy was I wrong about that. And just because I love my lists, I’m going to rehash some of the stuff that’s kept me the absolute busiest this year:

  • My dad – I haven’t written much about this here but in January, my sister and I began the process of becoming Power of Attorney for our father and we moved him from Louisiana, where he’d been living with his parents, to Indiana, where he now lives in an assisted living facility. Dad has been having some health issues for a while and can’t exactly live on his own so this was decided to be the best thing for him, because if he moved in with my sister or I we would likely end up killing him and that’s just messy for everyone involved. Anyway, I spent the first few months of the year hiring lawyers, drafting documents and learning everything there is to know about Medicare, Medicaid and “retirement communities”. I also got to dig through dad’s financial and medical records, which was an absolute blast. We eventually found a place for him and moved him in April – he’s settled in fairly well and hasn’t tried to escape yet so I guess that’s all working out for the time being.
  • Speaking of moving, Scott and I moved into a new apartment (which I chronicled in a different post so won’t belabor here). Suffice to say, it kind of sucked.
  • Then I sprained both my ankles, also chronicled in a different post. That also sucked, twice as bad.
  • While I was dealing with the sprains, I was part of a crew at my office helping to move over 1,000 employees into a brand new building. We pulled it off and the new space is great but it wasn’t easy and I’m super glad it’s over.
  • And speaking of work, it’s been keeping me busy in its own right. Right after our office move, I began working for the head of our department as his admin is out on maternity leave. He’s kind of a big deal at the company and she did a lot of other things besides supporting him so I’ve been maintaining her workload and trying not to let things slip through the cracks. Her job alone is a full-time gig but since I’m a crazy person, I’ve also been doing the following:
    • Co-created our newest business resource group, called Pride Alliance. It’s to support the LGBTQ+ employees and allies in our firm and also enhance our recruiting and retention efforts, employee culture and community engagement initiatives. We officially launched with a big Open House in August and have our next event this week, for National Coming Out Day. It’s been extremely rewarding to be a part of all this but also just a little time-consuming.
    • Along with the Pride Alliance, I’m also now on the Board for our business resource groups and have attended trainings, seminars, and most recently a photo shoot (insert eye roll here) to help promote and inform about what we’re doing for the firm.
    • I also organized and led five different offsite volunteering events for employees at local Chicago Public Library branches this summer and we helped give out hundreds of thousands of free books to thousands of Chicagoland kids – this was seriously one of the highlights of my summer, even though it kept me seriously busy.
  • In a very exciting turn of events, everything I’ve been involved with at work led to a promotion! I feel like I’ve been working almost two jobs for a while now and while I won’t begin my new position at the firm until the beginning of November, I’m very excited to be moving into community engagement full time. The hours will be longer but the work will be more gratifying and while I’m a little nervous and intimidated to begin the position, I’m also pretty pumped!
  • Travel:
    • Now that Dad is living closer to my sister and my mom, there are more people for me to visit everyone when I travel back to Indiana, which I’ve done a few times this summer and will be doing again this weekend for a family wedding. Not going to lie – it’s challenging to see everyone I want to see and spend time with all my loved ones and it’s also pretty awkward taking dad along to family functions full of his ex-in-laws, but it’s better than nothing. I guess. My mom and her entire side of the family have been great with all of this and for that I’m really thankful – it’s all been hard enough without having family drama making things worse.
    • Scott and I did manage to take a long weekend trip to Colorado and it was rejuvenating, invigorating and just what the doctor ordered. Of course, it feels like eons ago now but we had a great time and would love to go back.
    • I’ve also hosted some people at our new place this summer – my two best high school girlfriends came to town, as did my mom and my best college friends – thankfully, not all at the same time.
    • I went to Louisiana last weekend to help go through and pack up my grandparent’s house, as they just moved into an assisted living facility as well. Looks like Thanksgiving will be pretty different this year.
  • In addition to everything I’ve mentioned, I’m still doing my volunteer thing at the pantry and the Field Museum (where I’m currently writing a public tour), Scott’s sister had a baby so I’m an Aunt again, Scott got accepted to and started the food science and nutrition program at UIC that he’s been working to get into for years, and we adopted a kitten named Scout (because we don’t have enough going on). The Dude and Scout seem to get along for the most part but I’ve decided that if having kids is anything like having a kitten, it’ll be a long while before I procreate.
  • Lastly, I’ve been dealing with everything above with the horror of a Trump presidency looming over every single thing in my life. Seriously, the administration is a shit-show and I’m surprised and saddened that it’s lasted this long. I’m still making my calls, sending my emails and raging my rage but it’s hard not to feel exhausted when we’re constantly having to demand that our rights be kept safe. Also the threat of nuclear war within reach of a small-handed, small-minded, racist bigot is just a little concerning. Honestly, some days I feel lucky to just get out of bed.

