Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I went to see a super cool performance tonight. It was called The Encyclopedia Show and it was full of humor and heart. This show is created around randomly opening to a page of an encyclopedia to choose a theme to work off of. There is a band, there are a couple of hosts, and there are a group of performers who each give a monologue. Tonight the topic was Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. The topic itself seemed pretty dull to me. However, the group of talented storytellers really made it work. It was beautiful. There are so many stories to tell, no matter what the subject.
This is the first time I've seen this awesome show, but they have been regularly performing for six years (or something like that). Next month will be the last one ever - Wednesday, May 28th. The subject will be  "The Prairie." 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It was a glowing evening. Niall captured it beautifully:

After a busy day with an even busier head it's nice to pause and be grateful.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Niall is moving forward with his photography business, Felix Photography. Here's his brand new website: Exciting!

There's something so beautiful about watching the talent and passion of someone you love grow over the years.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Walking through Millennium and Grant Park is always fun. 

At first I thought these statues were kind of creepy - like empty people stand-ins on an architect's rendering of a new venue in the making. Like avatars. 

But, then we stayed awhile.

Taking some moments to engage with them and observe other people live their lives around them completely changed my mind.

Now I'm a big fan.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Lady in No. 6 is a sweet, short documentary about an open-hearted woman who is 109 years old, a lovely pianist, and a Holocaust survivor. She says some really inspiring, words-to-live-by things in this movie including approximately:
"It depends on me whether life is good or not. Not life, me."
"Never hate. Hatred breeds hatred."
"When you love something- work,work,work on it!"
"Life is beautiful. Everything is beautiful."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I have always loved Anaïs Nin - reading her journals years ago inspired me greatly and helped shape my view of the world. 

Here is one of her quotes I'd like to live by today:

"The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters. meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision."

(Recent photograph of Niall's)

Monday, April 21, 2014

The garden opens tomorrow! Here are my initial plans-

Square foot gardening is super cool- you can fit so many different crops in!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

This caught my eye while Niall and I were out on a walk last night. I love it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cassius has not been a fan of his canned food lately, so he has been getting extra dry food. I really want him to eat his wet food (as it is better than dry for kitties), but he is on a hypoallergenic diet, so we can't try other kinds to encourage him. If he won't eat it, he won't eat it. However, today I figured out a trick. After he eats a little bit of it, add more water. Then, he'll eat a little more. Then, add more water. He kept eating it in little bits.  I cannot tell you how happy I was to see his plate licked clean.

One of my favorite sounds is cats happily eating their dinners. One of my favorite sights is Cass licking his lips.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hands in dirt, sunshine on your head, the smell of fresh herbs in the air, pausing with the bee vibrating on a marigold. 
As I may have mentioned here before, this will be Niall and my's second year gardening with the Peterson Garden Project. Over the last several years, my interest in food gardening has gotten pretty big, but it wasn't always that way.

When I was growing up, my mom loved to garden. She was always encouraging me to go out there with her, but I found it rather dull. I wanted to be inside, with my books, art projects, music, and telephone. I wasn't against the outdoors, I grew up camping and loved to hike and such, but understanding plants sure wasn't my game back then. This seems so crazy to me now, thinking of her sunflowers, twice the size of my face!

As I moved into young adulthood, I found I loved to be outside - the beach, the botanic gardens, etc. - and I always enjoyed cooking and buying fresh, local produce, but actually getting my hands dirty wasn't on my agenda.

In 2003, Niall and I moved to Chicago. In those early years here, exploring the outdoors was something I did casually, here and there.

I don't know when it happened. I think it was all my visits to farmers' markets (one of my absolute favorite things ever) and slowly growing knowledge of urban farming that did it.

When I did my year of service with City Year, my team took our group of Chicago 3rd-5th graders to Angelic Organics, this amazing farm outside of town. It was so very cool to be in an open field with many kids who had never been in such a place. I remember we got to see all their veggies growing, meet some animals, learn about worms and compost, and milk goats.

