Wednesday, March 30, 2011

UPDATED - Grutz says, "As long as we head north and west, we'll get there." or "I'm middle aged, aren't I? You'd tell me, right?"

Forget the expressways, we're taking back roads!
En route to our bed and breakfast in Wisconsin we ran into some traffic.  And by some, of course I am referring the the ever so spectacular Friday-get-the-hell-out-of-Chicago traffic.  Our exit on I-90 was waaaaaaaaay backed up, so I decide/delcared, "Forget this".  We were relatively close to the Wisconsin boarder, it's literally a question of direction.  My wonderful, amazing, patient, and gorgeous wife put her fears aside to my bold decision.  We don't need no stinkin' gps system!  We had a map.  And Carleen, by all appearances, was cool with it.  In my mind it was simple, north and west.  No problem, right?  Exactly.  Made it there, no worries.

It actually reminded me of driving from Chicago to Dubuque way back in high school.  A bunch of friends would load in to a car and leave directly from Wahlert to head to Chicago to catch a band on a Friday night.  Now on the way back we'd be all jazzed (and for the record, anyone who knows who I ran with in high school knows we were jazzed in the most honest sense, would all our folks let go to Chicago if we weren't upstanding citizens? That's right.) or sleeping so we'd miss the highway 20 exit in Rockford.  All of a sudden we'd be passing into Wisconsin.  What to do?!?!  Take a left, head west, eventually you'd run into the Mississippi River and Iowa.  No getting upset or worried.  Cardinal directions will get you home.  Kind of like our journey to Stoughton, Wis.
The Stoughton Courthouse.  Full of small-town Wisconsin charm.  (Not pictured, the nice art galleries, fine dining, and total dive-bars.  It's Wisconsin and what's a small-town Wisconsin without a half-dozen or so dive-bars?!?)

Ok, back on the task at hand.  As I mentioned in the previous post, my lovely wife inquired after a B&B.  Well, I found one, in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  We've never been there before, but, from my observations, it's in that Scandinavian/Swiss corridor that include Mt. Horeb, Monroe, and New Glarus, friendly, interesting,  and fun.  We had reservations at the Naeset-Roe Inn.  Carl and his charming dogs we're exceptional hosts.  He had long list of places of interest, shops, and fine cuisine around town.  We settled for the Main Street Pour House (get it, "pour" house?!?!? They pour beer!  Get it?!?!) for some good eats, a brew, and some local kareoke.  Including a singer giving a shout out to unions! Which received a hearty and positive respond from the bar-goers.  It was great, but we were tired so we I turned down any opportunity to belt out The Bay City Rollers', "Saturday Night".
Oh.My.God. It's a single rainbow over the Main Street Pour House.  Good food, great beer selections, and refreshingly entertaining local kareoke.  Really!
Naeset-Roe Inn.  Highly recommended on the Healy-Grutz scale.  We give it a  3 1/2 cranberry-orange scones out of 4. (C'mon, it's a B&B, scones is a staple, har har har!)
We made it back to the Naeset-Roe Inn and crashed, only after Carleen enjoyed the whirlpool bath.  We woke early, made it down to breakfast, met the other boarders, and consumed more delicious calories than you can shake a stick at, even vigorously.  The two other couples were in town for a concert, Tim O'Brien and Bryan Sutton.  I've heard of these two pickers/blue-grass/americana fellas before so it was a great conversation.  Carleen and I have stayed in numerous B&Bs over our short (though magical) time together, and we both enjoy the innkeepers and the guest so.  I would recommend a B&B any day over a regular hotel.  Sure, you're paying a bit more, but you can't put a price tag on the experience.

Birthday and Baraboo!
After the coma-inducing breakfast, Carleen and I hopped in the Forester and head to our next destination.  And where was that?  Well, nowhere in particular, eventually Baraboo, of course, but it was early and it was time to explore.  We visited Oregon (Wisconsin!) and then headed toward Madison.  We ventured into the city center, abandoning the safety and security of the beltway.  We circle the capitol building couple of times, giving our support to the protesters.  If you don't know what I'm referring to you ought to have something terrible happen to you.  I still can't believe that crap went down Wisconsin, of all places, in Madison?!?!?  Welcome to Mad-City.  Progressive HQ of the state.  It was great.  There were even cops protesting in support of the unions.  Like working an 8 hour day?  Thank the unions.  I'll stop now.

We then made it out of Madison, stopping in Black Earth, enjoying Sauk City, and eventually ending up in Baraboo.  We strolled through the quaint main street square (where people were taking signatures for recall of the governor/state senators.  Wisconsin is taking this union sh!t seriously!), stopping at The Village Booksmith (which has a ridiculously pathetic website that I won't dare link here, but it's still a neat store), grabbing some joe at Coffee Bean Connection, and getting some great flowers for Jane at Amber Moon.

We drove through the countryside surrounding Baraboo and finally made it to Jim and Jane's.  If you're new to the blog, I'v known Jim and Jane for roughly 30 years. They were our landlords/friends way back on Lincoln in Dubuque and we've been friends since.  Add they've appeared in this blog in the past here, here, and here (this particular link include Jane's sister, Marcia and her husband Steve, who made it to Jane's party in Baraboo). We were in town to celebrate Jane's 60th birthday.  Food, drinks, and good times ensued.  Sure I can go into the details, and I'm sure I will, (in my memoirs!), but it was a grand gathering of friends and family.  We got to finally meet Mike and Jean, exceptional folks that I've heard so much about over the years, but hadn't met.  I will elaborate on this fantastic couple in the future as their story is an excellent one and it has a resounding Iowa connection(!). Enough of your!

