Friday, April 29, 2011

Doctor Whooooooooo (Old School Edition)

The 3rd Doctor sonic screwdriver Mr. E gave me as an early birthday prezzie last night is indeed coolness. Olivia, however, was not impressed.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/29/11

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Last of the Easter Peeps

It floats harmlessly and helplessly in my hot chocolate for a minute or two, then falls over to one side as it melts away--just like the Easter season.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/27/11

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Before and After

In an effort to cheer me up after what has been a pretty abysmal month personally, Superbadfriend gave me an Easter basket full of goodies, including these 18 Easter eggs. Rather than hide them around La Casa del Terror for me and Olivia to find, though, I cracked their shells and transformed them into... ...devillled eggs!

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/25/11

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011, Part 12

From La cAsa del Terror--also the domain of the Evil Bunny--I wish you and yours a peaceful Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We Now Pause Our Regularly Scheduled Easter Celebration... also celebrate the season premiere of Doctor Who on BBC America!

"Doctor Whoooooooo...WhoooooOOOOOOooooooo...."

Easter 2011, Part 11

I've heard of screen doors and potato chips with the face of Jesus and underpasses with the image of the Virgin Mary, but what does one do with a stain on the sidewalk shaped like the Easter Bunny? Or will I go to Hell just for asking that question?

Easter 2011, Part 10

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Bunny Behind the Counter

From the outside, the storefront appears small, though certainly no smaller than any of the other storefronts that line either side of the stretch of Lincoln Avenue that constitutes the main drag of the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Once you pass theneath the sign of the second-hand toy store named for a long-forgotten breakfast cereal, however, You see how many wonderful can be packed into such a tight space.

Shelves display various cups, figurines, toys for all ages, busts and ornaments, alongside wall spaces covered with action figures dangling from pegs. Lunch boxes line the upper walls. Storage containers and glass-enclosed cabinets hold still more toys, as do the shelves behind the counter where Dave, the very friendly and knowledgeable proprietor, watches over the proceedings most days.

One day not very long ago, I was talking to Dave at the counter about something or other when the topic of how items wound up in the store came up, and he noted that sometimes he just finds things while out walking his dog. Case in point: A box of various used toys that I couldn't identify, topped with something I could just barely make out--what appeared to be a well-worn plush rabbit. Ordinarily, this would hold little interest for me, but the one detail I could make out clearly did draw my attention--the bunny had printed pads on its feet. "Let me see the bunny," I said to Dave, and he reached down and plucked the plush animal from atop the pile of otherwise unidentifiable ends and odds. I held the bunny gingerly--it was in rough shape. Its fur was patchy from years of hugging. Its head lolled to one side, and its ears lopped to the same side. It had split seams everywhere, most prominently down both sides of the front of its head, where the excelsior showed through.

In short, it looked like it had been well loved for many years and even repaired a time or two, but its owner had obviously decided that its time had come, and out into the alley it went with other relics of someone's childhood. "how much? I asked Dave. "Five Dollars," he replied. "Done," I said, reaching for my wallet.

The bunny sat for a few weeks on a shelf in my living room that is already filled with other treasures from the childhood of others: a Wiener Whistle and Captain Marvel horn that Mom played with as a kid; a Mary Hartline doll (from the '50s children's show "Super Circus"0 that I found on eBay; and various lunch boxes purchased at Quake either by me or for me by friends.

This past weekend, though, I finally went to my local fabric store and bought some thread that reasonably matched the old bunny's beige fur, such as it was, Now, my sewing skills aren't the greatest--in the past, I've patched ripped seams in jeans and reattached zippers, but little more complicated than that. I approached this job with trepidation--I wasn't sure how resilient the fur was after all these years, how much sewing it would take to shore up the bunny's weak spots, or how the whole thing would look when I was finished.

As it turned out, I should have been more confident in my abilities with needle and thread. I worked first on the back, which already had stitching in it (from one of its previous repair jobs) that I tightened and strengthened with fresh sutures. Then I went to town on the neck (front and back--old boy's head looked about ready to fall off) and the ears, which still didn't stand up any better, but at least they were no longer in danger of flying off of their own accord. Finally, I tackled the most obvious problem--the twin seam splits on the head. These took a while (and quite a bit of thread) to seal again, but once I was done the repair job was difficult to spot at a distance (though it was obvious--and obviously unprofessional--on closer inspection).

After I was done, I gave the bunny a gentle bath, submerging it in a bowl of lukewarm water and dishwashing liquid. It didn't clean the fur much--the white tufts on his chest still looks closer to gray--but, after it dried for two or three days, the fur was softer to the touch and, oddly enough, both ears were now standing up perfectly straight. So now the bunny still sits atop the row of lunch boxes on the shelf in my living room, but he looks a good better. Its fur is still worn, its tufts still closer to gray than white, and its nose still in sore need of a sizable dollop of glue. But now it's in a far better place than its was, sitting amongst other treasures of childhoods past instead of in a Dumpster or a landfill. It had been thrown away, but was now reclaimed.

