Tuesday, May 31, 2022


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? Bury the Lead by David Rosenfelt. A serial killer is preying on women around Passaic. The killer has chosen to "communicate" through a crime reporter, giving messages exclusively to one specific journalist. This is a double-edged sword. The struggling newspaper  the reporter works for has enjoyed a sudden spike in sales, but the paper has legal exposure. So Andy Carpenter to protect is hired to protect the paper's interest, and he finds himself embroiled in the case.

Andy is a defense attorney and a newly-minted millionaire. He's also a smart ass, a dog lover and a rabid sports fan, which means I kind of have a crush on him. I am enjoying this book, as I did the other two in the series.

2. What did you just finish reading? First Ladies: The Ever-Changing Role from Martha Washington to Melania Trump by Betty Boyd Caroli. Every First Lady (and a few White House hostesses) gets a thumbnail sketch. The book is 500 pages long, which makes it author Betty Boyd Caroli's challenge to represent each woman fairly while still holding the reader's interest. I appreciate how difficult that must be. However I have gripes with how the First Ladies I'm most familiar with -- Mary Lincoln and Jacqueline Kennedy -- were handled. Without the context of the tragedies they faced (both buried a child while living in the White House), their behavior could be judged in too harsh a light.

Still, Ms. Caroli is a good storyteller and this book is entertaining. I learned a great deal. Ida McKinley turned out to be more interesting than I ever knew, and I wish someone would give Pat Nixon the objective, comprehensive biography she deserves.

3. What will you read next? I don't know.



Sunday, May 29, 2022

Normally baseball makes me happy

I had games in my headphones all day. First Yankees/Rays, then Cubs/White Sox. Three of those teams look really good on paper. (Don't make me be disloyal and admit which one doesn't.) Yet both of these games were sloppy and weird as shit. 

It isn't just that both teams I cheer for lost. It's the hit by pitches, the player interference calls, the strike outs with players left on base ... the hot mess of it all.

Two games 1200 miles apart. It can't be the weather or something in the air. Maybe it's the baseball gods. They were hungry and demanded sacrifice.

I can see by Anthony Rizzo's reaction to striking out that I am not alone in my frustration.

Sometimes I do good

One of her first photos here
When I adopted Constance MacKenzie 8 years ago, she was not in good shape. Her gums were bloody, her breath was terrible and her eyes were so light sensitive she had trouble keeping them open. She had been living with a well-meaning hoarder who loved cats but couldn't give them adequate care. 

It took us a while, but she's healthy now. First we went though medication. Then we added Lysine to each of her meals. She's on a special diet and now gets regular doses of pumpkin to help with constipation. 

Bright eyes!
While I can take credit for staying the course in terms of her care, Connie brought her lovely spirit with her. In 8 years, I have never seen her display temper.* She is affectionate with me but, even better, she is a cat's cat. She slept curled up beside my big old tub of guts, Joey. She engaged Reynaldo in daily play. These days, she grooms Roy Hobbs and makes sure his white stays white.

She has enriched my life enormously and I'm proud I have been able to give her the care she deserves. Adopt, don't shop. And if there's a special needs dog or cat at the shelter that touches your heart, don't shy away. You can do it.

*Although she does mightily resist nail clipping, it's with squirming, never kicking or biting or hissing.

Happy Birthday to My Favorite C Student

I posted this last year, and I'm posting it again because it makes me smile.

In honor of his May 29 birthday, I give you John F. Kennedy's 7th grade report card.

Known as "a prankster" (aka "smart ass"), he could be disruptive in class. Throughout his academic career, teachers commented that he was "charming" and "clever," but none of his report cards was cause for celebration. He was, at best, an undistinguished student until he got to Harvard, where he graduated cum laude. Actually his college grades weren't so hot, either. His senior thesis, however, was outstanding, received a magna, and that high honor put him over.

As a solid C student myself, I love this very, very much. Some of us turn out OK. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Sunday Salon

I'm a little in love.  His name is Andy Carpenter. He's a defense attorney in New Jersey. He's got money, millions he just recently inherited, and that gives him the freedom to only take cases he believes in. He's also got baggage: an ex-wife. He has a smart mouth and a rebellious streak that gets him in trouble at times but endears him to me. Best of all, he's into rescuing and re-homing shelter dogs and can't go very long without mentioning his golden retriever, Tara.