OK.  I can only seem to upload one photos at this time.  I will include more asap.
Jane and her brother-in-law Steve from S. Dakota.  Baraboo! Catch the fever!  Steve was stoked to be back in Wisconsin, especially to grab some Leinie's and New Glarus brews
Not only is she smart and beautiful, Carleen is a mean candle-lighter.

Jane and Jim.  Awwwwwwwwwww.

As per the question of being middle-aged from as the festivities progressed through the night and into the wee morning, Carleen and I called it a night at 2 am while many others were still up and about, having a joyous time.  It was such a wonderful party and everyone had a grand time, including us.  But it begs the question, if 50+, 60+ year old are partying it up and we, Carleen and I in our early 30s, are crashing, are we middle aged?  Yes, young people annoy me at times.  I talk about the weather.  I am slowly finding it harder to tolerate ineptness in services.  I insulate things.  I'm still down with new music, as long as it's tolerated by NPR.  I complain about mundane and in-the-grand-scheme-of-things unimportant.

Good god, I'm middle aged.  And that's ok. But it doesn't mean I'm giving up the ghost.  I reckon I'll get a mo-hawk tomorrow, yeah, that's the youthful action I can take to secure my 'hipness' at 33.  I'll still rock out with the Firebird, fuzz pedal, and amp at 6 (ok, really at 1.25 and only before 8 pm. D'oh, see! I'm too damn considerate. I am middle-aged!).  Needless to say, the weekend was a blast.  I'm not terribly worried at my own mortality or lack of acting like I did when I was younger, but it was insightful the witness it happening firsthand.  And speaking of mellowing down, I watched a great Harry Nilsson documentary entitled, Who is Harry Nilsson (and why is everybody talking about him).  Check it out if you get a chance.  Ok, that paragraph was really random.

Get smart.  Not Shaka Smart (who's leading VCU into the Final Four, oh and he went to Kenyon (shout out to all my Kenyon peeps, take that Denison!)), just get smart.

Stanisław Leśniewski (March 30, 1886, Serpukhov – May 13, 1939, Warsaw) was a Polish Mathematician,philosopher, and logician.
Leśniewski went to a high school in Irkutsk. Later he attended lectures by Hans Cornelius at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and lectures by Waclaw Sierpinski at the Lviv University. Leśniewski belonged to the first generation of the Lwow-Warsaw School of Logic founded by Kazimierz Twardowski. Together with Alfred Tarski and Jan Lukasiewicz, he formed the troika which made the University of Warsaw, during the Interbellum, perhaps the most important research center in the world for formal logic.

Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945) is an English guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time.  Clapton ranked 4th in Rolling Stones magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and fourth in Gibson's Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grutz says, "Darn it! No, really, you need to darn it." or "No, no, no, tell me more, more about the surprise."

Post-birthday glow.....
Carleen and I are still giddy from the effects of Saturday's (late) surprise birthday party.  Aunt Peggy sent us some more pictures from that joyous evening.  Without further ado.....
Shocking Carleen at the Honky Tonk BBQ, from l-r, Tim, Laura, Paul, Carleen, MarySue, a wee bit of Kristina, and my nose.

The happy birthday girl, Carleen, with super-fantastic-awesome pistachio cake.

Carleen eating my beard, like any good wife should.  Right?

The only drawback to this uber-boss night is that I have set the bar high for Carleen's next birthday.  I'd best get on that, only 350 days to go..........

Hey, I'm going to sew your a$$......
(Seriously, I have a million of 'em.  I suggest sending me money to stop with the terrible jokes, a guys got to make a living.)  So of the many domestic duties (hehehe, duty, hehe, honestly, send cash and I'll stop) I do around the apartment, needlework is one of my fondest.  Really.  I'm fixing something, using tools, and it can draw blood.  Manly. Oh, and instead of a scissors, I use my pocketknife, like a man.  So today I darned (I can't even begin to tell you how many awful jokes/puns I can put here) a few socks and re-attached all the buttons in Carleen's new, VINTAGE spring coat.  Yo, check it....
I placed the button just so.  It was ever so important for the light to dance off the mother of pearl.  I mean, yeah, it's reinforced with coated-kevlar thread with a pneumatic-piston suspension back-up.  I had to put it on the lift and use an a torque wrench, too.  Oh and I dropped an engine block on my foot, too.  But I didn't go the hospital, cos, you know, I'm manly.
Get Away Weekend!!! (Only one left in March!)
This Saturday we will be paying our great friends, Jim and Jane, a visit in Baraboo, WI (oooo, forgot to include THAT in our interesting city name game a while back) for Jane's 60th birthday party!  Carleen and I always have such a great time with them.  And we most certainly will report back with all the crazy details.  Soon.  But as for Friday, we are planning a nice b&b get away for the night.  So I have be entrusted to find a place with/that has/is (according to Carleen's commands): "romantic", "a tub", "a hot tub", "cute", "romantic", "bed & breakfast-y", "cute", "pool",  "nice".  I'd like to add in, on the way to Baraboo from Chicago, also.

Such is my quest now.  To find a place to stay to satisfy my lovely ladies (boy, that bad grammar would have got me in a warm pile of doggy poo!) lady's requirements.  Hopefully, I'll find success, as Wisconsin has a good number of wonderful b&b's (it also has atleast one douchebag governor, too).  Whew, calm down Nick.

Brainiac transformation: Execute!

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Craft Movement. Morris wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. His best-known works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), A Dream of John Ball (1888) and the utopian News from Nowhere (1890).

Norman Fell (March 24, 1924 – December 14, 1998) was an American actor of film and television, most famous for his role as landlord Mr. Roper on the sitcom Three's Company and its spin-off, The Ropers.

