Archive for the ‘quick check-in’ Category

The past holiday weekend was a bit of a mini-vacation for me. I worked the Market on Saturday, which meant today was Day 3 of my three-day weekend. The weather was hot, but DANG, has it been glorious to be away from the office. I’m not exactly looking forward to heading in tomorrow…but I’m not dreading it, either. That’s something.

Some photos from today, just a few minutes ago:

This is Mongo, a little black bunny who lives in the neighborhood.

Mongo is not fond of the paparazzi. At all.

Seriously, you guys.

That’s cool. I’ll take photos of the neighbors’ chickens instead.

What do we want? COMPOST! When do we want it? NOW!

NOT a rooster, OK?

Altogether, it’s been a satisfying last few days, and I’m squeezing the last bit out this evening while Jim does some heavy lifting for the grad students moving into our now-in-CHGO  friends’ house behind us.

Speaking of backyard living, you can access my most recent IMBY segment, “Crooked and Uneven: The New Black” for listening any old time you like. It’s about gardening with found and/or very cheap objects and how not having the stuff to create a million-dollar garden means total jack these days and should never be an excuse, which I was trying to make it into. I like to use this Nikki McClure image for inspiration:

Photo by Flickr user Meeldientje

Seriously. This is my current mantra as I wonder what’s next, as I try not to be lazy because, well, the million-dollar garden isn’t happening: Use what you’ve already got to make something awesome.

And with that, dinner.


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Spring Cleaning

At some point in the relatively near future, this blog and all its content (I hope) will be moved to an as-yet undisclosed location on the internet. Still trying to figure out how to make the whole migrating thing work. Hm. Anyway, in the meantime, please enjoy a few photos I dug up:

How about this freaking awesome photo of a few of my aunts and uncles in the early/mid 60s?


This photo of my Oma in the basement just kills me. It belongs in a magazine. Taken by my Opa, Jan Bralts.


2 uncles, 1 aunt, and my dad (far right). I'm calling this one 1959.

I know there are tons more of these photos (and movies, too) lurking somewhere in some attic of one of my aunts/uncles. I could get lost for days sifting through this particular brand of detritus, but first I have to deal with my own damn internet detritus. Keep you posted.

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Where I Sleep

Crowne Plaza, Springfield, IL

Tonight, anyway. After a long day of conferencing and meetings, this bed will do. I have a 7 AM (!) meeting tomorrow and then I’m getting the hell out of here – the internet is too damn slow and winter weather will be approaching and I miss my family and my own bed.


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Olden Times

Me. A leaf pile. A lollipop. Maine. Early 1970s.

I can see both of my parents in this photo of me, and my daughter, too. And my nephew.

We were living in Maine when this was taken. Maine happened between Florida and New York, I think, and we lived in a variety of places – a house, an attic, our VW bus at a campground (my favorite). My father was trying to make a living as a musician.  My parents were awfully young at the time – if I was 4 or 5 in this photo, my parents were 24 and 25, with me and my very toddler brother in tow. They spent my young childhood walking the line between doing their thing and making sure we were safe and having a good time. I can relate.

Eventually we left Maine. I might have started kindergarten there, but then we moved and I finished kindergarten in New York. Then we moved back to Florida. We lived in a house in Winter Park and my father went to work every day, like other fathers, and the bass guitar was quiet.

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It’s because of laundry, another slide presentation that has to be prepared, groceries, vacuuming, putting the sheets on the bed, dinner, seed order-making, stuff like that.

But here’s a photo of today’s sky, per the January Photo A Day Challenge.

Parking lot sky, about 2:30 PM today, Urbana, IL

More tomorrow.

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So – what have you guys been doing?

June and July, in a nutshell:

The Soundtrack of Our Lives came to Urbana-Champaign. We took them to lunch at Black Dog, of course. They played two shows – an in-store at Parasol:

And a full-on show at the High Dive.

There was a party later.

The neighborhood had a corn dog party.

The breadseed poppies bloomed.

The Solstice came.

Lilly went to Cousins’ Camp in Springfield.

Cody came down for his birthday and the 4th of July, also in Springfield.

Jim & I went with friends to a “back-alley dinner” at Black Dog. It sounds terrible, but it was excellent. Smuttynose was the featured brewery.

We had our Seventh Annual B-K Dessert Party. Darth Vader stood watch.

