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Archive for April, 2009

I used to love cats. My family had a lot of cats when I was a kid. I think at one point we had fourteen.  cats

We had two mommy cats who would have a litter every summer. As the weather warmed up, the cats’s bellies swelled up. By the time sweat was popping out of our glands, kittens were popping out of the cats.

There were so many kittens, that when my cat Snickers’ had her first litter we named them after candy bars: Almond Joy, Butterfinger, Milk Way, and Kit Kat.

It seemed like a good idea, since the kittens our other cat Sadie, Snickers’ mother, had earlier that summer got some very mismatched names.

We told my dad he should name one, and he promptly dubbed the poor kitten Bark-mulch (we didn’t let him name any after that). I named my cat Eugene, for reasons that escape my memory today. My sister named her cat Bonnie.

After that we stuck to group names. One litter was shoes: Nike, Reebok, Aididas, and Nonbrand. Another was named after cars; my favorites were Ferrari and Porsche. One summer we had Eeny, Meeny, Miny, and Moe. Then we had the spices: Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Paprika. There were so many kittens that the other themes and names are lost to my memory.

They were like barn cats, and lived in the storage room under our deck where the firewood  was kept. There was a little hole my dad cut in the door so they could come and go as they pleased.

But having so many kittens presented a problem. As the poet Ogden Nash wrote:

The trouble with a kitten is that

When it grows up it’s always a cat.

So when the kittens started to become cats, we would give them to friends and neighbors. When they started to accumulate, we would get desperate and give them away to almost any stranger who wanted them.

cal-001I started thinking about all the cats we’d had years ago, because of my calender. Its word for me was ailurophile. Simple and practical: one who loves cats.

I loved cats. After having cats for six years of my childhood, my asthma became worse.

And then I became allergic.

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I found a wishing tree in the park yesterday.

My roommate and I stumbled upon this tree across the bridge from Millennium Park in Chicago, after a little picnic to appreciate the lovely weather. Tied to the branches of this beautiful flowering tree were these white tags fluttering in the wind. After reading a few of them, I realized they were all wishes.

A few wished for fame and riches, and several had the grammar and spelling that suggested a child had written them. One read, “I wish I was more decisive.” Some were in Spanish. On another man had written a wish that a particular woman would love him and “have my babies.”

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I took a few pictures I dug a pen out of my purse and handed it to my roommate and told her to make a wish, there was space on some of the cards. As I was taking some pictures, she finished writing her wish and handed me the pen.

Wait. I had to make a wish now?!?

Here’s the thing. I’m a bad wisher. I love throwing pennies in fountains, watching for shooting stars, and blowing out birthday candles. But once the penny is in my hand, the star is passing, or the cake is in front of me, I can’t think of a sinlge thing I want to wish for.park-031

I can normally make up my mind quite easily, I’m generally know what I want. Finally, I decided not to over-think this one. I wrote a wish, born out of my longing for the quiet and forests where I grew up in Massachusetts.

“I wish there were more trees in Chicago.”

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Don’t you hate getting into an elevator sometimes? People can make elevators can be one of the most frightening places. I don’t mean that I’m terrified it’s going to break and plummet to the ground; I trust the engineering behind it. I’m talking about the CRAZY people who inadvertently make sharing a small space for less than a minute incredibly unbearable. But the times you get out breathing a sign of relief are contrasted by the times you get out with a smile on your face. Now if everyone had a little manners in the elevator, we’d all be happier.park-047

  1. Don’t make out with anyone in the elevator. Really. You can save it for later. I don’t think there is a faster way to make everyone in the elevator thoroughly uncomfortable.
  2. Leave the loud music at home. If my eardrums hurt when you enter the elevator, I’m guessing you probably have ear damage already and will be deaf by 30. It’s for your own good.
  3. Try not to overcrowd. If the elevator is full, have the courtesy to wait for the next one. Especially if you are with a group of people, don’t try to fit in with everyone else. Worst case scenario and you are trapped in an elevator with barely enough space to stand.
  4. Have a little humor. If you hit the wrong button or step on a toe, crack a joke. Everyone appreciates being able to laugh a little at the situation.
  5. Unless your leg is broken or something, use the stairs if you are going up/down only one floor. Don’t be that lazy.
  6. Try to avoid strong scents: carrying something odorous, strong cologne or perfume. Even when you are not in an elevator if you are emitting an overpowering a scent. That’s bad under normal circumstances. Not in a small space.
  7. Uh, don’t block the door. Be courteous to the people behind you who need to get out.
  8. Wait until people exit before you rush into the elevator. Nobody wants to get run over.
  9. Make sure the people behind you have space, especially if you have a large backpack, you can unwittingly squeeze someone into the wall. I hate it when people seriously invade my personal space or block me into a corner. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
  10. Smile and say something. It’s the perfect time to give a complement or ask a question about whatever thing someone’s carrying. You’ll spend less than a minute with these people in your life, make it worth something. Everyone wins.
How to not make enemies in an elevator

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Chicago residents were not playing when they brought out their signs to protest Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Gathering in Federal Plaza on April 2, their signs asked for better schools, trains, housing, clinics- and no games.