Yeah, that's a pretty long stretch.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grutz says, "Don't pick your nose, or you'll get rhabdo." or "Ma! Call the boys! We're getting the band back together!"'s just an old wife's tale. (Or is it?)
Remember back in the day, when you did something stupid silly, you might get warned with a reference to getting carted off by gypsies?  Ah, those were the days.  Now it's rhabdomyolysis*.  Now some of you, okay, all of you might be asking yourself, "Rhabdomyolysis?".  Anyone following the Hawkeyes knows.  Don't cross your eyes, you might get rhabdo.  Break a mirror, 7 years rhabdomyolysis.  Or my new fav, step on a crack, give your mom rhabdo.

*Rhabdomyolysis is a terrible condition to endure, and in rare cases, can lead to death.  And I personally would NOT like to pee brown, end of story.  I am not making light of it.  I AM making light of the copious amount of coverage it and the Hawkeyes received when the story broke.

Out with the old, in with the new.  And a big thanks.
As Carleen posted earlier, we had a little surprise (late) birthday party Saturday evening.  Alas, after the birthday manifesto, I scrambled to make my lady super happy for her birthday (golly, the dinner, cake, a new bag and ME wasn't enough?!?).  The crew that loves Carleen the most came through in perfect fashion.  I thank all the wonderful people that braved that dire trek down to Pilsen on Saturday.  You are the ones that made that night so special for Carleen.  I only wish I had a photo of you all "hiding" at the back of the Honky Tonk BBQ.  My memory of  the sight was Matt, surrounded by a bunch of people hiding their faces in coats, just staring at me.  All of you that made make up the core of Carleen's most important people in the city and she was shaking with emotions.  And thanks for getting such great bbq carryout!  As the husband of a vegetarian, nary do I get to sample such divine meats.  Bacon candy?!?!  Game over.  And a big thanks to MarySue for making the infamous pistachio cake.  (You may remember MarySue and Matt from a previous post, long before our adventure out west.)  My hat goes off to you, my dear.
Party hard, or don'  Enjoying the Carleen (Late) Surprise Birthday Party Supreme '11!

MarySue with the boss cake.  I do not hate cake. 
Trekkers to the land of Lincoln from the land of Tall Corn(?).
Mother Theresa and Aunt Peggy made it in for the weekend and they, too, were instrumental in pulling off the party, thanks.  It was super fun venturing around Pilsen and Chinatown this past weekend.  And also transporting a ridiculous number of plants and other possessions hanging out in Mom's basement back in Iowa.  Selfishly, I asked for one of my guitars.  Sure, I have my tele, casino, lap-steel and dano (that's a 1963 Danelectric to non-musicians), but I was lacking a certain something................
Yes, THE gold Firebird.  It's got that sumthin-sumthin'.  A very unique kind of swagger.
Woo-hoo!  I got my baby (second only to Carleen, of course!).  Sure, I have better sounding guitars, smoother and easier to play guitars, and more expensive guitars, but there's just something about the firebird.  And when I plugged it in..........well, the selector needs some work, and so does the bridge volume, and the necks a wee bit off, BUT, when we got groovin', she was all that and a bag of chips an extra side of hummus.  Good times.

Brain times.  
March 23 birthdays.

Carl Gottfried Wilhelm Taubert (born Berlin, 23 March 1811 – died Berlin, 7 January 1891) was a German pianist, conductor, and composer.
Taubert studied under Ludwig Berger (piano) and Bernhard Klein (composition). In 1831 he became assistant conductor and accompanist for Berlin court concerts. Between 1845 and 1848 he was music director of the Berlin Royal Opera, and was also court conductor in Berlin from 1845 to 1869. From 1865, he taught music at the Royal Academy of the Arts: Theodor Kullak was one of his pupils.

 Roger Martin du Gard (23 March 1881 – 22 August 1958) was a French author and winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature.  Trained as a paleographer and archivist, Martin du Gard brought to his works a spirit of objectivity and a scrupulous regard for details. For his concern with documentation and with the relationship of social reality to individual development, he has been linked with the realist and naturalist traditions of the 19th century. His major work was Les Thibault, a roman fleuve about the Thibault family, originally published as a series of eight novels.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post birthday

Sunday night, tomorrow is ready, lesson plans and homework sheets are printed.  This weekend culminates in the best way: satiation.  I'm going to make this brief, as one more episode of The Wire waits for me, and tomorrow's 5:45am start will arrive sooner than desired.  I am full in so many ways.  Nick orchestrated a birthday surprise for me last night: after I recovered from being stunned, I was so so happy that I got to spend a few hours with some of my favorite people ever.  I was surprised at the Honky Tonk Barbeque under the guise of showing off this eclectic place to Nick's mom Theresa and Aunt Peggy, who were visiting for the weekend.  It was really crowded so our friends ordered take out and brought it back to our place.  This was kind of perfect because I'd been really wanting to to share our apartment with our friends.   Mary Sue brought homemade pistachio cake, and, if you read my birthday post from last week, you know how special that was.  It was delicious, just like Mom's.  Today I took the morning to recover from staying up late last night, and at noon got myself swiftly up to the Contact Jam, in which the combination of Links Hall energy and rolling and flying always rights me.   On the drive up I noticed that when the sky is grey, the lake is lovely light sea foam green, which is the exact color of a new scarf I got yesterday.  Theresa and I split a 2 for 1 deal at a shop in Chinatown and I now have a new scarf to put into the rotation.  There is something so comforting about wearing a soft, beautiful scarf, that can both hide me and act as an undercover security blanket.  I love it. And tonight we've had a bit of an apocalyptic looking lightening storm and audible rain that clears the air.  I love that too. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grutz says, "If only St. Patrick was from Iowa." or "Marsha Blackburn is ruining my St. Patrick's Day."

