Sunday, July 25, 2010

Survivor: Sid the Streeterville Spider

Every year the lake sends airmail delivery of black spiders - some of which find their way onto the outside of our floor to ceiling windows, where they create beautifuly intricate gossamer webs.  We love to watch their progress and observe their hunting and survival tactics.  We are saddened when they sometimes blow away.
I've named our latest one Sid - no particular reason for that name - and I'm not even sure its a boy - it might be Syd.

Friday night we had a storm which one of my writing classmates described as biblical in its ferocity.  High winds, heavy rain and an eletrical show to rival any man-made fireworks. Towns, highways and subway tunnels flooded.  Homes and businesses were without power and, again, trees were down.  Many people were late to our class on Saturday morning.  I got there early in an effort to avoid the rain that was once again threatening with "Puff the Magic Dragon" shaped clouds outside my window.
 Upon returning home later that afternoon, not only was I greeted by a remarkably rosy dusk, but also happily, by a lively and  happy Sid.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Scary Monster in the House

What is the super monster that weighs 17  pounds, stands  only a foot tall and is scaring me to death?  If you guessed a half-elf or a vampire you'd be wrong.  Try again.  Give up? It is the pile of magazines waiting for me  after 6 weeks away and no suspension of delivery.  If it was the middle of winter I'd have less of a problem, but every day that I spend outdoors enjoying summer puts me one more day behind the 8 ball- or should I say print wall.  I think I need to  re-evaluate my need for  these publications and  do something about it. I'll take them alphabetically:

BON APPETIT:  I started getting this in December, 2009 as a consolation prize from Conde Nast after they shut down Gourmet.  I have been getting it ever since and have never paid for it.
What I like about it:  The photos and some of the fast easy recipes and the Feedback page at the end. I still miss Gourmet.
Why I probably don't need it:  I have 153 cookbooks in my collection, (left) not to mention the 5 albums filled with recipes from friends  and family or clipped from various publications.In spite of this I somehow always go back to preparing the same 10 dishes over and over.

CHICAGO MAGAZINE:  I think this gets renewed by osmosis.. I don't recall ever making a conscious decision one way or the other.
What I like about it:  The real estate stuff and occasionally a profile of an interesting Chicagoan.
Why I probably don't need it:  I have enough foodies in my circle of friends and family, that they give the scoop on the hot spots before they get reviewed by Chicago - and since we eat out so seldom, who  really cares.  I can get other events on line and pick and choose.  Nobody can change my mind about the best pizza and burgers in Chicago no matter how many issues they devote to it. I think it's time to cancel this one.

COOK'S COUNTRY:  I get this sporadically.  It is put out by the same people as Cook's Illustrated.. I don't pay for this oneI guess Christopher Kimball is trying to entice me to subscribe.
What I like about it:  Just a handful of basic, easy to follow recipes and the many test kitchen results that have really helped me choose and prepare food with better results.
Why I probably don't need it:  I don't miss it if I don't get it and I don't need another cooking magazine.

COOKS ILLUSTRATED:  I consciously subscribe to this and pass the issues on to my local daughters.
What I like about it:  Everything.  They do the best reviews of products, most helpful hints and dummy proof recipes.  It only comes every two months, so I find myself looking forward to it and I usually devour it before I open the  rest of the mail.
Why I probably don't need it:  NA - I need it.

the NEW YORKER:  This is Joe's baby.  We've been getting it for  more yeas than I can remember.  I take them after he's done with them.  Sometimes they pile up and we wind up taking a suitcase full when we go on vacation. 
What I like about it:  Okay, I admit it, the cartoons.  I also like the fiction and the financial page.  My favorite issues are the all fiction one and the food one. 
Why I probably don't need it:  By the time I get to it, all the timely topics are old hat and we've seen the movies (or else they're not showing any more).  I hate the poetry and wonder how some of it gets published.  If it didn't come in the mail, I could read it in the library. This one is not my call.

POETS AND WRITERS:  I subscribed to this at the suggestion of someone in one of my writing workshops.
What I like about it:  It only comes every two months and it has a lot of calls for submissions to contests and announcements of writers workshops and retreats that look interesting.
Why I probably don't need it: Its target audience is authentic (published) writers.  The articles are too long and analytical. The contests and calls for submissions are for much more serious subject matter than I care to produce.  I am not renewing it.

