March 2016 in review

Various photos and events in March,

Amongst lots of inclement-weather days, one really nice weekend for a walk through CBG

Seeing They Might Be Giants at the Vic in Chicago.  (Lyall’s favorite: “Clap your hands”, my favorite: “Robot Parade”)

Waiting for the show to start

Waiting for the show to start

Residual snow on the court (or field) didn’t stop anyone from outdoor tennis (or baseball) practice.



For that matter, when it did: board games and visits to the gym.


Weekend notes, November

11/8: Saturday late awakening, following the Friday afternoon arrival from NRT. Morning leaf-raking (round three, fight!) with thing 2 and thing 3. Afternoon disc golf sprint with everybody, at Larry Fink park.

Sunday morning trip to LPZ. Favorite sightings,
E: Meercats
L: Peacocks (i.e. all large, colorful birds)
Grandma J: the pygmy hippo
Moi: Exotic birds flocking around us while the zookeeper opened a tupperware of grubs
Wifey: the Tawny Frogmouth

11/15: An early morning departure (and late afternoon arrival) from Seattle, i.e. land of many coffees.  (Best coffees? Storyville, Works, Monorail.  Best food? Radiator.)  Visitors from Bay Village and takeout barbecue (from RUB, of course) for supper.  Sunday, a walk through the light snowfall to Lincoln School for Pancake Day.  In the afternoon, with E to a peer’s bowling/slash/birthday party at The Alley.

11/22: An ordinary weekend, so far as I remember.  We’ve nearly exhausted the game cabinet with mister-no-age-restrictions taking on RFTG.


Contents of the game cabinet

  • Quarriors
  • Catan, knights and Catan Jr.
  • Agricola
  • Bohnanza
  • Ra
  • Power Grid
  • Pandemic and Forbidden Island
  • Lost Cities
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Race for the Galaxy and expansions
  • Puerto Rico
  • Carcassonne, River and T.C.
  • Sorry, Quirkle, Monopoly, Risk and various kid games

11/26: An early start to the weekend, with a Wednesday evening arrival of Anne from the 216. Thurday morning, both of us to the North Short Turkey Trot 10k, a decision that would haunt my quads and adductors for days to come. Food and coffee and food and coffee. After a cheeseboard lunch, a round of frolf with J and E at the sledding hill park while S and Anne chopped and cooked and chopped and cooked.

Friday, dinner at Publican. For the record, the three of us shared some assorted charcuterie: the headcheese was my favorite, pork pie also impressive, pate eech; a salad with persimmon, avocado and toasted quinoa; roasted squash, acorn and some others with a little molasses; clam fry, i.e. basket of lightly fried clams, cheese curds and onions; pork belly; roasted duck; squishing it all in with a bread pudding and last year’s Boubon County stout on draft. (It’s not as much food as it sounds like.) (On second thought, maybe it was.)

Weekend notes, August

8/2: Visitors from Mentor yielded weekday outings to the city, which I duly missed.  Saturday, a morning trip to the aquapark, modest lunch on the 1531 patio, and an eleventh-anniversary date night spent exploring the Logan Square neighborhood of our fair city and featuring a top-notch, hipster-casual dinner at L&E.  I was cautiously prepared to be disappointed despite generally rave reviews, but the no-reservations-accepted wait was only an hour, the whiskey list was extensive, the food inventive, the service attentive and company not so bad to boot.

For the record,

  • Braised Rabbit, Mustard Braised Carrots, Pickled Ramps & Rhubarb, Homestyle Dumplings, Rabbit Jus
  • Housemade Burrata, Braised Celery, Barigoule Carrot, Porcini Marmalade, Black Truffle Vinaigrette
  • Duo of Pork, Berkshire Tenderloin, Whiskey Glazed Pork Belly, Compressed Peaches, Smoked Maitake Mushroom, Green Beans, Bacon Fat Hush Puppies, Peach Puree
  • Fried Chicken Roulade, Buttermilk & Ranch Spiced Farce, Duck Fat Biscuits, Aerated Sriracha, Smoked Green Apple & Cipollini Onion, High Life Gel, Cayenne Chicken Jus

8/9: An empty calendar!  Friday bike-riding after supper at Sunset Woods.  (Still jogging along-side E as he rides, but only in order to be a few steps closer when he tumbles into someone.)  Saturday farmers’-market-peach pancakes followed by the aquapark from its 10:00 open until snacktime… lunchtime… after-lunchtime.  J attempts the big slide (photo via google) and then repeats not-quite-ad-nauseum.  I take a naptime ride northbound, briefly thwarted by a failing left crankarm enforcing a break in the shade near Sunrise Beach.  (How many Sunrise Beaches are there in the world?)  Sunday, morning restocking errands to Whole Foods, Target and Tom’s Pastry (the entire house was out of apple fritters).  A later bike errand with L in the trailer (who excitedly responds to the suggestion with “Shoes! Helmet!” was thwarted by the Coffee Station’s early departure for vacation.  (Nonetheless, a pleasant and breezy jaunt down the rail trail and back up Sheridan and Waverly.)  Afternoon cleaning chores, backyard play and garage tidying.