On this wonderful day of St. Patrick's, let up begin with a poem by the late John O'Donahue, entitled "Beannacht", gaelic for "blessing".  Here's a link to a slideshow of western Ireland from NPR's Being, in which John O'Donahue recites his poem.

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life. 

Well if that doesn't put a warm ember in your heart.....may this blessing find you all.

And now, something completely different.

If Saint Patrick was from Iowa, I would be set.  Nothing against the home of my ancestors, Ireland, but this is a much more than petty whim.  Alas, traveling and moving so much has left me less than prepared for St. Patrick's Day, specifically, green attire.  Now, if the Patron Saint of Ireland were the Patron Saint of Iowa, I would be dancing a jig in black and gold.  I have more Iowa Hawkeye gear than you can shake a shillelagh at, which is a good, good thing, just doesn't help on St. Patrick's Day.  I lamented to my Aunt Jill about my black and gold heavy wardrobe while visiting in Denver and she felt my pain (both she and my Uncle Dave went to the University of Iowa).  She graciously sent me a University of Colorado t-shirt for my birthday back in October.  Oh wait, the Buffalo's colors are.........wait for and gold!  Oh the irony was not lost on me Aunt Jill!!!  Needless to say, it's the most comfortable t-shirt I've ever had, thank you so.

Ok, there has to be a solution for my green/hawkeye/St. Patrick's Day wardrobe malfunction........

BAM! Problem solved.

Now that that's out of the way, now there's this: House to vote on cutting off funding for NPR.  Hearing Rep. Mrs. Blackburn (over the chirps of bald eagles, of course) on NPR this morning started my day off on the wrong foot.  I do not even know where to begin on this issue (Let alone the John O'Donahue piece above was from Being, an NPR show!).  Oh yeah, I think I start and end with one thing: facts and news.  NPR provides news and facts.  What does most private "news" media provide?  Commentary and opinion.  End of story.  Contact your representative in the House vote down this bill.  I'm off my soapbox (for now).  

Have a wonderful and safe St. Patrick's Day.

Now for some info that you'll probably erase with green beer later today.  Birthday!!!

Paul Green (17 March 1894 - 4 May 1981) was an American playwright best known for his depictions of life in North Carolina during the first decades of the twentieth century. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Dram for his 1927 play, In Abraham's Bosom.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grutz says, "Are you trying to live up to your less than impressive stereotype?" or "A walk with you? You bet!"

I ventured to Chicago Public School's Office of Human Capital (yeah, spooky sounding) to right some wrongs, not surprisingly anything Carleen did.  I'm sure that though I was informed all is well, it is not.  In copying our wedding license the seal came out as flat, without any imprint.  NO SH!T! IT'S A COPY OF A RAISED SEAL, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? So when Carleen was contacted that the form was missing the seal we had to "fix" the problem.  Of course it was not missing.  It doesn't show up on a copy machine.  I went to great lengths to ask the helpful and cheerful (honestly, I'm sure my saccharine greeting had something to do with it) to note on the copy that the seal, in fact was there, so as to not run into this problem again.  I'm not holding my breath.

In the mean time, Carleen and I went for a nice walk.  The weather has been non-depressive, yea!  We made our way to Chinatown.  It only took 15ish minutes, and neither of us realized how close we were to that particular cultural hotspot.
Looking out from the 18th St. bridge to a stop along the Chicago River.

Such a pretty lady.  Quick find Nick!

And here we go, entering Chinatown.  Mothers lockup your daughters!
Once we returned home we threw our dinner together, creamy New York deli style coleslaw and tiki tofu masala.  Yep, it was uber good.  I just wish there was an easier way to grate ginger, to get out the fibers.......

Everyone knows I married Carleen because she's a wonderful, exciting, stunning and lovely person.  But I have other motives, too.  Financial.  I now know the Healys are part of a giant financial empire, and here's the proof I found in Chicago today:
The Healys are the corner stone of the harp market.  International, baby!
Woohoo, my boat has finally come in.  Easy street here I come.  Oh, what's that dear? Your family has nothing to do with harps?  Damn.  Well, while I lick my wounds, here's your smack o' smart (irish accent no doubt) for the day......

Bernardo Bertolucci (born March 16, 1940) is an Italian film director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor, and The Dreamers.

Ernest Faydeau (16 March 1821 – 27 October 1873) was a French writer and the father of the notorious comic playwright George Faydeau.  He wrote Fanny in 1858.

Yep, my brain's spinning from all the increased IQ, too.  Roll with it.

Grutz says, "When push comes to shove." or "Wha...? What's a baby monitor doing in my desk?"

Apparently, a supervisor at UI Hospitals and Clinics has not been reading our blog and is therefore dumb, because s/he thought it was a good idea to use a baby monitor to eavesdrop on staff.  Here's a link to the story at the Press-Citizen.  Yikes, someone didn't use their gray matter.... If you subscribe to the bell curve theory, half the population is less than average (yours truly too).  What moron would use a baby monitor?  Just talk with them.  Or "pop in" on the suspected chatty cathys more frequently.  Here's an IQ break down.
                                    Toast (2) Using a monitor (78)       Me(95)                 Carleen(120)(she's 153 on the beauty chart)
On to other news....I believe the dust issue (yes, riveting!) is getting better with the filter.  It's hard to do an analysis scientifically, but the frequency of dusting has be lessened by about one day or so.  What does all this mean?  I am not developing OCD, I guess.  But that doesn't mean I'm not obsessing over some things......