Ok, I think that’s a good summary of what’s been going on with me over the last few months. This has been written with the intention of not going another two months before writing again! But again, remember what I said about good intentions…

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Sweet Home Chicago 

August 18, 2015 at 3:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Ah yes, the Windy City.

I took this picture while sitting on an outdoor patio with Scott, his sister and her boyfriend. It was taken last Saturday, which was a gorgeous afternoon and we were enjoying some great beer and great company. I’m posting this here so I can look back in the upcoming months and remind myself why I live where I do. I know we’ve still got some summer left but I also know the cold, hard truth.

Winter is coming.

But not yet! And I’m going to soak up as much sun (and patio beer) as I possibly can, while I can. It’s what helps me hibernate, after all!

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Summer Time Fun Time

June 1, 2015 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Is a slow summer full of weekends with nothing to do other than laying around at the beach only available in dreams and movies? Not that I’m complaining – everything I’ve got going on this summer is super fun and none of it involves wearing a bridesmaid dress (like I spent so much of my time last summer doing) so I am STOKED! Here’s a rundown, basically so I can try to get my own ducks in a row:

  • My sister and her bf came to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend and we spent the entire time walking all through various neighborhoods, enjoying the park and a music festival, water taxi-ing to Chinatown and doing lots of eating and drinking. So that was that weekend.
  • Last weekend I headed to my hometown with Scott so I could watch my goddaughter be baptized (actually, I guess there was some participation on my end involved in that…who knew I had to buy a gift?!) and we were also able to put a deposit down on the venue for our wedding next year. So that’s happening! Please note it did not entail wearing a bridesmaid dress. Also please note how ironic it will be for this agnostic to take part in a ritualized Catholic ceremony. Apparently my whole family was surprised when I didn’t burst into flame, so I’ve got that going for me.
  • This weekend Scott and I will be flying to Louisiana to visit my dad, who’s been dealing with some health stuff and could use the company. Hopefully we’ll get to see lots of family and go on a swamp tour. Wow, that sentence certainly can’t be said for many places.
  • The second weekend in June is so far the slowest one I’ve got on the books, so maybe we’ll be crazy and go camping. Or just watch Jurassic World on repeat as it opens that weekend.
  • The weekend after that is the 30th annual Greater Chicago Hunger Walk and it’s a huge event that raises money for many food pantries, including the one I’m a part of. Let me know if you want to participate because we can use all the supporters we can get!
  • The last weekend in June we’ll be hosting a friend of mine from high school, as she’s coming up for the U2 concert and decided to make a long weekend out of it.
  • The following weekend is the 4th of July and my mom will be crashing on the couch as per her usual summer holiday visit.
  • THEN OH MY GOD I HAVE TWO WHOLE WEEKENDS TOTALLY FREE WHATEVER SHALL I DO? Oh wait that’s still two months out. Surely they’ll be filled by then.
  • The last weekend in July will be spent in Texas at a cousin’s wedding. Bring on the free booze!

Obviously this isn’t true.