Andy is the creation of David Rosenfelt, the centerpiece of a series of legal thrillers. I just started Book #3 in a series of 26 and counting. I enjoy them as much for Andy as I do for the courtroom drama. 

Before Andy there was Archie Goodwin. I had a mad crush on him. I know what Archie did for a living, but I'm not sure what to call his occupation. He worked for genius detective Nero Wolfe as ... appointment secretary, bookkeeper, and private investigator. He was as smart as he was versatile. Next to his photographic memory, his greatest gift was annoying people in positions of power. I loved how he genuinely loved women and could find something attractive in just about every female he met -- her shapely ankle or turned up nose or maybe a note he hears in her voice or an intelligence in her eyes. I wondered how he would describe me. 

Rex Stout gave me Archie. Robert Goldsborough took over the Nero Wolfe series in the 1980s and for the most part has maintained Archie's integrity and attitude.

Both Andy and Archie love baseball. I love baseball. Sigh.

What about you? Are there any characters from a continuing series that you especially enjoy spending time with?

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Sunday Stealing

1. Who was the last attractive person you saw? 

Older but still handsome as all get out.

2. Do you have a tattoo? If not, are you going to get one? No and no.

3. Have you smoked a cigarette in the last 24 hours? I have never smoked anything.

4. Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance? Yes.

5. What is your favorite number? 7

6. What time did you go to sleep last night? I truly don't recall. Sometime between 10:00 and midnight.

7. Are you one of those people that always answer their phones? Unless I know it's spam.

8. If you died today would your life be complete? Well, yeah. Because it would be over. I'm sorry, but I'm not philosophical about these things.

9. If you are being extremely quiet, what does that mean? I'm asleep or dead. 

I am she and she is me.

10. Do you know what high school your dad went to? Yes. He recalled their most popular school cheer was: LTHS! Ooo ah! We're the best!

11. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach? Flying home from Los Angeles. Air travel always upsets me.

12. Where is your cell phone? Charging on the kitchen counter.

13.  What is the nearest purple thing to you? The cover of a notepad that's right over there.

14. When did you last step outside? What were you doing? I went out for a slice of pizza. It's such a beautiful day. I didn't want to go back indoors.

15. What is the last thing you watched on TV? The Cubs game. We won!



Still feeling hopeful

My dear friend Henry remains at a medical center that specializes in "behavioral health." Aka the looney bin. His 72-hour, legally-mandated stay began at 9:45 Wednesday night. So under normal circumstances, he should be released tonight. But he won't be. Between the weekend and the Memorial Day holiday, he will likely remain a patient until Tuesday morning. 

Thinking of him there, frightened and confused and angry, was breaking my heart. But his husband, Reg, reports that while Henry is lonely and like ET, tries to phone home constantly, he is comfortable and NOT insisting on being released. While it would be a stretch to say Henry likes being in this medical facility, he is not trying to escape, as he has when hospitalized in the past (first after his accident, then after a series of seizures caused by his TBI). This is not what Reg was expecting. A compliant Henry who is not fighting the doctors scares Reg. Not me. What Reg sees as Henry drifting away from us, I see as Henry cooperating with his own care. 

I have spent many therapy sessions talking about Henry with my own shrink. Usually in the context of how I'm handling all this. I love Henry very much and I feel helpless. Anyway, she supports my optimism. Henry's mental fog is definitely caused by the TBI, but it's been exacerbated by lifestyle choices that have left him depleted physically and emotionally. Since April 2021, when he lost his job at the library, Henry has indulged in too much alcohol and his days have not had enough structure. He hasn't received regular MRIs (or any MRIs) and his medications have not been calibrated for his changing condition. He's dehydrated. He's weak. He may have a UTI. 

I also suspect that his hearing and vision aren't what they could be. After all, he's 59 and these things begin to fade. Since he doesn't drive, he hasn't had his eyes or ears checked in years. I wonder if his sense of isolation and frustration isn't made worse by not only having a TBI but also compromised sight and hearing. 

