Nature Weekend

August 25th, 2015 No comments

Our weekend centered around nature activities which is always right up my alley.

Saturday we visited the Chicago Botanic Garden and saw the famous Corpse Flower that’s been in the news lately. It wasn’t our reason for visiting, actually, but still pretty cool to see. Our favorite sighting, however, was a ruby-throated hummingbird hanging out in the gardens when you first enter. There were two hanging out when we first arrived and we spotted another one two hours later when we were leaving. I wish I had remembered my 250mm lens but the picture I got wasn’t too bad considering I only had the 135mm.

Some of my favorite photos from our visit:




Saturday evening we visited my parents and played our newest game – Exploding Kittens. It was quite fun! We also played Cards Against Humanity with Joe’s homemade cards. Brother # 1 ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning coming up with more ideas for all the blank cards we still have. I got an email at 3:18 am with a huge list. He’s funny.

Sunday we did some grocery shopping in the morning since it was overcast and rainy. That cleared up around noon so we headed to Morton Arboretum and drove around. I remembered my 250mm lens this time and captured what I believe is a white-breasted nuthatch.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Monday I met up with a friend at Cosley Zoo so I could give her some LEGOs and playdoh stuff for her kids. I figured why not give it to someone who will make use of it. It’s not like we’re going to play with it anymore. I held onto the playdoh too long as it was and the majority of it dried up but there were a few cans that were still good, plus a ton of accessories to shape the playdoh. It was hard parting with it because I have such fond playdoh memories but we haven’t played with it for over five years so there was no sense in letting it continue to take up space in the closet. Plus it freed up a plastic storage tote that I can re-purpose.

Anyway, I met her two children who are super adorable and pretty well-behaved for being a year and a half and four years old. The four year old, C, was NOT happy when we were ready to leave, however. He cried all the way back to the car. Poor guy. It was nice to catch up with her and meet her kids. I wish we could hang out more often but she’s so busy with family stuff, plus she lives about an hour away so the timing never seems to line up. I’m hoping she and her husband can make another game night. I’d like to have one sometime in October I think. Gotta unleash Exploding Kittens on more people!

Block Party

August 9th, 2015 No comments

I forgot to mention that Saturday evening there was a block party in the neighborhood. I made two batches of brownies and brought them over. I was a bit dismayed to see a plate of brownies already there but not as much after tasting them – mine were much better. ;)

Anyway, we made conversation with our neighbor across the street and the woman who organized the event but most people segregated off into groups who already knew each other so after eating and hanging out for an hour we left. I always feel awkward at such events. I don’t dislike socializing but I’m not the type of person to approach strangers and strike up a conversation. If someone does the same to me, however, I’m happy to speak to them.

Categories: Neighborhood Tags:

Oak Park Conservatory

August 9th, 2015 No comments

Purple Flower

Saturday we decided to visit the Oak Park Conservatory because we were too lazy to get up early and go somewhere further from home. When we arrived they were working outside on the building – it turns out they are adding landscaping plus a new outside garden. From what I’ve read the project was supposed to be done in May but it looks like it just began so I’m guessing we’ll see the end result next year.

The conservatory is pretty small so we were there under an hour but it was fun to use my SLR again. Plus I love the parrots, turtles, and koi that call the building home.

While driving around Oak Park for a bit I spotted a building that looked suspiciously like the Marshall Fields in the Loop until changing to Macy’s. After a quick Google search I learned it was in fact a Fields for many years before going out of business. I have a good architectural eye I guess; Joe was impressed, anyway.

After we drove around Oak Park for a bit we had lunch at Penny’s Noodle Shop. I first fell in love with Pad Se Ew at their Chicago location on Diversey about twenty years ago (although I didn’t know what it was called at the time). Unfortunately it isn’t as good as I remembered. I’m not sure if that’s because I had an inexperienced Asian palate at the time or the food has changed. In any case, their Pad Thai, which Joe ordered, was quite good, so I’d probably get that if we ever dined there again (although I doubt we’d bother).

Categories: Excursions, Photos Tags:

Too Much Death

August 9th, 2015 No comments

An aunt passed away this week and her wake/funeral was on Friday. In case anyone is keeping track, that’s four deaths in less than a year – uncle, aunt, friend, aunt. Is this what I have to look forward to as I grow older – more and more people I know shuffling off this mortal coil? It’s depressing.

The wake was held at a funeral home in Frankfort and my aunt was buried in Chicago, so that made for an hour long funeral procession. I’ve never been in such a time-consuming procession before and it made me nervous, especially since some of the public weren’t paying attention and almost hit a few cars that were continuing through the red lights as one typically does in a funeral procession.

