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POST 41 The Past Is Gone But Something Might Be Found….

gin blossoms… to take its place.

Gin Blossoms, 1989

We started writing this blog about three months ago. The decision to build a new home, to almost downsize, was fresh in our minds and we were looking forward to the building process. Here we are forty posts, almost 3,500 page views, countless song and other pop cultural references later–but still no hole in the ground! We are getting closer (we hope), still enjoying the process (we think), and I am still enjoying writing (I know.) So with this entry I want to let you know that the blog will also be moving. This will be my last post at this site. Beginning with my next full post I will be joining the blogging crew at ChicagoNow.

ChicagoNow is managed by Tribune Media Group and is populated by writers with a wide variety of interests, but mostly with a Chicagoland point of view. The site will be a little more splashy, and a little better publicized than the current site, but I don’t anticipate too much change to the blog contents. Still a mix of construction news, family life in the suburbs, and anything else that interests me, and hopefully you.

Why did I decide to make the change? A few reasons. First, with the exception of Emily Dickinson, any one who writes hopes to be read. If I do my part well, I think ChicagoNow will help to increase readership.

Second, anyone who writes hopes to write better. I have read a book or two on writing, but I can use additional resources. ChicagoNow has a community of bloggers, as well as a “community manager” who are there to give advice and help as needed. I hope to benefit from these assets.

Third, anyone who writes hopes to make some money from it, and since a few of the ChicagoNow bloggers actually make a buck or two from Tribune Media,  that may exist for me down the road. But as Barb has warned me, we are building a house and I better not forget that I have a day job!

What is the address for the new site? The URL for the main page is:

http://www.chicagonow.com/downsize-maybe/

I expect that each new post will have a unique address. It will be at least a day or two before anything appears there, and when it does I will be sure to get word out to all my Facebook, LinkedIn and email followers. If you are a subscriber  to the current site, check the above link in a few days and subscribe there.

Thanks for following us thus far, and hope to see you all at ChicagoNow.

POST 40 Here We Are Now,,,,,,

nirvana…entertain us.

Nirvana–1991

Did you read the scientific report, based on analytical data, that named Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most iconic song of all time?  Now I have nothing against the song. In fact, it is the ringtone for our son Michael on my cellphone, even though he hasn’t been a teenager for a dozen years. But I looked up the definition of an icon, and church images not withstanding, it means “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.” So this is the most representative symbol of music ever? Because of “analytical data”? As any SABREmatrician loving baseball fan will tell you, sometimes you just have to watch the game.

In the arts, agreeing on an icon of just about anything is a near impossible task. While it may be achievable for some one hit wonder novelty band (for example, the “Archies” will always be known for “Sugar, Sugar”)  I would think that the more successful a a particular artist is, the harder it would be to pick out the one piece that defines them. Take Frank Sinatra or the Beatles, Meryl Streep or Picasso. There is no way to agree on a single work that these artists will be eternally remembered for. Each evolved in their calling, tried on different shoes, never allowing one pair to get too comfortable. I thought  Bob Dylan might be an exception, that despite his lengthy career and varying styles, everyone would agree that “Like a Rolling Stone” was his masterpiece. But a quick Internet search turned up 10 “Best of Dylan” lists, with 10 different songs at number one.  And no mathematical formula to tell us which list is best!

So what does any of this have to do with building our house? Well, we drove through the sub-division last night, and discovered that Thorngate does have an icon. And it is…..the muntin. I can already hear some of you asking “What is a muntin?” Muntins, for the architecturally naive among you*, are the wood strips that separate the glass in a window into several smaller panes. They have been around since the 16th century, and if you live in Thorngate, you gotta have ’em on your windows. They are, and there is no other way to say it, iconic! So with the concordance of the holy trinity (Barb, our architect, and the Homeowners Review Committee), have ’em we will!

So a year from now, when I look out at a gray and rainy day like today, I will be looking past our muntins. And probably humming “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Have a good weekend, all.

*don’t worry, before we started this project that included me.

POST 39 IF Barb were to Write a Blog Post….

barb….it might go like this.

(Note–Barb did NOT write this!)