So now he's spending almost a week in the hospital, getting the care I believe he should have been getting all along. He will be dried out and monitored. He'll have an MRI and his treatment will be adapted. 

I'm not stupid. I know this might break the other way. I also understand that even if Henry gets a positive prognosis, he's looking at an intensive outpatient program and then months, maybe years, of therapy.

That's OK. I'm buckled in. I'm staying with Henry as long as this takes. Whatever this takes.


Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: America, the Beautiful (1987)

Unfamiliar with Barbra Streisand's recording of this tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. 

1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. War memorials, as well as graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers this weekend in a show appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood? Here's one from Chicago's River Walk that often gets overlooked by tourists on their way to an outdoor cafe or kayak rental. Behind the fountain are the names of the 3,000 Illinois kids who died in Vietnam. It's enough to break your heart, isn't it?

Chicago Remembers Those We Lost in Vietnam

2) Here at Saturday 9, we regard everyone who served -- veterans and active military -- as heroes. Have you, or has anyone in your family, worn the uniform of our armed forces? We want to hear about them. 
•  My dad was a Navy corpsman during the Korean conflict. He learned how to apply and then carefully remove butterfly stitches. I was always proud when he saved one of the neighborhood kids a trip to the ER after a playground scrape. 
•  My favorite uncle was an Army PFC in Vietnam. While he was over there, he donated his time to an orphanage in Saigon. Oh yeah, and he was exposed to Agent Orange and rewarded with myriad health problems, resulting in his early death at age 69. The Veterans Administration was a dismal disappointment. George W. Bush was President while my uncle was getting the runaround, so don't tell me that because a politician has an R after his name he supports the troops. I know better. My uncle has been gone 12 years now, and I'm still angry.

3) Memorial Day is the traditional kick off of the summer season. Have you packed away your winter clothes yet? I will this weekend. Honest.

4) What's your favorite picnic food? Potato salad.

5) As you answer these questions, is there a fan or an air conditioner cooling your room? At this very moment, no. But I've seen the weather report and am confident I will go from fan to a/c by Monday.

6) Lyricist Katharine L. Bates said she was inspired to write "America, the Beautiful" after a trip to Pike's Peak. What's the most beautiful spot in America that you have ever visited? It's hard to pick one. As a nation, we're so blessed! However, as a proud Illinois girl who loves our favorite-most favorite son, I'll go with this view.

It's beautiful, and of course, he deserves no less

7) Though we're talking summer this morning, Santa is going to get a shoutout. Before "America, the Beautiful" was published, Katharine L. Bates wrote a poem called, "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh" which is remembered for introducing Santa's wife, Mrs. Claus. Share a fond memory of the 2021 holiday season. I had Christmas lunch with Henry, Reg and Patrick at Key West's Bistro 245. Wasn't the view lovely?

That's the Gulf of Mexico

8) This week's featured artist, Barbra Streisand, sang "America, the Beautiful" during a benefit concert. She admitted to James Corden that she suffers from stage fright and before she performs, she prays, "Let go, let God." What's something that scares you, but that you do anyway? Air travel.

9) Question for a weekend when many of us will sleep in: Are you a morning person? Less with each passing year.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Ride into the Danger Zone

Go see Top Gun: Maverick. At the theater and on the biggest screen you can find. It's great fun from the very beginning, where Tom Cruise (as Tom Cruise) thanks us for coming to the theater to see his movie (a nice touch) to Lady Gaga's love song at the end. It's not high art, but it made me smile.

It's one of those movie that is really very predictable, but it's not annoying, it's comforting because the action unfolds exactly the way you want it to.

Tom Cruise is great. He's older but still gorgeous, and you can't take your eyes off him. Yes, I know that he's not exactly forward thinking in terms of mental health, and there's the whole couch-jumping thing.* But oh, onscreen he has charisma to burn and his Top Gun movie is a top-quality product.

And who doesn't want to kick off Memorial Day watching Navy pilots behave heroically?

 *In retrospect, maybe we made too big a deal out of the couch-jumping thing. I mean, have you caught any of the Johnny Deep-Amber Heard trial?