8/16: Friday ready-for-grade-two haircut at the fancy barber shop.  A bit of limping aroudn for me, recovering from the misconception that I’m still young enough to pound out a quick bike commute and intro-to-masters-swimming class on the same (Thurs)day.  Saturday, magnet-moving (i.e. chores!) morning and visitors from Cleveland West.  Bike riding at Independence Grove – one small loop (3/4 mi.) with intermittent stops-waits-restarts-with-balancing-help followed by a second small loop with a more confident beginning and whoosh – they’re off.  Then, directly to the aquapark for a cooldown and many rides down the curvy slide for the >42″ tall crowd.  In the evening, a sitter for all three boys and an evening outing to the city to see Andrew Bird at the Chicago Theater, whose ornamentation matched the rotating double horn well.  AB’s set started well, with three solo tunes, but some combination of obtuse mixing and the hall’s acoustics got in the way of the full band’s (i.e. the Hands of Glory) first half.  As hoped, they later played several charts gathered around a solo mic – usurping the engineers’ power to mis-mix with their own corrections by moving nearer and farther from each other and the pickup.  Brilliant, tight, harmonious, symbiotic; made my evening.  Sunday, then, brunch at the best place in town to order huevos rancheros and lox in the same breath.  Bike ride to the 0.2-mi asphalt loop around the Lincoln school ballfields, around said loop many times, and back home.  I ran behind, estimating a 7:15/mi pace and arriving at GBR decidedly out of breath.

8/23: Morning pre-birthday trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo, for only J and his parents.  Sunday, a birthday party attendance for E at one of those strip-mall kids’ gymnastics places.

8/29: A four-daiye weekend trip to Cleveburgh. Friday, 5-plus-hound of us departed around 9:30, paused somewhere in Indiana for a picnic lunch, and ended up in Bay Village for suppertime. To Mentor to sleep. Sat morning, a stop-in by the Dysons, then lunch and an afternoon visit to Wilma’s with all the sisters. Evening, just the two of us to Katz Club, carousing at The Bottlehouse and overnight at the Washington Place Inn. The Bottlehouse, you say? Honeydew mead, an incredible IPA-based braggot and an equally incredible rising star coffee stout. Brunch at WP in the morning. Phoenix for whatever’s on tap. Back to Mentor to pick up the kids, an afternoon visit to the great-grandparents, then back to the Heights for a tour of the old stomping grounds. Dinner at Tommy’s, play at the Peace Park, dessert at Sweetie Fry, then off to Broadview Heights to overnight with friends. Monday morning, pancakes and a walk to the local playground before hitting I-80 for the return home in time for a quick dinner before bed.

Weekend notes, July

7/4: Toast and RCS blend.  Morning parade-watching in town, followed by lunch and the Fourth Fest with bouncy tents and pony rides for all.  Afternoon play, collaborative supper of poached eggs and CSA kale on cornmeal waffles, and backyard calvinball.  Late-night fireworks adventures as J and S set up in the Target parking lot, and I ride over to the bike bridge for a mostly-clear view with the tripod and 55f2.

Saturday, a coffee pickup joined by L in the bike trailer. Gymnastics. Lunch al fresco. Afternoon walks to town, for errands at the bike shop and sporting goods store. Brisket and beets for supper.

Sunday, we all caught up TDF with yesterday’s stage 1 summary video. Then,
J: We played footbasketballball.
E: Then, we went to the aquapark.
J: I went with (dad) into the practice swimming area. It was a very wide lap lane. We did lots of different strokes, including breaststroke, backstroke and regular stroke.
all of which merits four servings of lunch.

7/12: Kenya Kika AA from Hansa. Gymnastics class. An evening outing with J to Half-price Books, in search of treasure. The corpse reviver number two. Sunday, our first Cubs game. Noontime drive to the end of the Skokie Flier, to the red line down to Wrigleville. The good guys lost, but I hear that’s happened before.

7/19 and 7/26: We travel to points abroad for a gen-u-ine family summer vacation!  Some photos are published here.