Then I went to the Pitchfork Music Festival. Cody was working as the festival photographers’ assistant, but he made sure I was taken care of.

I wound up seeing a bunch of people I knew from the Days of Yore, which was mindblowing on a couple levels. And –  I saw bands. I was there primarily to see Fleet Foxes, however. They were great, though I think I prefer them indoors, where I can hear every last thing they’re doing. This will happen October 1, when they play the Chicago Theatre.

Then it got hot. It went beyond summer hot and into this-is-kind-of-weird hot. I love summer, but even I thought it was a little scary. Mr. Teacups got sick, we think because of the heat, but then he got better. The tomatoes basically stopped producing. It rained one time in 3+ weeks.

We got Lilly’s student ID for her new school. We still need to buy her books, because summer isn’t over, damn it. She starts in 13 days.

Lilly and I spent a day swimming at my friend B’s house. She lives in Munster, IN – home to Three Floyds and not far from Chicago- and has a beautiful home and pool.

And now we’re here, early August. Jim and I have been married 11 years today.

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Because I never think I should be doing what I’m actually doing, I should be:

– writing the next IMBY segment

– drafting a proposal for my Next Big Idea

– switching the laundry

– working further in the garden, which is a bit of a mess (but home, sweet [muddy] home to the tiny frog I almost hacked in half with my hoe today. There he/she is, in one piece, above.)

… but I’m not. Instead, I thought I’d stop in here while I wait for the Illinois vs Kansas men’s basketball game to begin.

Here are a bunch of books currently influencing me in some way. Well, they’re sitting on my bedside table.

Curation Nation by Steven Rosenbaum: “Creating content is easy; finding what matters is hard.”  Um, I knew that. This book isn’t telling me much that I don’t already know, you know? Maybe I’m missing something. Am I? Isn’t life kinda like one big “curated” mixed tape?

The Unprejudiced Palate by Antonio Pellegrini: Have you read this book? If you love food and cooking and gardens and stories from the early-to-mid 20th century (I do, all four), you must. It’s lovely – of another era and culture entirely. The descriptions of his garden and the meals he cooked from it and his full-to-bursting pantry make me sigh and ooh and ahh. I’ve read this book, oh, about 78,349,585 times. Books like this are why I insist on having a large garden that I can barely manage… in a good year.

Independence Days, A Nation of Farmers, and Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk: This is kind of great book trifecta if you’re into gardening, food preservation and storage, neighborhood and individual self-sufficiency, the effects of resource depletion on communities, doing more with less, etc. I’m a total geek for this crap. Bonus for me: I ordered a copy of Independence Days and was chuffed to discover that the handwriting font I made with my dear friend Chank, Wordier Diva, is on the front and back cover and all over the inside of the book.

I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson: I didn’t read her other book and I’m sure I never will, but I’m totally charmed by this trip down her Memory Lane about David Cassidy fandom. I was quite certain, in 1984, that if John Taylor of Duran Duran could only meet me…. (he’s still quite fine, by the way)

Farm City by Novella Carpenter: Quite possibly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I can’t find the actual link to the article Hamish Bowles did in Vogue about her, but this might even be better…

American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen: I have this, have not read it yet, am interested in further studying the idea of terroir in the US, am afraid of “foodies” wrecking it by being too precious and academic, etc.

When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman: See The Unprejudiced Palate, above.

Joie de Vivre by Robert Arbor with Katherine Whiteside: I’m a bit of a Francophile anyway, and Cody just got back from two very-extensively-photographed weeks in Paris, so it’s back in rotation. It’s part lifestyle, part cookbook. Great photos. Sigh. I guess he went over to some young lady’s house a few years ago to cook for her. You can read about it here.

Life by Keith Richards and James Fox: I just finished this. It was all I could think about for days. How, I thought, could someone take that many drugs for so many years and not only be productive, but produce some of the best work of his career? Also, I was born in the wrong decade. And… I must download every Stones record I don’t own immediately. I will say this: I don’t care about much the Stones did after 1974. And, you know, in Keef’s world, all women are chicks and bitches, except maybe his mom. The guy adored his mom.

Anyhow. It’s the 2nd half, Illinois is still in the game, and I have a bizzonkers work week ahead. Hire staff! Write media releases! Answer email! Process applications! Etcetera! So on! And so forth!




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