Merry Christmas and the “Magical Macy’s Christmas Tree”

This post is courtesy of Cher from her blog, The Chicago Files.  I thought it was the perfect way to wish everyone a Merry Christmas because this tree is one of the best things about My Fair City during the holidays.


macys-christmas-tree-2016-2Well isn’t this absolutely spectacular! I took this photo today while strolling around Macy’s Department store in downtown Chicago.  I absolutely love this tree! It is breathtaking and reminds me of a winter wonderland! How beautiful! I had to share it with you of course!

Source: Magical Macy’s Christmas Tree!

The Sun Is Out to Get Me…Hip-Hip-Hip-Hooray!

The Boffin and I just dropped off The Sprog at Sunday school and were driving to the grocery store eastbound on one of the characteristically straight main roads that are so common in the grid system that connects Chicagoland. I was in the passenger seat, and the sun’s position was such that its rays decided that it would be fun to bore a hole into my temple. All I wanted to do was get some food, and the sun wants to play Space Invaders with my brain.

As I flipped the visor over, I opined in my genteel way about how the sun is harsher here in the Midwest as opposed to the Northeast. I believe I said something along the lines of, “The sun’s an asshole!”

This when The Boffin explained to me that the sun is no different here. We aren’t driving on roads that bend and twist as much. I am sitting in the same position for a longer period, therefore the sun has more of an opportunity to fry my cranium.

But I maintain since the sun takes advantage of the grid system and my vulnerablity, at the very least, it acts like a five-year-old with a magnifying glass, and I am a mere ant.

See.  It is just matter of time before it starts using me for target practice.  Dick.  "Giant prominence on the sun erupted" by NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center
See. It is just matter of time before it starts using me for target practice. “Giant prominence on the sun erupted” by NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Regardless, Chicagoland, the grid system is overrated. A few fluctuations in the roads can decrease head trauma. Or spouses like The Boffin from rants like mine.

Veiled Communication at Its Best


In other words…

Dear Chicago Residents:

We know you do not like piles of crap in the park, but we are working on it.  Give us a chance, will ya?

We also know you hate it when we have these massive concerts like Lollapalooza because of the hordes of people causing mess, disturbance, and general mayhem, but you have a choice here.  We can either up your taxes even more, so you can have your nice parks, or we can have big events, and you have to learn to live with the inconvenience once in a while.  Are we clear?  Good.  Now shut up.


The Chicago Park District

One Year Later…

Getting ready...
Getting ready…

It was around this time last year that I attended the Chicago Writers’ Conference without much of a clue of what I wanted except that I eventually I wanted to write and somehow make a living out of it eventually.

I walked into the kickoff party held in a packed “Irish” pub in the middle of The Loop.  People could hardly get through because of the conference organizers were doing early check-in of attendees.  The early arrivals got the primo spots on the small wooden tables and uncomfortable stools with laminated index cards as conversation starters.  I managed to overhear someone read a card about Hemingway being detrimental to the craft.  I didn’t think Star 80 was that bad.

But they could have been talking about Tolstoy for all I truly knew.  Flightlines with running F-15s were quieter than this place was.  I am not going to make that same mistake tonight.  There will be plenty of opportunity to drink at the Live Lit reading tomorrow.

Regarding the conference itself, I learned a lot, took a bunch of notes, and was left even more overwhelmed and baffled than when I started.  The writing and publishing world is a business in flux, to say the least.  Despite my complete lack of schmoozing skills and my anxiety about large social situations, I did manage to make some small talk with some hopefuls.  Imagine the shock when they asked me for business cards.

I had nothing to give them.

So I ended up going to an Office Depot that was shutting down, bought a pack, and wrote my details on them.  I was such a dork.

I learned from that too. There is a back to this.
I learned from that too. There is a back to this with more information.

It was time and money well spent because I was smacked with reality.  I could research for hours.  I could seek advice from a myriad of writers and editors.  I could read how-to books and articles.  I could get samples of putting the perfect pitch together.   I could catalog and index all sorts of information.  But that was not going to change one thing.

I was afraid.

I was afraid of putting my words out in public.

Until I could do that, everything else was pointless.  And it took going to this conference and some Come to Moses talks with The Boffin to make me dig down into the vulnerable gelatinous areas of my psyche.   You know, the part that tell you that you are woefully inadequate.

Starting small was key.

Hence, here I am on WordPress.

And where do I go from here?  Freelancing is still a good option, but I admit there are times when the old-fashioned route of conveniently dying and having The Sprog deal with my work is appealing.  Hey, it is a valid career path for writers.  They don’t have to worry about networking or promotion.

But for now, I am at the conference this year knowing I don’t have to make business cards with crayons.