The night before, just a few blocks from where the rally would be, I found an empty room in Roosevelt University littered with signs and the air filled with the smell of permanent markers as members of the group that organized the rally, No Games Chicago, sat on the floor making signs for the protest.

One of the sign-makers was Patrick O’Hara, a first generation American and native of Chicago. O’Hara said it is an issue of human rights because plans for the Olympics “tend to bus out the poor… It’s an elitist event that tends to stomp on the rights of the non-elite.”

While Patricia Yeray sat on the ground making a sign, she told me the plans for the Olympics would threaten the parks in Chicago, including in her own neighborhood. Yeray said the parks were a “resting place” for people in the city.

Yeray, a retired flight attendant, said the plans would reduce the small amount of green space, the number of birds and other creatures. She said the plans would “tear down old growth trees. You can’t replace those.”

Check it out for yourself, and make up your mind. Do you think Chicago win the bid, and why?

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cal-005You have to be thinking one of three things when you see the word my calendar had for me today: “I know what that is,” “Gee, I never knew that thing had a name,” or “What the HECK does that mean?” I was thinking that last thought when I saw the word “cardioid.” I didn’t know this thing existed, let alone had a name. Spell-check doesn’t even believe me!

When it requires a picture to explain the definition, I immediately get a little scared. It is either something I recognize, finally know what it is called, or I just have NO IDEA what it means even with the picture to “clarify.” When I’m looking for new words to enhance my conversations or writing, I look for something that, at the least, I can understand. Really. What good is it to know a word if it just doesn’t make any sense to you?

Being more confused than enlightened by this definition, I continue on a search for truth and understanding. Somehow, this sort of truth-quest always seems to lead me straight to Wikipedia. Faithful Wikipedia provides me with a much more understandable definition and an ANIMATED graph that shows exactly what the American Heritage Dictionary eloquently failed at explaining. Yes, animated! This cardioid thing makes much more sense to me now, even if I never have a use for it. When a picture isn’t enough, sometimes you just need a more animated approach apparently.

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This is my pretty little butterfly kite.

Everyone has a few things that always make them feel like a kid, that you never grow out of. And even if you might not enjoy it for yourself anymore, you always enjoy seeing someone else who gets excited about the things you used to love. This list is just some of my favorites. Let’s keep it going, leave a comment: what makes you feel like a little kid?

  1. Tickling. I’m sorry for you if you aren’t ticklish, although not too sorry because you can always tickle someone else.
  2. Eating popsicles on a hot summer day.
  3. Flying kites on a day with blue skies.
  4. Making paper snowflakes in the winter.
  5. Jumping in leaf piles in autumn.
  6. Rolling up your pants and wading in a lake.
  7. Blowing bubbles.
  8. Getting something that you’ve wanted for a long time.
  9. Christmas.
  10. Drinking hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.
  11. Just being in a toy store.
  12. Watching favorite old cartoons. (I will always love Tom and Jerry)
  13. Counting down the days until a holiday or big event.
  14. Sitting on the swings in the park or your backyard.
  15. Running barefoot in the grass.
  16. Dressing up in a silly costume.
  17. Finger painting.
  18. Spinning around in circles until you are too dizzy to walk in a straight line.
  19. Lying on the ground and trying to find shapes in fluffy clouds (after you spin around of course).
  20. Bedtime stories.
  21. Going to the zoo.
  22. Wishing on a shooting star.
  23. Making flower crowns.
  24. Running through sprinklers.
  25. Blowing out candles on your birthday.
  26. Playing with play dough.
  27. Jumping in puddles on a rainy day.
  28. Pressing flowers in between the pages of a book.
  29. Tag.
  30. Reading Dr. Seuss books.
  31. Old lullabies.
  32. Wearing pigtails.
  33. Riding on a carousel.
  34. Easter egg hunts.
  35. Hide-and-seek.
  36. Drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  37. Licking the spoon after mixing brownies.
  38. Making snowmen.
  39. Throwing snowballs at people.
  40. Sandcastles on the beach.
  41. Petting a dog.
  42. Squirt guns and water balloons.
  43. Singing just because.
  44. Catching toads and then letting them go.
  45. Climbing trees.
  46. Talking to inanimate objects.
  47. Naming inanimate objects.
  48. Yo-yos.
  49. Cotton candy.
  50. Coloring with crayons.
  51. Doing something embarrassingly clumsy.
  52. Old Disney movies.
  53. Giving someone you love a present.
  54. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
  55. Hugs.

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