Birds of Prey.  No, not The Doors song.  Real birds of prey.  I've been glued to this cam from the Raptor Resource Project in Iowa.  IT'S NESTING BALD EAGLES!  Seeing the male and female eagles prepping the nest, flying in an out, glimpsing the eggs, so neat!  When I tire of hearing of all the calamities besieging our world on NPR I pop on the eagle cam.  I've lately had this cam on while doing things around the house, just to hear all the birds and the sounds of spring, the audio, rather than the video.  But, when I hear an eagle fly in and squawk or chirp (and you definitely can distinguish bald eagle sounds from a finch or robin) I come racing over from the kitchen or work area to the computer to see what's up.  Some might find it boring, but I find me someone who wouldn't be excited to watch once the chicks are born?  Thanks Mom and Gretchen for passing along this site.

Biking.  Since I'm not working now (though that will end very, very soon.."Hello, SubFinder?") I'm not riding my bike 8+ miles each day.  And since I'm not riding 8+ miles each day I've discovered I, ahem, don't need to wear a belt (cough).  I'm 33 and can't use the excuse that I'm big boned (which I'm not) or just husky and I'll grow out of it, so I've got to get back in the saddle again (get it, saddle? A bike saddle! I'll be here all week...) So I went for a good ol' ride yesterday and here's a shot from the Kinzie bridge of the downtown of Chicago.
A view south, Sears Willis Tower in the distance.  One of the best views of the city IMO.
Cooking.  I've been ever vigilant to not let things go to waste and I've discovered some cookbooks that ideally suit this need by providing recipes that use the same ingredients.  For example, if I'm making seared asparagus with garlic chips and parmesan it will list the other recipes in the book that use asparagus.  I'm digging it.  Last night we had a simple dinner of grilled cheese (three types on marble rye) and homemade tomato soup.  Wonderful.  More wonderful was when I went to eat my soup I found not a spoon in it, but a ladle.  Thanks, Carleen.
"Maybe I'm getting chubby because I eat too much." or "I'm shocked to find a ladle in my soup, garçon!" 
Playing guitar.  I probably spend 2-3 hours a day playing/messing around.  I'll record some stuff and post it.  Sorry though, no teased hair or spandex.  I'm a glitter guy, anyway.
I'm more Bowie, Pop, Reed than......

....Posion.  Although CC has some cred.
Lastly, I've been spending quite a bit of time listening to some great music.  I'm not going to burden you with all the cool, new, hip, rad, killer stuff from SXSW, you can find all you want in the vast interweb, though NPR has a convenient stream, if that's your thing.  Here's what's on rotation now (with videos):

William Elliott Whitmore (Just can't get enough of this guy.  And he's an Iowan, +1) First clip from San Fran and the second is from a UK show, Jools Holland live.  Banjo+tattoos+soulful lyrics=oh yeah!

David Rawlings Machine.  I haven't listen to him in a while and he popped up on random.  Great stuff.  And yeah, that's Gillian Welch.  Boy, that feller can pick! It's a long song, great cover of a great Dylan song, but wow, what a way to end a show.

Well, I'd like to include more music and your smartness-enhancing birthdays for the day, but I've got to take care of some CPS insurance stuff.  Apparently, a stamped, notarized wedding license doesn't fly with HR.  It has to be certified, too?  Wha...... wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grutz says, "The Revolution will be televised!" or "It ain't propaganda, it's just my wife's manifesto."

For whatever reason, when ever I read "manifesto" I immediately jump to propaganda.  So in reading over Carleen's last post my mind was flooded with images of a beret-donned Carleen with one fist in the air and the other grasping a flag with a birthday cake crossed with a spatula a la hammer and sickle.  I know that wasn't her intention.  But her 31st birthday will always be associated with that image.

I came away from the post reminded that life can change on a dime.  Ideas, motives, and inspirations change like the seasons, as evident of the past year.  Seven months on and it still feels unreal at times.  Luckily, I'm blessed to have Carleen with me.  She's one hell of a trooper.  1. to put up with all our changes (homes, jobs, life in general). 2. to put up with me and my crazy passions (music, Iowa, sports, attempted carpentry, IPR, Hawkeyes, Iowa, hobbies).

Well, I have to keep this one short, I have tons and tons to do today, as I spent 4 hours yesterday at the Illinois Department of Employment Service.  Needless to say, I'll be back later to spill the beans to you later.

Last note: Get off your duff and listen to Iowa Public Radio.  Great shows during the day, fantastic music at night.  If I had a nickel each time someone asked me, "Oh, where did you hear (insert totally phenomenal band here)?" and I replied, "Ah, you know, IPR." I wouldn't need to go the Illinois Department of Employment Service.  One of the gems of IPR is Backtracks, hosted by Bob Dorr (Iowa Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame inductee, no doubt!).  If you want to learn about music, the histories, the labels, the genres, sit back and start taking note.  He also hosts and produces Blue Avenue, described as show that
 ........presents old school, new generation, historic, and contemporary blues and its derivations including soul, funk, rock 'n' roll, and gospel.
Backtracks can be caught each Saturday night 7-10 central.  I dare any music fan not to come away at least slightly brighter.  And Blue Avenue can be enjoyed Sundays 5-6:30 central.  It's a crime to miss this show. Heck, all day Sunday on KUNI is boss.

Sorry, I've let dumbness run rampant.  Now it's time to get smart.  Birthday for 3/15

Phillipe de Broca (born March 15, 1933, Paris, France—died November 25, 2004, Neuilly-sur-Seine), French film director best known for his eccentric, irreverent comedies, made with enthusiasm and technical skill.  Titles include, The Man from Rio, Up to His Ears, and King of Hearts.