And it is, once again, very much loved.

Easter 2011, Part 9

This festive holiday tableau courtesy of the ever-awesome Superbadfriend!

Easter 2011, Part 8

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Bloom

Despite yesterday's snow--seriously, Mother Nature, WTF?--spring is making itself known in Chicago. Trees are noticeably greening all around, flowers are evident in all directions, the air is sweetening. All undeniable signs. I'll take my smiles where I can get 'em.

Easter 2011, Part 5

"O Easter tree, o Easter tree, how eggy are thy branches..."

Monday, April 18, 2011

RIP Kitty-Kitty

Less than a month ago, I posted this cute picture of three of Mom's kitties curled up together. Now one of them, Kitty-Kitty (the gray-and-white one up front) has passed away at the age of 20--pretty damn good for an adopted stray. She was in good health for nearly all of her life, and gave much love and comfort over that time. For much of the last couple of years, she insisted on sitting in my lap every time I visited Mom, sometimes not even waiting until I'd sat down to make a leap at my lap.

She was also the last cat remaining from when Dad was alive.

RIP Gretchen

That's her on the left with JB at Millennium Park a few years ago.

You always think there will be enough time to get together again. To snort at each other's jokes again. To watch you pick Italian beef off a pizza because you think it's really mushrooms again. To cry or drink Manhattans or light up or bowl a strike or two again.

But that's not always the way. Sometimes, there isn't another "or" to be had.

Sometimes, you don't get a chance to say "goodbye" to someone who was always there for you. And sometimes, you have to write words that you absolutely hate, even when no words are adequate.

Miss you, Gretchen.

On the Way in to Work This Morning...

Not funny, Mother Nature. Not funny at all.

Easter 2011, Part 4

Looks like he was caught in the act, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter 2011, Part 2

Mmm...chocolatey lamb!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter 2011, Part 1

The first in a series of seasonal images leading up to Easter Sunday. Enjoy (more than this poor guy is, anyway--looks like the Easter Bunny must after delivering all those eggs or candy or whatever the hell it is the Easter Bunny actually does).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What to Do with a Stale Peep

This teal-hued Peep, who'd been sitting out since yesterday morn, sweetens my decaffeinated tea as he melts.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/13/11

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It Must Be Spring...

The Peeps are out!

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/12/11

The first flower of spring forces its way through the still-cold ground to catch the rare rays of April sun.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Here Come the Hawks, the (Not as Mighty as They Were Last Year) Blaaaackhawks!

Last year around this time, Chicago was vastly excited about, of all things, hockey--a sport we'd just about written off in this town, due to the downright negligent owner of our NHL franchise, Bill Wirtz. After Wirtz passed away, though, his son, Rocky, pumped much new, vital blood into the franchise, and not only did the Hawks make the playoffs last year, they wound up going all the way and taking the Stanley Cup.

This year? Is not last year.

The Hawks have struggled all year long. Team chemistry hasn't been the same since many of last year's players had to be traded to get under this year's salary cap, and there have been plenty of injuries along the way.

Still, if they win tonight, they clinch a playoff spot. So...go Hawks!

Olivia Sez...

It's been another rough week. Now get me a goddamn Bloody Mary with extra Worcestershire sauce and a sprig of 'nip, pronto.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/8/11

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today at Lunch

While out gathering moneys from the bank (it being payday and all) and a hot turkey sandwich from Jaffa, I walked through fog that seemed to be thickening rather than dissipating as predicted. Throw in a chilly, surprisingly stiff breeze off the lake, and this is not a day on which I'd want to try to hit a 90mph fastball. (Like I could hit one if it were clear and 75.)

Opening Day, Part 2

Th White Sox play their home opener this afternoon against the Tampa Bay (Formerly Devil) Rays at U.S. Cellular (Formerly Comiskey Park) Field. They'll get roughly the same weather that the Cubs had last week--damp and chilly, with temps in the 40s and a breeze off Lake Michigan (which, in springtime, is anything but refreshing). The weekend promises better, though, with the mercury possibly rising into the 70s. Such is the way in Chicago in April--30-degree swings from one day to the next are hardly unusual.

Let's just hope the Sox fare a bit better than the Cubs did. They lost their opening day (and two out of three in the opening series) to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven't had a winning season since 1992.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/7/11

Monday, April 4, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/4/11

In spite of the gloomy horizon and the roller coaster weather (70 yesterday, 50 today), the trees are indeed budding. Spring will arrive in Chicago before you even think to look for it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/1/11

Happy Opening Day, everybody!

Happy Birthday... my lil' April fool, Olivia! (As previously established, I don't know that today is Olivia's birthday--I only know that she was born in the spring of 2004, which would make her about seven years old now. And isn't today as good a day to celebrate? Yes, it is.