Two down, three to go

For reasons too complicated -- and boring -- to explain, I'm back to writing automotive blog posts again. While I don't hate them as much as I once did, it would be a long stretch to say I enjoy this monthly project. As one who hasn't driven since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, it's safe to say I have no affinity whatsoever for anything auto, and it can be slow going.

I had been especially worried about this month's assignment. The client was running late and didn't think he would get us the information needed for the 5 posts by today, after we're closed for Memorial Day. They have to be done by end of day, June 8. That looks like it gives me 6 work days to do the 5 posts, but actually it's 4 days because of meetings and unnecessary, extraneous office shit. (After 40 years, I have dwindling patience with unnecessary, extraneous office shit.)

I admit I was stressing.

My client is a good guy* and managed to surprise us (and himself) by getting me the info for three of the five in dribs and drabs throughout this past week. This process wasn't pretty, and his input isn't as organized as usual, but I appreciate the extra effort. A lot. I managed to get two of the five done by the time we began the four-day holiday weekend.

Also, my ever-so eager coworker Rita thinks she can help next week. I don't know that the timing will work out, but knowing she's on deck helps alleviate some of the stress.

So I woke up this morning not because of the alarm but because nature was calling. And I'll only open that desktop automotive work file if I feel like it, not because it's hanging over me like the Sword of Damocles.

Happy Memorial Day to me!

*I like my clients more than I respect the agency personnel I work for. I'm so lucky I work for two clients who have integrity and regard for what I do.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Gov. Abbott should just shut up about Chicago

And here's why: 3 of 5 traceable guns recovered by Chicago police come from other states. Including his beloved Texas.

Yes, my city is awash with guns. I have written about it many times. But using Chicago as an example of why gun laws don't work is ingenuous and, from Abbott, it's ugly.

If we had uniform national gun laws, or if the governors of Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas behaved responsibly, guns from their states wouldn't be flooding Illinois.

So Tuesday morning, when you hear the grim weekend gun violence stats from Chicago, spend a second to wonder where those guns came from. And ask yourself why Gov. Abbott feels it's tasteless and sick to "use" the death of young Texans for political gain, but he's cool with exploiting our grief.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #259

The 13 most successful movies. I love movies. I love lists. So I love this movie list. It's adjusted for inflation (after all, in 1939, moviegoers paid 25¢ a piece to see Gone with the Wind), and includes income from network TV, DVDs, and streaming services. 

1. Gone with the Wind (1939)

2. Star Wars (1977)

3. The Sound of Music (1965)

4. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

5. Titanic (1997)

6. The Ten Commandments (1956)

7. Jaws (1975)

8. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

9. The Exorcist (1973)

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

11. Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens (2015)

12. 101 Dalmations (1961)

13. Star Wars: Episode V -- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This list is as of 2020, so recent blockbusters like The Batman aren't included.

I've seen 9 of these 13. What's your tally?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.


Scary and sad, but not necessarily bad

I just talked to Reg. The sheriff took Henry away in handcuffs this evening, and he has been admitted to the hospital for (I think) 72 hours.

My darling Henry is not violent, but the sheriff (who knew him before the accident) believes that he is so confused he is a danger to himself.

It started with phone calls. Henry misses his friend Connie very much and has been calling her number. The thing of it is, Connie has been dead for six years and her phone number assigned to someone else ... someone who doesn't appreciate these calls. 

Then there have been calls to his former boss at the library. Henry wants to know when, since covid quarantine is over, he can return to work. Miguel reminded Henry that he retired and left the library's employ in April 2021. Henry demanded to know why Miguel was lying,

Finally, he called the sheriff. Henry reported that his father (who is at least 85 years old and lives in Puerto Rico) had broken into the house and was threatening him. It was his husband, Reg, who has every legal right to be there. When the sheriff arrived, Henry insisted that Reg was an imposter. That's when the cuffs came out. In a call from the police station, which the sheriff overheard, Henry kept referring to Reg as his father and demanding he leave. 