There were more than few bizarre things that happened during this event:

1) The more I reflect on the pastor’s eulogy, the more I dislike the guy. He spoke about how everyone is going to die some day (thanks, bud, I already have a massive fear of dying and do not need any further reminders) but that our spirits will live on in heaven. He also made a big to do about how we shouldn’t forget about my uncle since he has many lonely nights ahead of him, which is true, but insensitive. In addition, the pastor said he just couldn’t imagine losing his wife of 45 years. Uh, rubbing it in much?!?! Nothing this man said was any solace to me, but maybe it helped others. I just don’t buy the whole concept that our spirits live on forever, and I was raised Catholic! All of it rings false to me. Trust me, I would love it if I could get on board with the idea because it would certainly ease my mind about not existing one day. Unfortunately, I think once you die that’s it; you go back to nothing, spiritually and physically. It will be great if it turns out I’m wrong and God doesn’t hold a grudge against me for not believing, though.

2) At the grave site, while the pastor was saying some final words, my uncle was casually leaning against my aunt’s casket with one hand.

3) After the service, as we were leaving the cemetery, I saw my uncle standing by his limo drinking a beer.

4) The place where the luncheon was held had a dove aviary in the front of the building. It was so odd. But what was funny is that I was one of the few, if not only, people who even noticed it immediately as we walked toward the banquet room. Most people didn’t notice it until leaving the restaurant.

Dove Aviary

I don’t know what any of my uncle’s behavior means, or if it even means anything; people grieve in strange ways. He was married to my aunt for 35+ years (his third marriage) but I have no idea what their relationship was like. I rarely spoke to her because we usually saw my uncle at my grandparents’ or parents’ house and he never brought her along. Her heart belonged to animals, not people, from what I knew of her – she worked at a humane society and they had the equivalent of a zoo in their homes. It only grew larger once they moved to their most recent home which had a ton of acreage and a barn. I’ve heard stories about the number of animals living on their property but the last time we were invited over was literally a decade ago, so I don’t know much other than what my cousin has mentioned. Maybe my uncle is one of those people who has a hard time expressing his true feelings. He has always been known as the one who cracks jokes so who knows.

Anyway, it was just a weird day. It was nice to see certain family members but I wish it was under better circumstances.

Categories: Family, Photos, Rants & Observations Tags:

Staycation Days 8-11

July 27th, 2015 No comments

Staycation Day 8 (Friday July 24)

Despite going to bed late on Thursday, we were still prepared to visit the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana on Friday. Instead of getting there at 11 am when they opened, however, we decided to arrive later at 2 pm so we could all get some much needed rest.

Brother #1 accompanied us and our first stop was Dan’s Pierogis where I ordered three potato & sweet cheese pierogis and three sweet cheese pierogis but ended up with six all potato pierogis. I went back to complain and they gave me three sweet cheese ones. Apparently their cook dumped the potatoes in the bin labeled sweet cheese. I’m not sure what happened with the combo ones but next year I’m just getting sweet cheese across the board because they are the only good ones anyway. I also tried a taco pierogi at a different truck which was quite good.

We were all a little spent after so much walking the day before so we only spent about two hours at the fest. We ran into my cousin as we were leaving which was funny.

We stopped at a Little Caesars nearby to get one of those pretzel crust pizzas with the pepperoni and cheddar cheese sauce and took it back to my parents’ to eat. When we arrived Brother #2 was there holed up in his room. Apparently at some point he went to take a shower but not once did he stop in the kitchen to say hello. I seriously don’t understand him. Incidentally, I invited him and his girlfriend through her (since he doesn’t reply to my texts) to Indiana Beach and the fest but she said they were working. Which is fine, but he didn’t even acknowledge it or any of us when we were there. The last text I got from him was in February and it was “thanks” after I wished him a happy birthday. I texted him prior to that and he didn’t reply and once after that and he didn’t reply. On top of that, not once has either of them invited us to do something with them even when they are literally fifteen minutes from our house. I don’t get it. But I’m at the point I don’t care to get it anymore. He’s self-centered and rude and I’m done. I just hope he realizes he’s the reason we don’t have a relationship – not me. I can only try so many times before I feel like a fool for even bothering.


After eating our pizza and chatting for a bit we decided to go home. We just weren’t in the mood for another late night.

Staycation Day 9 (Saturday July 25)

Everyone was still feeling pooped. E didn’t even want to join us at the pool so we went alone. When we got back he asked if it was ok if he went home so he could hang out with his friends (before leaving for the pool we gave him the option since we could tell he was kinda bored). I tried not to let that hurt my feelings since at his age (17) who can blame him? We were just going to sit around watching movies the rest of the evening anyway and he was due to go home in the morning. So after dropping him off at home we went to the arboretum to see the LEGO exhibit. Then we stopped at Whole Foods for some shampoo and Panda Express for dinner.

When we got home I helped Joe clean all the bug guts off the Escape. We also officially met some of our neighbors including a couple who just moved in two weeks ago. They have a beautiful big St. Bernard which my mom would love.

Staycation Day 10 (Sunday July 26)

We didn’t do much but runs some errands (Target, Costco, Target again haha) and watch TV.

Staycation Day 11 (Monday July 27)

Joe was back at work. I had contemplated going in so I could play catch-up but I had a rough night sleep-wise and my stomach was bothering me so I didn’t get out of bed until 11 am. Then I cleaned the house for a few hours and watched some YouTube videos. I’m not really looking forward to going back to work, but then again when am I?

Categories: Excursions Tags: