Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring has Sprung

We arrived home from Nashville to see that Spring had sprung while we were away. Really sort of odd because certain plants (ie. the crocus) used to bloom first. That's all changed up now. A lot of the tulips (first photo)came up first.

The hyacinths I planted are no where to be found. (though they came up last year) Hmmm.

In light of the warmer weather the last couple days coupled with later daylight, my house related work has been yard clean-up. Our ivy is a bit brown, and has leaves throughout, so I've been trying to clean that out. (I like a neat and green front yard!)

The warmer weather has also sparked my "spring/summer/fall" warm weather to do list. I don't want to be beginning warm weather projects in September. Summer also is just overall challenging because we want to fit in enjoying the weather, increased social things (bbqs and the like-since beginning work in 2003, we now actively try to maintain our social lives too), general yard maintenance issues, along with projects.

As a sneak peak of what might be in store:

1. Renting the apartment. (a fair bit of nailbiting on this one. The tenants will live below us, and share some common areas. Our first tenants liked to watch loud movies at 2 a.m. underneath our bedroom in an unfurnished hardwood floored 11 foot ceiling room. We are really hoping to find some good tenants.)
2. Repainting front fence, and concrete repairs in the front of the house.
3. Hopefully adding some seasonal interest to the south side of the front yard. Right now, it's basically sedum, a rose bush, and bulbs. I'd really like something of interest there in the winter. It's a small spot, so finding something that won't take up the whole space is a bit of challenge.

4. Radiator work! (woohoo!) We have 2 more radiators to sandblast and paint, a radiator we might repipe so it's not sitting out so far, possibly adding in a couple new radiators where a contractor wrongly put in copper baseboards.
5. Finish garage work including (1) constructing new gate to alley (2) reinstalling windows that Glenn's Dad artfully restored (3) finish paint prep on the alley side (once they city wasn't going to tear down the garage I gave that up last year) (4) install gutters and a rain barrel (5) Paint the garage another coat. (I think we only did one coat of paint color).
6. Bird defense. Be more proactive about our bird defense.

Other general "possible" for the list include:
1. Painting back porch.
2. Finish front stairs.
3. Strip buffet outside main bedroom and paint. (would be nice to get all the lead paint out of our unit).
4. Miscellaneous carpentry in our unit. Baseboard, door molding, window sills. Some of this is easy, some of it is more of a mess and challenging.

We'll have to see how far we get on this. There's an endless supply of additional projects. I also haven't really discussed Glenn's wishlist of projects with him, so things may be added.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Adventures in travel-part II

This past weekend we went away again for our second 2007 wedding in Nashville, TN. In light of last week's trip, although excited to celebrate with our friends as well as see some of Glenn's closest friends in Clarksville, Tennesee, needless to say we questioned how our second trip in the month would go.

All and all, it was a fun trip. Some humorous highlights (1) locating a hotel in Clarksville was harder than we anticipated as there was a big dance competition, many of the hotels only had suites. (2) we enjoyed several restaurants not available in Chicago, including Waffle House and Sonic. (3) I went to Cracker Barrel for the first time.

The first time we went to the Waffle House, Glenn ran into someone he knew that he served in the military with but hadn't seen or spoken to in about 10 years. The second time we went to the Waffle House (in Kentucky) they were out of Buttermilk waffles. (something I found quite humorous. A waffle house lacking in waffles? This visit was also ripe for a Saturday Night Live skit. Workers whistled "The Bridge over the River Kwai," Menonites were chatting on the cell phone.

We also learned that apparently, if you want a desk in a hotel room you must ask about it ahead of time. When we got to our hotel in Nashville, we had a big empty space but clearly a desk was missing. Glenn called downstairs, and he was asked if we "asked for a desk when we made the reservation?" (we did not realize we needed to do this). A hunt around the property insued, ending with a larger woman arriving outside our door, panting, with a desk that she "found in the refinishing area of the basement" She definitely gets kudos for lugging it up a couple flights of stairs assumably by herself.

Finally, en route home we called ahead for a hotel using our Garmin GPS. We thought we made reservation for Hampton Inn. We get off the highway, and no Hampton Inn could be found though Daniel (the name we gave our GPS based on the name of the guy giving us directions) said we had 'arrived'. So, call number 2, and new directions, which were the same that Daniel had. Finally, I call the number a third time, and we realize that the hotel we had reserved at was actually the "Pear Tree Inn"

No more trips planned for the near term, so we will get back to just doing house related projects. I've come up with a spring/summer to do list, that will be in another post.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Our adventurous weekend

No, it didn't involve leprechauns, green beer or kettles of gold (or hammers, jigsaws, or radiators). Instead, our adventure was more along the lines of where there's a will, there's a way.

Saturday, my cousin got married outside of Philadelphia. Little did we know when we left our house on Friday that a horrible storm was going to reak havoc on many of the guests trying to get there on Friday, including yours truly.

We woke up at 5:30 a.m, heading to the airport to find out at 9:20 a.m. that our flight, along with the next 3 flights got canceled. Glenn and I used our real world power tools-a blackberry, a laptop, one cell phone, and our eyes and ears to immediately assess the situation and determine our best way of getting to Philadelphia in time for the rehearsal dinner that night. (or at the least, the wedding). I scoured the "departure" screens (a great perk at O'Hare as there are yads of flights everywhere) to locate the closest city that had flights going to it (new york, hartford, and boston were all showing cancellations)I noticed that flights were leaving every hour from B12 to D.C, so with phones to ears we started walking.

We were greeted by a line of 6 people at a "check-in desk" without an employee, an open door leading down the gangway and a ticket checker nearby. Glenn went in one line, and I walked up to the ticket checker asking if he had any seats on the plane. Well, yes, yes he did. I asked for them, he quickly obliged, grabbing our Philadelphia boarding passes and telling us he didn't have time to give us new boarding passes. Instead, he said head to 10A and 10B (exit row and together, no less!). By 9:55 we were on a plane to the east coast!

We continued our furious phone calls to rearrange our car reservation, find out about baggage, and alert family members. While en route to D.C. we came up with the idea to arrange lunch with my uncle and cousin (who were in town from Hungary). This involved a quick call to my Grandmom.

After lunch, we started our journey by car to the Philadelphia area. First, it was traffic and rain. Then, the traffic dwindled a bit, but it was ice, sleet, and some snow tossed in. At some points we saw car after car by the side of the road (having clearly glided out of control for a bit). We made a stop at Kohl's on the way in hopes of finding some wedding attire and other necessities since our luggage stayed in Chicago. (we checked bags because of the toiletry restriction). During our route, we got calls from various family members (including a franctic groom). Finally at 10 p.m. we showed up at the rehearsal dinner. After the dinner, we had to borrow an ice scraper, as the car was not equiped. (neither were we!)

The next day, we got up early to find some wedding attire for me and get some toiletries. (a rave for target on that! one stop shopping!) We had called the airline to ask that our luggage stay in Chicago as we wouldn't be able to pick it up. But, they decided to send it to Philadelphia anyway.

On Sunday, we had simple goals- (1) cheesesteaks with the family (2) visit my alma mater (Penn) to get a sweatshirt and show Glenn around (3) find our luggage in Philadelphia (4) recheck the luggage and safely travel home. But, remember, this weekend was about unplanned adventure.

First, we lined up all the cheesesteak partakers, creating a caravan of sorts. (1) Glenn and I in our rental (2) My mom and older brother in her car (3) my brother and his girlfriend in her car (4) a long lost cousin in his rental car (5) and my Dad and his wife in the caboose.

The sun was shining, roads were much better, and we were making good time. Then the red light goes on in the dashboard, the car seems to be overheating. We exit the highway (wondering exactly what kind of neighborhood we were going to) and the car makes it to the end of the exit ramp before promptly dying. The car rental place tells me it will be 2 hours until a replacement car can be delivered. Thankfully, I was finally able to get a hold of my Dad who came by and picked us up and we left the car by the side of the road.

At the airport, we had to sift through a sea of bags to find ours. Hundreds were just sitting there. I was really surprised that they weren’t locked up more.

So back we are, safe and sound. Despite the bumps in the road during the trip, I’m so thankful that (1) we maneuvered well on Friday and made it to the wedding safe and sound and (2) that if our car were to die it did so on a sunny day with many family members around and not on Friday in the middle of nowhere in an icestorm.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Enough with being nice.

Today, we were attacked on two fronts, and I think the battle has just begun.

First, as mentioned before, we have a bit of an issue with birds congregating on our back porch. This was made worse when Glenn installed the jungle gym (a.k.a. radiator lift). Last year I think we were a tad bit nice, leading to a nest, babies, and a bunch of bird friends moving in. Then, we upped our protection, by buying some Shot-Gun Repels-All animal repellant (a mix of dried blood, purescent whole egg solids, garlic oil and a bunch of other stuff)

Yesterday morning, Glenn headed out there to spray some more after a dove just stared back at him through the window. (the audacity!) This of course, was after a a week or two of my banging on the window. The stuff did work for a couple months, though, which has been a great respite. And, the birds have been staying away since he sprayed yesterday morning.

Now, birds are not our only problem. They recruited an ally.

See how nestled in it looks? We can't have bunnies! I really like our yard, and I already have to combat grubs, slugs, mushrooms, and a variety of other pests. I don't need anything else to attack!

I went out there, sprayed our magic potion, and it left. But, a couple hours later it was back. Sigh. I think this will be quite a spring.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Election Day

It's over...and we won! My day as an election lawyer was very different from the last time around (in Wisconsin for the Presidential election). I had repeated discussions with people saying to me "but this is Chicago." Trickled in were warnings of intimidation and the "thugs" that congregate at polling places. Prior to the day, I naively discounted that thinking that nothing like that would happen in MY neighborhood. It was explained to me that some of the people congregating might have jobs on the line, thinking that if their candidate won, they would get great jobs. Fist fights outside of polling places are not unusual.

I was called to my precinct for some other drama, but got a first hand view of the "thugs." All big guys (including the ones handing out flyers for our candidate). I was again cautioned that even though they look harmless I should just let the police deal with them. I did go out there nonetheless a few times, without incident, and they all complied to what I said. My favorite was when two police officers asked me about electioneering, so I brought them outside to show them some issues. I wish I had a picture. I was in the middle, in a black suit. I was flanked on either side with an undercover cop, each with multiple weapons displayed and visible. The irony was, at this time, one of the "thugs" showed some overt hostility to me.

When we (another attorney and I) ended up leaving, some of the guys threw snow at us. A bit childish, but nothing we couldn't handle. That night, at the victory party, it was kind of funny to hear these various guys come up to Glenn and say "your wife kept on going and confronting the thugs." (a bit of an exaggeration on many fronts). It painted a portait much grander than the issue. I still do not feel like I was under any threat. I think the campaign workers out there would be at greater risk.

On a sadder front, in the 24th ward, a campaign worker handing out flyers was beaten with a stick. Absolutely unbelievable and a travesty. Noone should have any fear with expressing his or her opinion. It also gives me a greater understanding of why voter turn out may be low.

Now, I can get back to house stuff...

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