When I think of Henry, confused and in the hospital, my heart hurts. On the other hand, he just may finally be where he needs to be. He is desperately in need of care

So I am scared and sad, but also hopeful for the first time in months.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? First Ladies: The Ever-Changing Role from Martha Washington to Melania Trump by Betty Boyd Caroli. I love reading about our First Ladies because I believe you can tell a lot about someone by the partner they choose ... and because they reflect what America expects of women at any given time in history ... and, since the job is so ill-defined, it's cool to see where each woman's imagination and talent take her.

This book satisfies me on all counts. We've had 46 Presidents, and each one has had a hostess at his elbow for public events. The book is about 500 pages, so it can't dive very deep into any of these women. As Caroli says at the outset, she scrimps on some who have received much attention (for example, JBKO -- pictured above reading on the hood of her car -- has 600+ listings on Amazon; Eleanor Roosevelt has her beat with more than 900) to shine a light on those that history and pop culture have overlooked. The book also discusses women like Harriet Lane, who was not married to a President but still presided over the White House.

So far, I am intrigued by the phenomenon of "invalidism" of upper class 19th century American women, as represented by the majority of our First Ladies. Exhaustion, painful limbs, chronic colds ... all kept them from performing public duties -- and the attendant harsh public scrutiny -- for months at a time, and the nation seemed to accept this unblinkingly. (Mary Lincoln, Sarah Polk, and Julia Grant were notable exceptions.) The author wonders if this "invalidism" wasn't the only way these women had to rebel. They couldn't control their lives, or the spotlight their ambitious husbands thrust them into, but they could control their bodies.

Betty Boyd Caroli is an entertaining story teller. If you have an inner nerd, you may enjoy this. I am!

2. What did you just finish reading? The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. Iris, a school guidance counselor, and Will, an IT wizard, have been happily married for seven years. As the book opens, they agree they are ready to add a child to their family. To celebrate, Will gives Iris a ring from Tiffany's. It's like this is the best their life will ever be.

It is.

Will boards a plane at Hartsfield airport. A plane that left Hartsfield goes down. Was he on it? Who is responsible for the crash? Iris' denial, her refusal to believe her beloved Will is dead, takes her places she wishes she hadn't gone. Did her husband have a secret life? Does it matter?

This book fascinated me. It's not only an engrossing domestic thriller, it's an understated study of our reactions to tragedies and grief. I recommend it.

3. What will you read next? A mystery.



Monday, May 23, 2022

This weekend I slept

I went to the movies, and needed a nap. I sorted laundry, then curled up for a nap. I went grocery shopping, and then put on my pajamas.

I took a covid test, and it was negative. I took my temperature, and it's normal.

I don't feel refreshed, I feel annoyed. I'm not bored, I think I've got a virus of some sort.

I love this weather. 65º and sunny. I missed it because I slept.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Upstairs, Downstairs

This week has been all about big households and servants.  It wasn't by design. It just happened this way.

•  I'm a big fan of Downton Abbey and caught the new movie at my local theater yesterday. I wanted to see it before I read or heard too much about it. (I loved it.) Anyway, it shares the parallel points-of-view of the aristocratic Crawley family and their loyal staff.

•  My movie group is discussing Cluny Brown, so I have to finish it before tomorrow's meet up. This 1946 movie is about an English girl (Cluny) whose uncle/guardian is concerned about her tomboyish ways and sends her off to a grand country house. There, as a parlor maid, she will see firsthand how ladies behave. There's romance and mistaken identity and hijinks.

•  Then there's our nation's grand house, the one on Pennsylvania Avenue. I'm reading First Ladies: The Ever Changing Role. Because the role has no job description, each First Lady has handled it in her own way. Whatever else she does, there's one constant: Every First Lady is responsible for managing the White House staff of butlers, maids, cooks, and gardeners.

Was there a theme to your reading and watching this week?

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: River of No Return (1954)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Marilyn Monroe performed this song in the 1954 western, River of No Return. In the movie (and at the beginning of this clip) she wears jeans. The wardrobe mistress bought the jeans off the rack at JC Penney's. Yet because of their connection to Marilyn, they are valuable memorabilia. Designer Tommy Hilfiger bought them for a reported $75,000 and today they hang in the closet of Britney Spears. Do you ever shop at thrift stores or websites for second-hand or vintage clothes?  I like ThredUp. They curate things for me, remembering my sizes and colors. I support Goodwill, but mostly by dropping off my gently used goods, not by shopping.