Weekend notes, June

6/7: Mid-morning visitors from Rocky River, early-afternoon bike riding and climbering at Sunset Woods. Grand discussions of the hole in our garage roof, who should repair it and how, at the short-term expense of State Farm.  Afternoon flight to St. Louis. Should I have taken Amtrak? Yes. Sunday, flomming around the arched city in my new suit (which, though not particularly fancy, puts my other new suit, purchased four years ago before the same annual conference, to plasticky shame).

6/14: Hearty breakfasts and a round of standby PH Guatemalan. Road trip to bustling East Troy, Wisconsin for a weekend of sun(screen), life(jackets) and beer(coolers full of kids’ juice). First canoe, kayak and motor-propelled party-barge ride for each boy, each activity either generating grins or building character. “Hey kid, want to learn how to gut a fish?”

6/21: Saturday morning, gentle toast with no coffee at all, noting that the grown-up population is still recovering form a mid-week somethingvirus.  Garage cleaning, drying and folding protective plastic from the roof and attic, shuttling in-between outdoor toys up the stairs, sorting the heap of sundries on the garage’s continental shelf onto organized, smaller piles on the tall shelves.  E to gymnastics class mid-day.  Outside play followed abruptly by a spectacular afternoon thunderstorm, two inches of rain in an hour flooding Green Bay Road and revealing old landscape patterns: a lake in the neighbor’s front yard, a waterfall down the side yard, a stream diagonally across our back lot and toward the old wetlands two doors down, still featuring giant willows, before burbling down toward the ravines.  Still enough daylight, on this solstice day, for the birds to return afterwards before an 8:30 sunset and plenty of twilight thereafter.  Sunday, E to practise swimming at the city pool at 10:30 sharp, followed by lunch and then an afternoon exploration of the headwaters of the Chicago River at the Greenbelt preserve.  Cool, sunny, waterfowl and treefowl, little frogs, and the very end of our 2-mile loop closed by a solid (well, liquid) four feet of water.  In all, then, a longer walk than planned, but a nice view of waxwings and orioles, with a bonus signpost explaining the role of GBR as marking the sub-continental divide.

6/28: A largely relaxing Saturday, the house still reasonbly tidy from Thursday’s visit by Other Jeff. Everyone to gymnastics: E to participate, J to watch a bit of Wimbledon on the waiting room monitor and dig through a tome of baseball-themed fiction, L to run laps around the grassy field outside. An evening walk with Gordon around the Lincoln-Railtrail loop. Sunday, a morning beach trip to Park Ave., only to find the post-deluge bacteria warnings. Home for a bit of Catan Junior, basement play, an afternoon trip to the Aquapark, haircuts for everyone.

Weekend notes, May

5/3: Dirt. Also, Hansa Ethiopian. More dirt! A baker’s four yards, wheelbarrowed down the neighbors’ driveway, across the hostas and down to the back 40. The Fitzgerald & Pass albums, to exercise the new 1.7/4BST setup (still sans furniture). Sunday, outside play and delivery of the balance of the dirtpile to neighbors’ ground under repair. “Swimming practise” (a.k.a. swimming), followed by leftover kale salad and potato salad for noonsies. An introduction to Ticket to Ride. Completion of dirt rearranging, planting and transplanting. Carrots, chard, pole beans, cukes, peas, squashes from seed. Beets too, but those seeds looked suspiciously unlike beets. From seedlings, raised in the mud room since late winter, toms and tillos, asparagus, ground cherries, eggplants. Pencil sketch of layout, to appoximate scale, by young J.

5/10: Additional gardening, the usual Saturday routine complete with post-swim bagels from Once Upon.  Sunday, the usual 8am pickup for ORD-NRT and the rest of the weekend folded up in 38G.

5/17: Eastward jet-lag recovery (which, ugh, stretches well into the following week).  Grand discussions of period-appropriate replacement window designs.  Rearrangement of the GTI (in and out for its annual something-worth-$1000-breaks) and 944 (this time, an increasingly fiddly ignition cylinder and oops-is-this-battery-dead-or-just-discharged).

5/24: Super-bonus weekend, with both Friday and Monday dark at the office.  Grandparental visitors from the enchanted city, who joined us for Friday swim practise (i.e. pool play) and watched lessons on Saturday. Saturday night, a Saturday night! To wit, dinner for two at Atwood followed by Britten and Shostakovich (7) at the CSO’s house. Sunday, an early bike ride to Lakefront Dr. to examine the nature of Ride the Drive. (Registration fee and photo ops? Not exactly Critical Mass.) Following, bruches at Walker Bros. Monday, a morning hike and birding at Fort Sheridan, and a short adternoon playtime at the beach.