Now you're not dumber.  You're smarter.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birthday Manifesto (with addendum)

Birthday Manifesto
Despite the tumult of the last few days/weeks/months there are some things that are moving towards clear.  These things I know to be true.
  1. I am in love with dancing.  In dance, there is a truth and beauty that doesn’t happen at any other time in my life.  It’s something akin to sitting in the middle of a mountain range and looking up at the stars and feeling a warm breeze, that is how I feel when I’m dancing.  Connected to my physicality, my beauty, my mind, and emotions.  Completely full.  Completely complete. 
  1. At this juncture, I don’t want to move to Alaska or New Orleans or North Carolina.  Last May, June, July, August I was fully invested in finding a teaching job anywhere.  I had the zeal of a new graduate, aching to test out my skills and I researched ad nauseam teaching opportunities in parts of the country and world that fit with my desire to be immersed in mind expanding nature and to be working in a needy community.  Today I get prospective emails from these places and I don’t get the adrenaline burn in my veins that I did a year ago.  Instead I think about the possible dance and teaching chances that I might have here, and look forward to engaging in that way. 
  1. Seven months ago, I willingly, of my own volition, left Chicago with the intention to be open to the possibility of not living here.  I chose to explore, to consider, to try out other options in my head and in my body.  A lot of these alternate choices still leave me with a quick step, but not enough to warrant another departure.  
  1. Chicago is not a place that I want to live when I am 70.  But Chicago is a place that I want to be now, as a new 31 year old, a bicyclist, a dancer, a teacher, a friend (and a wife :). 
  1. It’s no secret that Chicago wears on the spirit but the wearing is countered with love that emanates from people here in my life, which more than compensates and is like a tethered buoy that bobs with abandon but never floats away. 
It’s true, for me each year birthdays get a little less exciting than from when I was 6 going on 7.  Maybe it’s because I’m not with my family, and I’m secretly missing the pistachio cake, a delightful boxed yellow cake made with pistachio pudding and pistachio whipped cream frosting that Mom always made for me, or because the mystery of birthdays dissipates with time.  This morning, with my hot tea and before the sun came up, I opened the patchwork package that Mom and Dad sent and in it were an assortment of little things, clearly chosen by Mom with thoughtfulness but for no particular reason.  She sent me a thick bangle polka dot bracelet, a pink clothespin with a gel decoration on one side, a fancy glass topped egg, and a sunglasses clip for our car.  It’s like a still life painting, the combination is so random, but I know the care from which it comes is huge.  I’ll take a picture when I get home.  Of course the tear inducing item was a letter, with 31 dollars, inscribed with green ink, that carries on the tradition that Grammy started.  Every year Grammy sends us dollars in the amount of our birthday, this stopped a few years ago when she started to get a little forgetful, but that part doesn’t matter.  Grammy died in May, and this year, I somewhat inadvertently sent my sister Julia $21 and a birthday card written in green ink.  I don’t know if she felt Grammy’s birthday blessing with my card, but I sure did this morning when I got the card from Mom and Dad. 

Addendum:  Sometimes I don't mention how lucky and thrilled I am to have a partner in life and love.  Nick is holding my hand and heart through adventure, upset, and joy.  He is intrinsically rooted to my whole belief system.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grutz says, "Friday is funday!" or "I (heart) unions!" or "Golly, I'm really ticked off!"

Howdy all.  I hope all of us are keeping the folks in Japan and in the Pacific in mind.  Unbelievable footage here.  And I hope we're all paying close attention to the events in Wisconsin.  Things are getting off the rails and some crazy sh!t is going down.  Maybe, maybe the right will rally around their shining star of the past, President Ronald Reagan, and start supporting unions, like he once did, remember?

"They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.  They remind us that freedom in never more than one generation away from extinction.  You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed down to our children and it will disappear everywhere in the world."

Ahh, straight from the mouth of babes from the Man's mouth. (Cough,hypocrisy,cough)  Let's see, this is from 9/1/80, I was 2, almost 3, therefore, I was a child.  And now Wisconsin has shot down collective bargaining.  Roughly 30 years, a generation?  Hmmmmmm, spooky.

 As a very, very wealth teacher, let me tell you I like living high on the hog (HA!).  Sure, the states are hurting from the economic downturn over the last decade and sure, the states knew what agreements have been made with the unions over the years.  I guess they didn't plan too well.  That's ok, just take it out on us now (grinding teeth).  One thing I've learned over the years is that those that do wrong (read wealthy/connected) are rarely punished, hell, sometimes rewarded, while those that are penalized/hurt are usually the underrepresented or innocent.  How can anyone say the teachers and state employees did all this to state budgets?  Maybe no one has said that explicitly, but the action in Wisconsin are playing out as if it was the unions fault.  And the media is running with it.  Sorry, I'm upset by all this, and the Hawkeyes lost yesterday in the B1G basketball tourney.  I'm a little pissed off.  Bailout the bankers, fu¢k over the teachers.

Whew.  Calm down Nick, you're prematurely aging yourself.  Quick Nick, go to for some quick Hawkeye lovin' to bring you to a happy place.  (It's a wonderful Iowa Hawkeye blog.)

In other news, Carleen and I went to a very entertaining dance performance last night at Hamlin Park.  Our friends Laura and Ande and many others provided us with an excellent variety of differing pieces.  The night was to showcase dance/movement therapists to, well, dance.  We also got to spend some time with our friends Paul and Kristina (WINK!).

Tonight, we'll be having dinner with friends Jennifer and Adam at Gio's.  Those that have visited us and have been lucky enough to dine at Gio's knows how delicious and special this grocery/diner is. Then we're off to the Green Eye bar to meet with our friends, Matt and Lynn, back for the weekend from Boston.  So yes, Friday=Funday.  Get out there and have a good one, for Nick (and the unions).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grutz says, "What do you mean 'ventilation'?" or "Man, after staining this table, I feel goofy!"