2) In this song, she sounds melancholy as she recalls a lover who has gone. We hope this morning you're feeling more chipper than Marilyn. In one word, describe your mood. Hopeful.

3) In real life, Marilyn's love life was sailing along. During the filming of this movie, her famous boyfriend, Joe DiMaggio, visited her on location in Canada and they were married by the time the movie was released. Joltin' Joe was of course one of baseball's greats. How is your baseball team doing this season? Well, it's a tale of two cities. You see, the Cubs traded my favorite player to the Yankees. So while I cheer for the Cubs -- because I must -- I now also follow Anthony Rizzo and his New York team. The Cubs are struggling, and while I applaud their few-and-far-between victories, I expect little this season (and next). Now the Yankees have the best record in baseball. This overjoys me because I want Anthony Rizzo, now 32, to have another shot at a World Series ring. 
To tie this back to Joltin' Joe ... In 2019, Anthony Rizzo's charity made a $1 million donation to The Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. So as much as I hated that trade, there's a wonderful symmetry to him being a Yankee. 
4) It was during her romance with Joe that Marilyn learned to cook. She enjoyed preparing Thanksgiving stuffing from scratch. Do you have a favorite recipe to share? It's very easy, but I did manage to mess up the initial batch during my first try.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons any flavor jelly or fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix peanut butter, sugar egg and vanilla until well blended.  Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make a few holes/dents into the top of each cookie and fill with the jelly.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool. 
My dream man
5) Over her lifetime, Marilyn had 43 different addresses. She was always a renter until February 1962, when she bought her final home in Brentwood. If you're a renter, do you ever wish you owned? If you're an owner, do you ever think you'd be happier as a renter? Well, I'm a terrible homeowner. There are so many things I should be doing or should have done in this condo but haven't because I'm not handy, didn't know better, and simply hate this sort of thing. Sometimes I'd sell my soul to have Fred Mertz on call to fix everything. But financially, owning just makes more sense. My monthly mortgage payment (which includes property taxes, paid out of escrow) and assessment is a hair under $1,000. I couldn't rent a comparable apartment in this neighborhood for less than $1,400/month. And there's this: I have equity in the place that I can borrow against if I have health problems in my dotage. So I made the right choice. I just have to get my shit together, make a list of what needs to be done, prioritize it, and either do it my damn self or call the handy man.
6) Marilyn tended to her famous alabaster complexion with Nivea, which is still available at drugstores today. What's the last thing you purchased at a drugstore? Was it medication? Food or snacks? Health and beauty? Something else? Here's what I just got at Walgreens: zinc, big bandages for that blister on my foot, a 6-pack of Coke, and a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli for the food pantry. (Kids love that!)
7) Her signature scent was Chanel No. 5. What fragrance do you wear most often? The Body Shop Warm Vanilla. Yeah, it's their holiday scent but I wear it all year. The spicy scent makes me happy.

8) The year Marilyn's recording was released, John Travolta was born. What's your favorite John Travolta movie? I'm such a romantic sap.
9) Random question: What happened to your first car? (Sold? Traded in? Still in your garage?) It was an old Impala. A big green boat of a car. When I moved out, I gave it back to my parents to dispose of. My mom reported that my first car soon became the first car of the high school student who lived across the street, who painted it neon yellow. Besides my mother's disapproval of his color choice, I think this story has a happy ending.


Friday, May 20, 2022

That's why it's called "my money"

There's a very poor man on the corner near my office. He loves cats. The care that he lavishes on these strays touches my heart. I know cats. I can tell they trust him, and that they eat and have fresh water, even when he doesn't. Last month he had a kitten one day but not the next. This made me sad. I didn't ask what happened but that would only make me sadder.

This week, as the bus approached my office building, I saw him again. From the window I could see that he had a cat carrier. I was so happy for him. Before I went into work, I stopped in the CVS store in the lobby and picked up a bag of cat food and then a tuna "lunch to go" pouch for him. Doing this brought me great pleasure. Until I brought it out to him.