 

And that’s basically where I’m at because my mind can’t even process something like another month of summer. Anything in August is just going to have to wait, because all that’s listed above are solely weekend activities. There’s no mention of the various things I’ve got going on during the week because my head might explode. But luckily I still have my trusty planner to help me keep it all sorted out!

 

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Holy Crap It’s August

August 5, 2014 at 8:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Where did the summer go?  I mean, besides being sucked up by weddings and work and rain, that is.  Seriously, the weather this year has been the most un-summer like summer I’ve ever experienced – my air conditioning hasn’t been on in weeks!  Not that I’m complaining (and my wallet SURELY isn’t complaining) but I guess after the winter we had I was longing for some heat and sunshine.  Instead we’ve had mild temperatures and lots of rain.

Camping not glamping

Perhaps I’m extra bitter because I had plans to go to the beach yesterday – which was rained out – and then plans to go to see live music in Millennium Park tonight – and they’ve been rained out too.  I suppose it doesn’t help matters that my sister and her boyfriend flew to the Dominican Republic on this week for a vacation chock FULL of sunshine and sand…and I’m staring at gray skies and wearing a light sweater.  Oh, bother.

I won’t let it get me down though!  I’m going to try to see the live music in the park on Friday instead and this weekend looks nice enough that I might actually get to go camping.  Yay, camping!  I’ve had a serious urge to spend some time near a bonfire in the woods since like the middle of winter and I’m going to make it happen, just wait and see

.  I’ve got a new hammock, a tent and a big bottle of wine so I should be all set!

If only the weather cooperates, that is.  And if it doesn’t I’m going to pitch my tent in my living room, roast marshmallows over my oven and hang my hammock up between a couple of lamps.  Take that, Mother Nature!

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Enjoying Summer While it Lasts

August 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Indoor Bonsai

Indoor Bonsai

Those lazy hazy days of summer aren’t quite gone yet and I’m trying to take advantage of the warm weather for as long as I possibly can.  This weekend, I definitely succeeded!  My Friday night started off with happy hour drinks with some coworkers as one of the IT guys is moving to a new job and Friday was his last day.  A few beers and a shot or two later, I was ready for the rest of the weekend.  I met Scott near Millennium Park and the two of us met with some friends of ours, who happened to have their two adorable children in tow.  We made our way to the Pritzer Pavillion and caught some of the free classical music being performed while we enjoyed some snacks on the grassy seating area.  The kids ran (or crawled) around and the adults got a chance to visit, which was really nice.  Sidenote: it’s weird to refer to myself and my friends as “the adults”.  Anyway, after the concert we hung out at their condo for a little longer before making our way home sweet home.

Saturday we woke up uncharacteristically early and went to brunch at a place neither of us had ever had before.  It was amazing and will have its own blog post dedicated to it later this week.  After brunch, we ran a few errands then basically spent the rest of the afternoon lying around at the park.  I got through some more of my book (which was also amazing and will also warrant its own post sometime soon) and Scott played around with a soccer ball like a little kid.  It was a beautiful day and the first Saturday in months where I didn’t something planned.  I could do with more Saturdays like that.  We ended the evening by finally finishing The Karate Kid which was pretty great in all it’s 80’s glory.

Sunday I woke up and went to the gym, then we headed to the Chicago Botanic Gardens a little north of the city.

The Bonsai Trees were especially appropriate after our Karate Kid watching

The Bonsai Trees were especially appropriate after our Karate Kid watching

The Gardens are actually close to where I used to live in the ‘burbs but I didn’t go there near as much as I should’ve back then.  This place is huge and has all sorts of different sculpted gardens.  There was a Bonsai Tree show going on which we got to check out, then we walked through the Rose Garden and the Japanese Tree Garden.  We walked through a bunch of other trails and paths too but there was too much plant life to completely remember it all.  We weren’t the only ones with this idea and the place was pretty busy, with families and kids darting around and even a wedding taking place at one spot.   It was another just plain fabulous day and I was really glad we got to spend so much of it enjoying the great outdoors.