The WRITER:   I started looking at this in Border's at the advice of my writing teacher.  Then Border's took the benches and chairs out of the store - so I'd have to read it standing up.  I decided to subscribe.
What I like about it:  It is truly geared to aspiring writers who need advice and helpful hints.  The articles are short and to  the point.  They have good writing exercises in them.  They also have calls for submissions and contests, but more geared to the kind of writing I enjoy - personal essays.  I will give it one more try, although true to my nature, by the time I look at the contests, et al - the deadlines have passed.  Oh well.

That's another story for another time - when I get around to it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine...yada,yada, yada......

I prefer to make my own melba toast.   I cut the crusts off the very thin Pepperidge Farm bread, spray lightly with olive oil and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.  I get a mountain of toast points.  I also get a bag of perfectly good bread crusts.  What to do?  Head for the south pond at the zoo and feed the duckies.  No kids around so I take Joe who loves feeding them and trying to outsmart the sea gulls who swoop in to steal the bread from their mouths.  After braving a sea of naked armpits on the dangerously crowded 151 bus, we hit the pond running.
There we were rewarded with momma duck and her 7 babies and also the many varieties of water fowl, gratefully accepting our crusts.  After a nice stroll around the pond we discovered the zoo was closing early for the Zoo Ball fundraiser so we'd have to be content with people watching instead.

 Back onto another outrageously crowded 151 and another sea of armpits and other body parts hanging from the straps.  We got off at the Wrigley building to cruise the North Michigan Avenue Art Fair - a very diminished display compared to other years- recession related- no doubt.A couple of our favorites were missing and there were no food vendors or street performers, a pretty sad event.

Back home in time for cocktail hour we feasted on the smoked salmon and cucumber appetizers made with the home- made melba toast and chose the wine for dinner.

Nothing goes to waste around here - it just goes to waist.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

I'm not a dog lover, nor a dog hater  and I've had  and still have some favorite dogs in my life.  I  have  some good friends whose preferences in dogs leave me puzzled - I'm talking about the two with Pit Bulls, the one with the Rottweilers and the one with the Rhodesian Ridgeback.  I'm still their friend, but not a willing visitor to their homes.  Sorry, guys, they scare me.  

 But this post is not about them - it is about the certain breed of dog owners who have popped into my life way too often lately.
  • Gold Coast dog owners who walk their pets on the lawn of our dog free building with no visible signs of a clean up device
  • Farmers' Market goers who think the rest of us enjoy their mutts slobbering on the produce and tripping us with their leashes
  • The neanderthal who brought his ill behaved dog to the 4th of July concert and let it bark all through the reading of the Declaration of Independence
  • The beach goers who ignore the "no dogs" signs and see nothing wrong with letting their dogs pee in the same sand that toddlers love to dig in
  • The matron who drags her poodle through Neiman Marcus and looks peeved if you don't smile approvingly at the doggy hairdo
  • The  many whose dogs are in strollers, beach bags, purses and wagons.  If the dog can't walk along side of you - what's the point?
I'm sure you've got examples of your own - and just to be clear - this is not about the dogs it's about the dumb people who own them.  Before we had a family, we had Grandpa Jack's dog Spooky and one of own named Charles.   In New Jersey we had Beautiful Theresa - don't look at me, Joe let the kids name it. We also had the Moore's big dog Tippy whom we all loved. In River Forest we had Sam.  Sam is book waiting to be written about neurosis in canines.  We also had the Shefte's dog named Spot.  My sisters had two look alike dogs - Pebbles in Florida and Barnacle in Cape Cod.   Now the Florida crew has Princess. We are currently dogless and will remain so.

Our kids have some nifty dogs - Jody at last count was at two.  Very different, but great pets.  Terry's Daisy is sweet and gentle.  Kelli and Kevin's dog is a teacup variety and I'm afraid I'll sit on it - but it's well behaved.  Which brings us to two of the nicest family dogs ever.  They are recently deceased and missed.  They had loving responsible owners - unlike some of the characters I'm talking about.

Bridy with Finn
Goldy at Christmas

As for me, I'll just keep yelling at the irresponsible dogs owners and keep the dirty looks flying.