He was lovely. Happy to see me and proud of the new kitten. He told me the kitten he had last month ran away when he was visiting his sister "out in the suburbs." I felt better about that. A kitten has better luck on her own with lawns and yards than on city streets. He found this kitten in the garage of his sister's neighbor. He laughed that cats just seem to find him. She seemed trusting and very comfortable in his arms. I was also happy to see her in harness.

When I handed him the cat food and the tuna pouch, I said, "Sorry her lunch bag is bigger than yours."

"Only in America," sniped The Streetwise vendor, also on the corner.  Streetwise is a weekly magazine that low-income or homeless Chicagoans can buy for 90¢/each and then sell for $2. In addition to the magazines, the vendors get training in how to land a job and manage their money. The magazine itself can be interesting, with success stories about former and part-time vendors who are now working as well as general interest about life in Chicago.

I would have purchased an issue from that vendor had he kept his mouth shut. But no, "Only in America." Meaning that there was something wrong with my decision to spend more on the kitten than the man.  

Selfishly I was angry because he rained on my parade. I enjoyed bringing the food to this man. I was happy to hear how he found this kitten and to see the pleasure her company brought him. Maybe you have to be able to love an animal to get this. But this cat helped solidify a very human bond between us, and the Streetwise vendor was judging it disapprovingly. That kinda spoiled the moment.

And then there's this: It's my money. I have been completely self-supporting since I was 19. I have been in advertising, an industry not without stress, for more than 40 years now. I earn my money. It's mine. If I want to go to the Chase ATM on the corner, withdraw a $20 and swallow the bill in front of the Streetwise vendor, I can. 



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #258

Thirteen things to do in Chicago. As the summer travel season approaches, I checked out my home base on Tripadvisor. I wanted to learn what tourists will be doing when they visit, and to see if out-of-towners see a side of Chicago I miss.

1. Millennium Park. A beautiful sea of green grass and trees in an urban setting. Great for outdoor concerts in summer. In winter, it's home to the skating rink and the official city Christmas Tree. Home of The Bean (aka Cloud Gate). I'm here whenever I'm downtown because I work across the street.

2. The Magnificent Mile. This strip of Michigan Avenue is gorgeous, with high-end stores and terrific architecture. It's the face we want to show the world, which makes this like our living room.

3. Garfield Park Conservatory. A world-class indoor garden. Colorful and fragrant and exotic. A great thing to do on a rainy day.

4. The Art Institute. The building itself is a work of art. Seeing those lions out front always makes me happy. Inside ain't too shabby, either. Photography, sculpture, stained glass, American Gothic, Nighthawks, Sunday on la Grande Jatte ... I don't go here anywhere near often enough.

5. Chicago River Walk. It makes me happy to see this growing in popularity. The River isn't as breathtaking as Lake Michigan, but it gives you a more intimate view of the City. It's also a great place to people watch, with its bistros and ice cream parlors and kayak rentals.

6. Wrigley Field. The most beautiful ballpark in the country. Home of the Chicago Cubs. Bricks and ivy and history. Babe Ruth played here. If you don't know that I think this place is spectacular, you don't visit this blog often.

7. Architecture River Cruise. We're back to The River. This tour takes you by all the high hard ones: The Merchandise Mart, The Wrigley Building, Sears (Willis) Tower, Marina City ... All the landmarks I pass by without appreciating them. Shame on me.

8. Museum of Science and Industry. Oh my God. This place is a delight. It's massive and it's got something for everyone. Tour a real submarine, see the world's biggest Lego sculpture, watch chicks hatching, ride down into a coal mine, watch a Charlie Chaplain silent movie ...

9. Willis Tower Skydeck. Formerly known as Sears Tower. I have not been back since the name changed. I am that petty.

10. Navy Pier. The most touristy thing on this list. Worth it for the view of the city from The Ferris Wheel. Lake Michigan always makes my heart swell a bit and the fireworks are gorgeous. Just please, don't go to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. No offense to Jimmy, but it doesn't belong here. If you eat here, have the pizza at Giordano's.