I gave Scott a grow-your-own-Bonsai-tree back at Christmas and while the seed produced a tiny little tree-like thing, it hasn’t grown at all for months.  We’re not sure if it has something to do with the tree itself or our sneaky little cat who likes to nibble on plant edges but for whatever reason, it’s been stunted for a while.  Scott found some super cheap soil at the Bonsai show that will hopefully help his little tree to flourish, though I guess only time will tell.  But if the apple tree that I planted in elementary school can start producing fruit nearly twenty years later, then I have hopes his Bonsai Tree can make a comeback.

And yes, that happened with the apple tree in my mom’s front yard.  Gotta love nature!  And I will, as long as the weather permits!

 

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A Walk in the Park

May 20, 2013 at 10:26 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

We had a weekend full of beautiful weather and Scott and I decided to cap it off with a picnic dinner in the park last night.  We made sandwiches and brought along lots of fruits and veggies, then settled in to people watch and enjoy our food.  Little did we know that we’d be entertained with dinner and a show!

Dinner

Dinner

Show

Show

I know the pictures aren’t of the highest quality, but that’s what I get for taking them with my cell phone.  You can see that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the great evening and we watched a group of people? friends? wannabe cheerleaders? perform various jumps, cartwheels and maneuvers for a good portion of our meal.  One person would kind of crouch while another jumped onto their knees to be thrown into the air.  We never did figure out of they were practicing for some sort of improv group or what but they sure were entertaining to watch.  Not much later, we turned to the right and saw two guys tying a line up tightly between two trees.  Scott joked that maybe they would be tightrope walking while I thought perhaps they were preparing for some sort of jumping contest so I was pretty surprised when they proved Scott right.

Yup, these guys were walking on the bungee type line they hung up.  Only it wasn’t a bungee cord, rather it was a strap used to tie stuff down with.  I’m sure it’s got a proper name but I don’t know what it is.  Anyway, one of the guys was clearly better at tightrope walking than the other but they both managed to put a little distance on the thing, alternating between taking steps and falling off in ways that would help them not completely rack themselves.  We watched in amusement for a while and agreed that it looked pretty difficult.  As we started packing up to make our way home, they actually called out to us and told us we couldn’t leave without at least giving it a try.  Since I had already mentioned to Scott that I wanted to attempt it myself, I tied my skirt around my knees and ran on over.  The guys introduced themselves as Andy and Chainsaw (yes, he said his name was Chainsaw…I figured it was best to leave it at that) and Andy offered his shoulder to me as he explained the best way to try to stand on the rope.  So I tried it a few times and yup, it was hard.  As in, I didn’t even get to stand fully straight without falling off to one side.  I attempted it a few times then had a bad vision of me falling with my skirt over my head so I decided to give it a break.  Scott tried a few times too and while he stood straighter than I did, neither of us actually managed to take a step forward.  So I had a completely new-found respect for both Andy and Chainsaw.

We chatted a few more minutes then made our way home, but not before agreeing to try again should we ever come across each other in the park in the future.  Apparently they do this for fun and are not training for any upcoming circus as I previously thought.  Chainsaw had only tried to balance two other times before and so I told myself that if I tried a bit more often I could be walking it like he did.  So maybe next time I go to the park, I’ll wear a pair of shorts under my skirt just in case!

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Yes. It’s Hot.

July 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Not to jump on the bandwagon but I’m totally going to jump on the bandwagon.  Chicago is among the countless other cities breaking records this week with heat that’s oppressively, searingly bad.  I’m thankful I work in an office and not the unconditioned third floor of some random building (coughmypoorboyfriendcough) and I KNOW how lucky I am to have central AC at home, but when it’s 90 degrees at 10:30pm and you feel like you’re swimming in the humidity as you walk along the sidewalks, it’s just too damn hot.  It doesn’t help that the little bit of rain we’ve had only steams everything up even more before all too quickly disappearing into thin air.

So. Hot.