We picked up an inexpensive, unfinished pine table and chair set.  Lord knows I'm rough on furniture, so being the Handy Andy I am, I've been applying coats of polyurethane, sanding in between of course.  Though the weather has been balmy at best, it's still too chilly to open the windows, thus, a lack of ventilation.  Just weeding out the slow and old brain cells. So I apologize in advance for any, um, shortcomings in my, uh, writing.

Dusting.  Taking a vested interest in my role as house-husband, I dust.  A lot.  A ridiculous amount in fact.  I attribute this to the rehab going in the apartment across the hall.  But they've been more or less finished for a week.  SO WHY ALL THE DUST?  So I donned my Inspector Lewis hat and started to investigate.  Could it be the coal power plant, only a few blocks away?  Maybe.  Could it be Carleen's capacity to throw flour all over the kitchen each day before she leaves for work?  Ah, what about he furnace?  Let's check the filter.  Filter?  What filter?  There was no filter.

Oh my.

I installed a new filter, which in itself was almost impossible due to the positioning of the furnace (on its side, behind a wall (is that up to code?)), and cleaned what ducts I could get to.  Now, as I mentioned above, it's pretty balmy here, also being the tighta$$ I am, the thermostat is set pretty low, and we're on the 3rd floor (yeah, heat rises, cha-ching(saving money sound)), the furnace hasn't kicked in.  I'm interested to see the results.  I've dusted everything yesterday, rounded up all the dust bunnies, (which, I might add, due to all the debris in the air, those bunnies turn into dust donkeys in a matter of days, literally), and scrubbed all the floors.  I wipe down the floors ever other day.  On my knees with a microfiber rag.  I've almost become obsessive about the floors.  (By the way, a big thank you to my wonderful mom, Theresa Grutz, for the fine gift of an assortment of microfiber cleaning rags.)  I'll keep everyone posted on this issues, I know you're all on pins and needles waiting....

Handyman, cleaning dynamo, and.....handsome chef?  Yep.  Check it out.
Bland, ordinary whole grain muffins?  NO WAY! Baked falafil.  Ingenious, I know.
Since Carleen is busting her hump for CPS, I've been making dinner, too.  The other night I made some creamy mushrooms and pasta.  And last night I threw down some delicious potato au gratin.  The key is cutting the taters an 1/8 of an inch think.  And heavy whipping cream.  Tonight's menu: herb-crusted tilapia, curried chickpeas, asparagus, and a wee salad (w/ homemade dressing no doubt).

Of course, I'm also looking for jobs, too.  If you haven't seen the audition for Wrigley, here it is.

Lastly, it's not all work and no play.....

Carleen gets her game on.
On Sunday we hit up Fireside Bowl (yes, that Fireside Bowl of historic music mythology) and threw down a few frames.  It was dirty, kinda smelly, and super fun, just like bowling ought to be.  Once warmed up, I tossed 3 strikes in a row.  Thank you.
Bowling and the happy couple.  Awwwwwwww.
Lastly, I couldn't find the original video for Camper Van Beethoven's "Take the Skinheads Bowling" for this blog on youtube, but I found one riiiiiiiiiiight here.  Check it out, it's a classic.  Off to prep some fish, yes!

And thanks for all the fun geographical names!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

hot and tasty and trying to live it up

So Nick is bugging me to write more: the other day he said, "you know, I've written two blogs in two days, it'd be nice if you'd do one too."  Well, I'll be.  The tables have turned.

Sunday, March 6, 2011.  I am scratching away at the desire to do more with my days.  I am in such a conundrum lately with how things stand in my life in terms of teaching, dancing, living, locating, being and for the past many days, I've been wanting to live my days more fully.  Including the tired parts, I want to be convincing and confident all the time and to spend the minutes more contentedly.  Today, we had our Sunday morning latté of On Being and The Splendid Table, and toyed with the idea of escaping to a water park in Rockford.  The 84 degree water and slides and jacuzzis was/is so enticing and I really wanted to be spontaneous and get away for a bit.  Tomorrow is Pulaski day here in Illinois, so no school for me.  Unfortunately,  Nick was the rational one, and instead we proceeded with having a regular Sunday.  Boohoo.

I went to the contact jam, as is my sometimes Sunday custom, and had one of the best dances ever.  I felt inspired and light, I got a ton of great rides and my bones were grounded and muscles strong.  I wish I had some dancing images to share, though pictures never do feelings justice.

I came home and hit all green lights on Michigan Ave and 18th street, luck was on my side.  Driving is not my favorite thing to do, and green lights keep the potential for stalling out down.  My stick skills are smoothing all the time, but I still do the gas/clutch transfer slowly, sometimes too slowly and that makes for impatient Chicagoan honking.

I came home and kissed Nick goodbye as he left to go watch Iowa wrestling.  That boy and his love for his state is never going to calm down.  I think he follows every single Iowa sport there is, even sometimes radio contestants.  Wait Wait Don't Tell Me today had a contestant from somewhere in Iowa, and he several times told me, "that guy's from Iowa, cool."  "Uh huh, yes dear, that's cool."

It was sunny this afternoon, and if we weren't going to be slipping and sliding at the water park in Rockford, I was going to try and enjoy a little of the sun and work on my Vitamin D.  I was surprised to discover that even when the sun's out, it's still really cold.  I omitted my hat in favor of a more glamorous sunglasses look, and froze my head off.  Everything was made ok though because I was walking briskly to Cafe Jumping Bean for a delicious coffee, and walking around outside is always better with a paper coffee cup in hand, filled with something hot and tasty.  I took my hot and tasty to Knee Deep, where I was thrilled to find an awesome vintage shop, chock full of things too look at and try on.  I can't really pull off all vintage, but it's nice to accessorize once in a while right?  Since a lot of my clothes are still in Iowa, I find myself wanting for something in terms of wardrobe, and I am definitely at that predictable stage in the year where everything I have seems boring and unflattering.  I also don't (didn't) have a transitional coat, a necessity in Chicago where Spring is elusive and Winter likes to say hello through April.  Surprise!  I found a really great vintage jacket that will take me through Winterspring and hopefully will ease the transition to summer when it finally comes.  My new jacket is a blue green paisley with big abalone buttons.  The sleeves are a little short, so I will be forced to wear fancy gloves, all the time. :)

I've been wanting to share two of our accomplishments from the past few weeks.  I made sandpaper letters (out of real sandpaper), and now Edgar can read!  And Nick made really beautiful candle sticks out of bannister spindles.   I love them all, but I think the blue/white one in the middle is my favorite.  Our apartment always has that romantic candle glow.