5/31: Saturday morning, french toast, coffee and cribbage. No swim, lessons having switched to weekdays given J,E’s promotion to levels 2,3.

Weekend notes, April

4/00: One of the authors is lain up with ebola.  Or maybe a cold.  The rest of us spend the weekend ploughing through fall overgrowth in the back 40 like Ozymandias through butter.

4/12: Saturday morning, a Guatemala Asobagri from Hansa.  Note to self: when in doubt, do not purchase central american coffees.  Swim lessons in the morning, bicycle riding and kite flying in a 70-degree southerly at Independence Grove.

Sunday’s update is a guest post, courtesy of a local citizen.

First, the name of our list: “E’s favorite things at the Field Museum”.  The dinosaur that maked noise.  You pushed a lever and then it would make a trumpeting noise.  That’s one.  Going to the pyramid.  I liked seeing the mummy.  Um, what do I tell about that?    It was under the pyramid, and it was sort of wrapped in a box (the mummy box).  I liked the teepee.  The teepee’s furniture was made out of a buffalo skin.  I liked the mammoths.  I liked playing around that I was plunging animals into sticky tar.  I liked seeing the totem poles.  It seems like that’s the end of my list.

4/18 and a three-day weekend, discounting the time Friday spent glued to my laptop. Saturday a Game of Life during mme’s long run; swim; backyard baseball; lumberyard trip with E, who delighted in the forklift. A ride to the shop for a satchel of Passion House’s Guatemala El Rincon. Easter scavenger hunt featuring plastic eggs of clues and jellybeans at the end. Much of the day outside, sodding and tilling for a new garden. Or, as reported by local neighbors, a garden once-upon-a-time that we’re recreating. Buried rebar posts confirm. Boxes for raised beds constructed and awaiting fill soil, before the tomatoes can be transplanted and report, we is risen.

4/26: Friday, an evening of genuine grown-up interactions in support of Community.  Saturday backyard baseball (citizens’ choice, nearly every time) and a mustache mug of RCS house blend.  Swim.  An afternoon drive to the local transducer shop, as a part of outfitting the living room for all senses and seasons.  A chilly family dog walk around the Sunset Park south loop.  Sunday, a morning bike ride (i.e run-beside) with E, and later morning swim with J, an afternoon bike ride with E and J.  Following, a superb stout (BA link) and some stretching of the bike-riding-teacher muscles.

Weekend notes, March

3/08: Friday evening pool practice: only 16 minutes worth before 7:00 close, but enough to wear things 1 and 2 for bedtime. Saturday morning with a press pot of Metropolis Falstaff and spring cleaning. It’s well below freezing, but it hit forty yesterday. J swim lesson, and the first time I’ve seen him crawl with breathing. Maybe breast with breathing too? L and I may have missed it, rolling a basketball around in the open gym.

3/22: Friday evening swim practice with the whole family. Saturday morning pourover of a Hansa Columbian. Paper airplane construction and elaborate flying contests. J swim lesson; E elected to come and watch, sitting in the viewing room with a High Five magazine. Backyard cleanup, 85% of grassland exposed; examining drainage patterns in order to plan garden placement. Seeds sown in the mudroom, no sprouts yet.

3/29: Friday evening nothing. Something. Bathtime? Boardgames? Maybe Catan Junior? All followed by late-night skunking in the backyard. Saturday morning pourover of Passion House Rwandan. E came along again to watch swim, this time reading a book about some numbers of animals. Lots of sprouts. A spring-like shopping trip for a new helmet for thing two and new steed for thing one, followed by riding practice at the park. Sunday stew, following usual practices.

Weekend notes, February

Swim lesson practise Friday 6:15-7:00. Swim lesson Saturday 11:05-11:35, after shoveling gobs of early morning powder out of the van’s path. Our street is among first and more frequent on the plowing list, so there’s no hope beating the plow-in. Sunday 10:30-11:30, swim lesson practise again. It’s a we-like-swimming week; not all weeks are.

I woke up Sunday to the sounds of J and E playing cribbage and S brewing up some beans from Hansa. After breakfast, J scooted off to extract facts about Penguins from library books. E traces some dot-to-dots. L, recovering from a sniffly nose, became sleepy.

For the third or fourth consecitive week, Sunday temps decline steadily to a well-below-zero Monday morning. Unusually cold and snowy, the locals claim, as they slide their Teslas around town.