I think busy, city-life had a big part in this growing interest too. I have found myself increasingly compelled to be outside. It has become crucial to me to be involved with nature - I have found it helps make me feel whole and connected.

 I started badly wanting a garden a few years ago, but last year was when I finally got a chance. In early spring or so, I started doing some volunteering with Growing Power's Iron Street Farm. Hard work, so fun! This place is amazing - something like seven acres in Bronzeville, with hoop houses, goats, bees, worm compost, aquaponics...

Last summer was when I got a little garden of my own. Peterson Garden Project has community gardens all over the north side of Chicago. Niall and I got our plot last year and I was over-the-moon excited! Niall is my helper, but it's definitely my project. I really appreciate having his photography and precision skills around. 
The garden last year was just as fun as I dreamed it would be. I learned a lot and it made summer extra awesome. It was also great to be able to ask my mom a lot of questions (which I continue to do). Of course, she's thrilled about this new hobby of mine. 

Now, round two! Recently, Peterson Garden Project came out with a really cool, Chicago-specific organic food growing guide called Fearless Food Gardening. I can tell already that it's going to be a great big help.
Cassius is also excited about the adventures warmer weather brings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I've been thinking a lot about this saying lately. This is such an inspiring practice to help with walking through life.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It snowed today! Many of us thought we were over this already - dressed in light jackets and slip-on shoes, shivering going home from work tonight.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The tulips will be here soon, lining our walkway and all over the city.

People are already enjoying the beach a little bit. I love it when it gets warm in Chicago - we all emerge, relieved and eager.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I saw my first flower of the season today- right outside our door!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's warming up, so that means more Wednesdays spent outside. 
Niall and I went to Bridgeport today and visited Palmisano Park. This park has an interesting history - it was a quarry, then it turned into a landfill, and now it's a park.

You definitely get the sense that it's reclaimed space. It feels industrial and naturally beautiful at the same time.
There's a great big hill with an interesting view of the city.

We went to Chinatown afterwards and had amazing food at this restaurant I've been wanting to try for awhile on our friend Ollie's recommendation - Ken Kee. Chinese broccoli and salted turnip fried rice, tofu and watercress.
We had to get a strawberry and banana bubble tea for dessert at Joy Yee's

We have a saving money rule of eating out together once a month. This was well worth it.
Wednesdays are the best. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I spent a sweet day with Wayra. I'm grateful she's been a constant in my life for her whole life- almost 4 and a half years! 

She helped me grocery shop and then we made cardamom rose cupcakes for a birthday friend from work. Then some lunch, art, and nap.

We dropped the sweets off, visited some kitties, and headed home to have dinner with Wayra's mama.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A weekly task The Artist's Way recommends is an artist date. This means a date with yourself, doing something fun. I went to First Slice Pie Cafe and read and people-watched. I wandered around Andersonville, peering in shops and restaurants, admiring the big, beautiful houses. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I made the Cranberry Apple Bread from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores last night. I can't wait to share it with the wonderful Junior Volunteers at work this morning. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

I love the calm that washes over me on days I get to work from home. Chai with soy and honey, Cassius half asleep on my lap (yay!), the ability to just focus on one long task on the computer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cass has two little quilts that he likes, both from his human grandmothers. The one with hearts on it (above) was given to him by Niall's mama and papa. It's soft and I believe there's a hint of catnip in it.

This green quilt was made my my mom's mom when my mom was a little girl. It reads in red thread on the back, "Lisa 1967." My mama's name used to be Lisa, now it's Sune. She pulled it out and sent it to her grandcat recently, knowing he would love it.

Cass loves these quilts fresh out of the dryer. They are perfect stacked on top of each other.

The two baby quilts live underneath Niall's dresser most of the time. During cold mornings, Cassius likes to spend time there. We call this spot his "Poet's Corner."