Back in Time on Our Birthdates

Finding out the Chicago Tribune has its archives online for free is going to give me lots of blog fodder, so you are going to have to indulge me. I’m having fun.

Naturally, what do you do when you are confronted with newspaper archives?  You look up what happened on the day you were born, of course.  And what was in the national news?

May 2nd 1973 Pt1 May 2nd 1973 Pt2b

Yay! Watergate!  And there were ads suggesting vacuum cleaners were great gifts for Mom on Mother’s Day.

Meanwhile, The Boffin, as a future American, had this as a headline.

July 16th 1971

Crossing borders and international diplomacy. The highpoint of the Nixon presidency.

Of course, you can’t treat the news like it is a horoscope. I can’t very well say that I inherited my skepticism of national government because I was born in the throes of Watergate anymore than the reason The Boffin holds the importance of globalization is because of the announcement of Nixon’s China visit on his birthdate. That’s daft.

But we are a product of our times, and if anything, these news articles show where it started for us. My thoughts are going back to when we were kids and the era of the Big Bad Soviet Union, the wedding waltz of Reagan and Thatcher, and worrying if those imposing nuclear warheads were actually going to be launched.

I remember a conversation I had with one of my elementary school teachers. The gist of it went like this.

“Why are the grownups fighting so much? We are doing Bad Things too.”

“But Our Bad Things are to stop them doing Their Bad Things.”

“Wouldn’t it just be easier to just do Nice Things?”

“But if we did just Nice Things, they would do Bad Things, and we would lose.”

“Lose what?”

“Our American way of life.”

“But we would shoot missiles at each other, and we would all die.”

“Go talk to your parents, Karen.”

Yes, I was one of those kids.

Be that as it may, I encourage you to go into the link above, and check out the archive.  Put in your birthdate, and see what happened.  (Sorry Britons, it is best to do it American style, i.e.  May 2, 1973).  Feel free to share what you find.  What kind of a world were you born into?

A Shoutout to Northwest Community Hospital

Picture courtesy of The Daily Herald
Picture courtesy of The Daily Herald

Now that The Boffin is home from the hospital and things are settling, we have to take the time to say thank you to the crack team at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) in Arlington Heights, IL  for taking such great care of him.

It all started with The Boffin’s thinking he had indigestion the Saturday before last.  In a few hours, he was left writhing with upper abdominal pain and actually stating he needed to go to a doctor.  (If he was going to fight it, I was going to drag him at that point.)  Upon a trip to one of NCH’s weekend clinics, after an exam, an EKG, and a phone to the NCH’s emergency room, the adventure began, and we made our way to the ER.  He was on a bed within 2 minutes of arrival.   The doctor examined him, and the nurse injected him with pain meds within 20 minutes.  After a CAT scan and the discovery of a partial small bowel obstruction with a twist, he was kept in the observation area overnight.  The Boffin stated that he never felt abandoned, nor left to his own devices.

The staff maintained the same level of attentiveness throughout the rest of his stay when he moved into the hospital proper.  The nurses and assistants were even asking me, if I needed anything.  We even had a visit from a volunteer asking me if I were happy with The Boffin’s care and what else they could do to improve what they do.  (The Boffin was getting tests at the time.) It wasn’t cloying and constant; it was just enough to feel like they were there and on top of things.

Even the small things made life easier.  The electronic patient board was helpful, so I knew where The Boffin was, if he happened not to be in his room.  Knowing that his room had a love seat that could turn into a bed brought peace of mind.  I love the ease of their electronic records transfer, so we don’t have to lug x-rays or anything else to The Boffin’s GP and his new gastroenterologist.

Most importantly, they did everything possible to avoid surgery while clearing the blockage, and The Boffin is back at work today because of their know-how.

So, Northwest Community Hospital, thank you again.

From the bottom of our hearts,

The Boffin and Karen

Another Refugee Crisis

Let’s go back to March 1938. Fortunately, the Chicago Tribune made their archives available online, so we can see what the newspaper reported at that time.

Setting the scene, Germany has already annexed Austria and well on its way to its other deeds that we don’t have to rehash.  Meanwhile, President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull are appealing to the other nations for asylum for the Jews.


Well, the editors at the Trib had something to say about that.

The Abuse of Asylum

Translation: We don’t want more of those Commie Jew Bastards here.  They are a complete threat to us and our clean American way of life!

Then, the Trib strikes the balance with its letters to the editor with pro and anti viewpoints.

Voice of the People

And President Roosevelt was getting flak from Congress over the idea of extending visas to Jews already in the country.

Roosevelt Plan

We know the outcome to this story.

I guess nothing changes.

Or can it?