Hi. Les has asked me a few times if I wanted to write a post, and even did a reader survey about it a few weeks ago. But I have been comfortable letting Les do the blogging while I keeps my tasks in the background. And by the way, that “interview” of me way back when was totally a fabrication of my dear husband’s mind.

Most people assume that the decision to build the new house is mine, but actually Les has been more of the driving force. I love our home, especially the kitchen we updated last year. I treasure the marble counter top on the island, even if my heart skips a beat every time something spills on it. Instead of being able to show it off when we entertain, I keep it covered with a double layer of table cloths. But nothing has the wonderful feel of marble, and Les admits it makes the perfect surface for folding laundry. It will be hard to give up, but even if we duplicate the kitchen in the new house, I have pledged that we will be marble free.

Besides the house, I love the land we are on. I have cultivated the landscaping through the years to get it just right, and every spring I welcome the challenge of picking the colors for the annual beds and flower pots. And with the last few years as a member of the sub-division’s Board and Landscaping Committee I have been able to work on some lovely enhancements for the neighborhood.

So no, it has not been me pushing for a change. But looking to the future, a first floor master bedroom makes sense for us and for Max (my biggest and best), even if the kitten (who is just so cute) seems fine scurrying up and down the stairs at the speed of sound. And I understand Les’s interest in shortening his commute. If he is going to work another ten years or so, he should make the travel as comfortable as he can.

So we have had our tasks cut out for us for the past few months making sure the old house shines, setting up the financing, planning and negotiating. And now we move ahead to the future. The new house, being a modified ranch, will be a unique design for the neighborhood, but I won’t let it look shabby or as if it doesn’t belong. That is why the exterior is so important. The right roof, the right stone and the right windows will go a long way.

I am hard at work on the interior too. Les had his desires and opinions on the layout, but he trusts me with the furnishing and decorating. I am being prudent, and we will be repurposing quite a bit of our current furniture. A little fabric makeover can go a long way! So between the new house, working at two different clinics, baby sitting, tennis and mahjong, you can see why blogging has not been at the top of my list! This will be the last you hear from me for a while. But I am sure Les will keep you filled in. And if you ask,  he may even let the cat and dog scribble here now and then 🙂

Cheers,

Barb

POST 38 Old Friends….

s and g…sat on their park bench like bookends.

Simon and Garfunkel–1968

Two old friends stepped into my life recently. First, someone I had not seen since I changed schools after third grade stopped by my office. At first, and second, glance I had no idea who he was, though as I have said, I have a hard time recognizing faces that I have seen twenty minutes ago, much less 50 years ago. When he gave me his name though, I immediately recognized it.  There were memories of playing in his living room while his mother listened to “Sunrise, Sunset” in the kitchen. But the re-connection with him was odd, and as I later told Barb, slightly unsettling. It was hard to tell why he had really stopped by. In the end I realized he was just peddling nutritional supplements. A fiddler on the roof.

My other old friend did not need to introduce himself, though he may turn out to be unsettling too. For the first time in years I am wrapped up in a novel by Stephen King. I still list The Stand and The Shining among my all-time faves, but somewhere around the time of Misery and Gerald’s Game my interest in King’s stories disappeared. Yet hunting for an audio book at the library last week I picked up a relatively new King novel, Finders Keepers. So far no shivers down my spine, and no elements of horror or the supernatural. I hope at least a few tingles lay  ahead.

King is one of many authors that I used to enjoy but I have since “let go.” James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Nelson DeMille —  I used to eagerly await their new works, now my eyes pass over them on the library shelves without stopping. It becomes a constant challenge to find new authors to listen to during my long (but soon to be shortened!) commute and to read before I drift off to sleep. I have discovered a new friend or two,  but there is always room for more.

Speaking of friends, just read a blog entry from my friend and mentor who is standing up to cancer. His amazing outlook and perspective always inspire me.

Nothing new on the home building front. Plumbing and electrical drawings in progress. Not sure how much later in the year we will be able to pour concrete, so we need things to get moving.

Two questions before I sign off. Who inspires you? And who should I be reading? All answers appreciated.

POST 37 Hey, Hey, Mama….

max…said the way you move.