11. Field Museum. Devoted to natural history. Meet Sue, the most largest and most complete T. Rex in the world. She's not the only dinosaur, but damn, she's breathtaking. A lot here about evolution, a lot about conservation. I prefer #8 to this one, but it's a matter of taste and interest. (My Cousin Rose adores this place.)

12. Cultural Center. If you like stained glass, you want to come here. This is the original Chicago Public Library, it's over 100 years old, and it is highlighted by two stained-glass domes. It's free, too! There's always a photo exhibit or a concert or something to entertain you.

13. Lincoln Park Zoo. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And aardvarks and toads and plenty of birds. I've heard good things about the craft brews, too. To be honest, I never go here. There's another nearby zoo -- Brookfield Zoo -- that I prefer. It says a lot that Chicagoland can support two zoos.

How well would you do as a tour guide in your hometown?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. It opens with Iris and Will in bed, enjoying one another on the morning after their 7th anniversary celebration. They are very romantic, excited by the prospect of a baby, and then he's off to Hartsfield for a flight to Orlando.

Hours later, a flight out of Hartsfield goes down. Iris is fleetingly worried until she hears that plane was headed for Seattle. Hubs was going in a completely different direction. But then the airline calls. Will was on the flight to Seattle. Will is dead.

What? Why did he lie to her? How could he be dead when he was so alive in her bed and in her arms just hours ago?

This can't be true. Except it is.

I am very into this book. I find it shocking and engrossing. I hope Kimberly Belle can maintain this level of excitement.

2. What did you just finish reading? Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson. Savannah Cade is an editor at a small publishing house specializing in highbrow non-fiction. That sounds like a great job, doesn't it? But Savannah comes from a long line of overachievers, and compared to her multi-talented, multi-degreed entrepreneurial kid sister, her life is just kind of "meh."

So it means a great deal that she make a success as a novelist. She's been working on her own book for years and keeps the manuscript tucked in a secret hiding place at the office. One day, as she checks on her "baby," she finds critical notes in the margins. So now the editor has her own editor ... one who prefers to remain secret.

I liked Savannah and so I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. It fact, at times it annoyed me. Her living arrangement -- crashing in the guest room of her ex-boyfriend and his fiancee, who just happens to be her aforementioned kid sister -- would not happen on Planet Earth. Plus, the plot is so OBVIOUS! If you don't have the whole thing figured out within the first 100 pages, I don't think you should be allowed to drink, vote, or drive a car.

3. What will you read next? A biography.



Money well spent

Anthony Rizzo got his 10th home run tonight. Since I've pledged $5/home run to his foundation, this puts me to $50.

Look how happy he is!

Here's where it goes. Meet Rory. Next week he will ring the bell after his final chemotherapy treatment. Three years ago, at the beginning of his battle with cancer, Rory met his hero at Wrigley Field. Last week, when Rizz was in town vs. The White Sox, he posed with Rory again to celebrate how he "hit cancer out of the park." Rizzo helps these kids' families financially, too. Everything from parking in the hospital lot to meals in the hospital cafeteria to daycare for the family's other children while Mom and Dad are with their young cancer patient for chemo ... none of these costs are covered by insurance and all put a considerable strain on a budget when a family is fighting cancer. And that is what Anthony said he learned when he battled Hodgkin's lymphoma as a teenager: cancer affects the whole family.

Of course I hate it that Rizz was traded. But maybe I'm just being selfish. He's hitting well again with the Yankees, he has a real shot at another ring, and now he's helping kids in New York, too. He's still active with Lurie Children's Hospital here, but now there's a partnership with FAO Schwartz in New York. During special promotions, shoppers are invited to round up at the register, and then come fall, NYC pediatric cancer patients will be given gift cards for a toy-buying shopping spree.

By the way, next time you see that stupid fucking meme on Facebook "Who needs an athlete?", think of Rory. Anthony Rizzo has been there when countless children needed him, and if it wasn't for sports he wouldn't have the opportunity to help on such a grand scale.

PS THANKS, BUD! I can't read enough about my favorite most Cub ballplayer.