I’ve tried thinking cold thoughts but ice cubes melt and polar bears are dying so that gets sort of depressing.  I’ve heard some fellow commuters longing for a good Chicagao-style blizzard and I have to say that actually sounds good right about now.  Not that we had one last winter for me to compare it to or anything but I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from.  This heat sucks and I’m about over feeling like I have to shave my legs more than once a week.  And yes, I know it’s summer and we should expect this but come on.  We had maybe 5 days all summer last year that got into the 90’s and we’ve been in the 100’s all week.  And it’s nowhere near August yet.

It’s supposed to break later this weekend and we’ll all be welcoming the 80’s with open arms.  In the meantime, I’m going to drink as much water and cold beer as I can before my bladder explodes and then try to avoid standing in direct sunlight (or hell, even moonlight).  I hope you and yours are able to find some relief and don’t forget to check on elderly neighbors, family members and pets (of all ages).  Also, try not to think about your next AC bill because that’ll do nothing but cause you to break out in another unwanted sweat.

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When Life Hands You Lemons

June 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I walked through my neighborhood on Sunday to go visit a nearby friend and as I did, I encountered something I don’t think I’ve seen since I moved to Chicago.  A lemonade stand.  Did I suddenly get transported to Mayberry?

Awwww

If you look closely, you’ll see a tiny table set up at the end of this sidewalk (which was as close as I could get for a photo without feeling like a creep).  Two little boys sat there and while one was too young to do any talking, the older kid happily told me that I was the first person to walk by their stand since they set it up.  Of course, that meant I had to buy a drink though the fact that it was like 90 outside certainly helped.  I was lucky I actually had some cash on me as I very rarely do and I actually doubled their fee of .50 by letting them keep the change from my dollar.  They had two flavors to choose from and like a true salesman, the little boy told me they were both delicious when I asked which was best.  He then proceeded to pour my drink himself, even though the pitcher was nearly as big as he was.  I offered to help but he insisted and in the end he didn’t spill a drop, though my cup was only filled about a third of the way.  Better than nothing!

While I was being served, a woman driving a car was passing and by the time I left the stand, she had pulled over and was walking over for some lemonade herself.  The couple in lawn chairs in the foreground of the photo were the little boys’ parents and we chatted for a minute before I went on my way.  Their mom thanked me for being a good sport and said again that I was their first customer – I told her that it made my day and I was glad to help.  I never had a lemonade stand of my own because something like 4 cars would drive down my street in any given week but I did once have one at a friend’s house.  I hope these kids made more than we did because times are tough and they could be saving for a car.  Or their first mortgage.  Regardless, I hope they made a bit of cash and had a lot of fun.  And if they set up shop again, I also hope that they remember to add sugar to their lemonade.

 

 

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Wide World of Weekends

June 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This was the first weekend in the last few that I wasn’t traveling, so I was really looking forward to hanging around the apartment and enjoying the summer that this city has to offer.  I was not disappointed.  Friday evening found Scott and I at Ericks Tacos, a BYOB Mexican place conveniently located both near our apartment and a liquor store.  A friend of mine and her fiancée met us there as they just got the keys to their brand new condo, which they recently bought (man my friends are so grown up).  Their new place is just  few blocks from our own and we got the grand tour after stuffing ourselves with burritos and guacamole.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of their two rooms, various closets, working fireplace and huge back porch but I know I’ll be over there hanging out often enough that I’ll be able to take advantage of it too (well, maybe not their closets).  Next year Scott and I will probably move to something a little more spacious but until then a girl can dream, right?

I got to sleep in on Saturday and then headed to the Field Museum, where I had training for the newest exhibit entitled Extreme Mammals.  It was really interesting and if you’re lucky, I’ll talk a bit more about it later this week.  It was a gorgeous day and as I walked into the museum I passed a cluster of tents in nearby Grant Park, but I didn’t really know what was going on.  There are festivals and such down there all the time so I figured I could check it out after my stint in the museum, but everything was taken down by the time I left.  I later found out that the first annual Veggie Pride Parade was taking place and of course I kicked myself for missing such a vegetarian-centered event.  I really don’t know what it even consisted of but I imagine there was lots of vegetarian friendly food, clothing and such and I’ll be damned if I miss it again next year.  Perhaps one day I can win Ms. Veggie Head, or something like that.