Black Dog

Led Zeppelin – 1971

Sunday brought a quick visit from our builder, an alternative to watching the end of the Bears game. Stone, roof and windows are still the topic of debate, or at least the subject of conversation. Since the new house is a modified ranch we will have a very large, highly visible, roof. The Homeowners Association Architectural Review Committee is suggesting an upgraded roofing material. We may go down that road, though it will put a dent in the “discretionary” costs fund. The builder just keeps on telling Barb, “Anything you pick out will look great.” (Of course, he is right!)

Didn’t we have lovely weather this weekend! While the Cubs wore their balaclavas in New York City, we were basking under sunny blue skies and moderate temperatures. Saturday was a perfect afternoon to take Max for a walk. Max seemed to think so too, running to the back door when I suggested the mile and a quarter turn around the Heron’s Landing loop, and sitting patiently while I put on his collar and leash.

Max was never a runner, but he used to be a decent walker. Four or five mile walks with a water stop at Dominick’s were part of his regular routine. But that was a few years ago. Now the Dominick’s is a Mariano’s and spry young Max is  eleven, and as we all know, that is 77 in dog years. Much of his black coat has turned grey and he is sleeping more and more. He is getting a little more cranky, and a lot more jealous of the kitten. But he was freshly groomed last week, looked like a cool young dude, and had a bit of bounce in his step.

So we set out on our walk, me listening to my tunes on Pandora, Max leaving his  liquid greeting card at almost every house to let the ladies know he had stopped by.  About two-thirds of the way around the loop we came to our fork in the road. At that point there is an offshoot that leads to the front entrance of the subdivision. I had a little blue bag I needed to drop off in the garbage can by the mail boxes there, so I gave Max’s collar a little tug to let him know that I needed us to take the little side trip.

Max didn’t exactly crumple, but it soon became clear  the loyal old trail horse was barely up to walking the extra quarter of a mile. Eleven years of climbing the stairs has taken its toll. Every joint must be aching. I can see his eyes telling us “No more stairs. Build the damn ranch already!” You got it boy! Just be sure you hang around to enjoy it.

Have a great day, and give your dog a hug.

POST 36 Sir or Madam….

beatles…..will you read my book.

Paperback Writer

The Beatles — 1966

If you are a young boy growing up in the 60’s in Chicago and you want to be a hockey player you idolize Hull and Mikita. If you dream of becoming a baseball All Star you either go to Wrigley to watch Ernie slug,  or you go to Comiskey to watch Little Luis field. Want to be in the movies?  You imitate cool Paul Newman or deadly Sean Connery. See a future as a newspaper columnist? You religiously read Holtzman and Bombeck. Wait, did he just say “Bombeck? Erma Bombeck??”

Anyone remember Erma? If you do, it is probably as a contributor to Good Morning America palling around with Joan Lunden and David Hartman. I never caught the show, being a loyal Today Show viewer, but Erma and I go way, way, back. In the 60’s Erma was a syndicated columnist whose “At Wit’s End” column appeared 3 or 4 times a week in the Chicago Sun-Times.  She was documenting the life of a suburban mom, a “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,”  but with a little more bite. And this is what a city kid from Rogers Park wanted to read about? I must have been having visions of what my life would eventually become. Well not a suburban MOM exactly, but you know what I mean.

Certainly there were other columnists I could choose from. Jerome Holtzman was a sports writing legend. Art Buchwald pointed his finger at the odd doings in pre-Watergate Washington, D.C.  Mike Royko did the same for Chicago and the first Mayor Daley. And in contrast to Erma, Royko was always so ^&#$%^ angry. So I settled in with Mrs. Bombeck and learned about suburbia.

Instant karma’s going to get you. Barb and I, suburban parents and grandparents,  building our third home and hoping to keep a sense of humor about it. This week we are dealing with windows; picture windows are nice, but we want real windows that we can open to let a spring breeze in. We are hunting for  an exterior stone that won’t break the budget, either ours or the U.S. Treasury’s. The architect has sent a drawing entitled “Down spout other info.” If I post it here, maybe someone can tell me what all the “other info” is.

Sometimes it seems painful, but the house will get built. In the meantime, I will just keep posting to ease the pain. And wonder what Erma would have had to say about all this.

Have a great weekend.