I added my feet for scale, these transport me directly to Montessori memories, and make me want to go down that path again. 



You too can have romantic candle glow all the time!  Nick takes orders :)

And now I wait.  Nick should be home soon, and we are going bowling! Not really a fair trade for a waterpark, but I'll take what I can get, and bowling is fun too.  I hope I get a strike.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Grutz says, "Can the owner of a red and grey 1998 Cutlas, license 983 IHD report to the security office, your lights are on." or "Holy Crap! I'm on Youtube, officially!"

My next office view.  Wait, I've never had an office.
Hey hey, here's a link, I'm the one with the beard.  It's a job application non-the-less.  And it would be stunning.  Anyway mock away enjoy.

Grutz says, "Ya call that a museum? Now this, this is a museum." (In an Australian accent) Pt II.

Now fully rested and back in Chicago, I'll continue my Dubuque adventure.  When we left off I was still enjoying the The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium..... PHOTOS! NOW! No wait, I got something to say.  If you haven't read the previous post about my trip to Dubuque, get there now. Now you can rock the pics.
I enter newest site on the campus, can you hear my pulse quicken?  Yeah, that's a fur trader.  I know, it's boss.

Artifacts.  Take a deep breathe, Don't stand up, you may pass out.

Watching a film about canals....sitting in a replica of a canal.  Get it?

No, you wouldn't see a ray in an American river, but in the Gulf you would,  baaa-zing!

This photo doesn't provide the full scope of this aquarium, it's huge.  And it doesn't include the audio of the kids screaming at the fish.  Or me mentioning to the mom that the fish can't hear the kids screaming, but I could.  Would you mind doing some parenting?  Yeah, thanks.  Guh, you have to take a test to drive a car, but to have kids.....
The William M. Black dredger.  I used to work on this vessel.  I'm waiting for warmer weather and my wife to visit the Black.

Models.  Who doesn't love models?  Psychopaths.  Psychopaths don't love models.  Are you a psychopath?  Didn't think so.  I'm looking at you Moammar, psycho. 
Panoramic model! Trippy.

Hands-on fun.  Fishes, mussels, horns, antlers, skins, slides....does the fun ever stop?  No, apparently not.

A painting depicting Julian Dubuque and the Meskwaki tribe.  Thank God his name wasn't Julian Snottypoopypants.

.............and Nuns!  NUNS?!?! The traveling component of the museum is "Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisiters in America", which, one might ask, is why is it in the Mississippi River Museum?  One, the upper Mississippi is home to many Catholic religious order (didn't know that) and it's sponsored by Clarke College University, of Dubuque.  I was a little skeptical on hearing about this exhibit, but I'm an open-minded fellow and I needed a break from all the adrenaline coursing through my veins from all the animals and exhibits I'd encountered so far.
One of the views of the Sisters exhibit.  Very insightful and interesting information and unique artifacts. 
Here's the write up from the Museum's website:

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and Clarke University are pleased to announce that “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America,” a traveling exhibition featuring the untold stories of the innovative, action-oriented women who played such a significant role in shaping the nation’s social and cultural landscape, will make its way to the museum from Feb. 18 - May 22, 2011

 Wow.  No cynicism here.  I was blown away by this exhibit.  I had a few nuns in elementary school at Holy Ghost (and it will always be Holy Ghost, hear me DBQ Diocese?!?) and for the most part they we nice old ladies.  But I did have Sister Mary Jean in 6th grade for social studies and she marched with MLK Jr!  Sister was an activist!  And later in life, while protesting the Iraq war, I met a couple of Sisters who protested the School of the Americas.  What am I getting at?  Sisters get sh!t done.  Taking care of the sick, educating those ignored by society, demanding rights for all.  I struck up a conversation with a group of nuns from the Twin Cities visiting the Museum.  The joy and reverence they spoke of, of all that had come before them and their own histories, that was just icing on the cake for me.  Here's a link to the traveling exhibit:  I'd suggest all to check it out, especially if you were raised Catholic, old school style. 
Nun 101.  A freshman intro class.  3 credit hours. MWF 10:00-10:50 Jesup Hall.

See the caption for this bell below! 
See the Dubuque-Cincinnati connection? Oh yeah.
Whew, I didn't go to all the out door exhibits, and the otters were visiting the vet, and the Ice Harbor was frozen (ha ha, yeah I get it) so no boat launches.  So yes, Carleen and I will be visiting during warmer days.  And a parting note from one of the patron saints of the Mississippi River.....
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain.
Thank You!! Everyone posting interesting names of places around the country.  Keep it up! If you haven't seen the comments, check them out on previous posts.  And keep up the fun names.  Kalamazoo, anyone?

Apologizes for not including any cultural knowledge in my last post, here's something to nibble on for your historical birthday for March 4.....

Antonio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 – July 28, 1741), was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, born in Venice.  Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe.  One his best known works is The Four Seasons.

Now, young grasshopper, take this knowledge into the world.  Happy Friday, Everyone!