After my training, Scott and I headed to a nearby neighborhood where the annual Mayfest was taking place.  Mayfest is a huge German celebration featuring live music, food and lots and lots of beer (seriously – I think the stat I heard was that they floated a keg every 10 minutes or so).  I went a couple of years ago with some friends and had a blast but I don’t remember it being so godforsaken crowded.  Perhaps I’m becoming more anti-social in my old age?  I don’t know about that but I do know that there was barely room to breathe and I got very close to having a big problem with a super tall dude who didn’t seem to realize that his elbow was in my face while we were waiting to get more beer.  He’s lucky I’m swift and was able to duck and dodge appropriately.  I had a stein and a half full of some beer I can’t pronounce and it was delicious, as were the pretzels and slice of cake I also indulged in.  We were going to try to see a midnight showing of The Ghostbusters at The Music Box Theater but after the booze and food, I was ready for my couch once again.

Mmm beer…

Sunday I got to sleep in some more (and for someone who hasn’t managed this in what feels like an eternity, it was very much appreciated) then we decided to hit the beach, as the weather was warm and sunny once again.  This was my first trek to the beach so far this year and we were not the only ones out there taking advantage of the nice day.  People were having picnics as kids ran in the water but Scott and I simply enjoyed the sunshine on a blanket with our books.  Then, after saving some plastic bags for a dire fate in Lake Michigan and breaking up a fight over parking in the lot, we went to what could now be my new favorite place to grab a bite to eat – Vegetarian Express.

Yup, this is where I learned of the wonderous Veggie Pride Parade.  This place serves up salads, sandwiches, soups, panini’s, juices and shakes and it’s basically a vegetarian’s dream come true.  I had a soy bacon/cheese/tomato panini and Scott had a seitan roasted sandwich, both of which were delicious.  Seriously, I think even regular meat-eaters would approve.  This was all served with fresh sweet potato fries and we also ordered some homemade guacamole after seeing it being devoured at the tables next to us.  We ate all this around 3pm and I didn’t really eat dinner because I was still so darn stuffed.  The only downside to this place is that they don’t deliver right to my front door.

All in all, this weekend was one that helped me fall in love with Chicago all over again.  It also got me more than ready for an entire summer full of beach days and street fests, not to mention good eats and of course, cold beer.  This is the stuff that helps me get through the winter and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can!

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Let the Summerfests Begin!

June 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I love Chicago summerfests.  Streets sectioned off so people can stand around, drink booze, listen to music, eat fried foods and check out local vendors…how does it get any better than that?

On Sunday, my two aforementioned friends who were visiting for the weekend decided to take another friend of mine, whose birthday it happened to be, to the festival in a neighborhood just blocks from my own.

You may not see me, but I was there

Andersonville is a ‘hood I haven’t had much time to yet check out so this was the perfect opportunity to play in the street and learn more about where I now live.  We wandered through cute clothing, antique, toy, kitchen and jewelery shops as we wove through the vendors and food booths and even the crowds of people, dogs and strollers didn’t get in our way.  We got lucky and the weather was the nicest day of the weekend so the huge cookie dough sundae that the Birthday Girl and I split was easily enjoyed.  As was the sangria, fried pickle spears, sweet potato fries, beer and falafel.  Not that I tried all of that….okay who am I kidding.  Of course I did.  It’s not like this is the time of year I should be worried about fitting into a swimsuit or anything.

Oh wait.

Anyway, the festival made me appreciate once again my newer, better living locale.  I thought about going to this fest last year but it would’ve required 2 bus rides and 45 minutes of my precious time just to get there.  A short not-even ten minute walk was so, so much better.  Just makes me even more excited to wander all over this place during the next few months and see what the other streetfests have to offer!

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