Capitalism at work

breatheI’m frequently disappointed by the greed that American-style capitalism breeds. A woman in Waukegan – a far-north suburb of Chicago – wants to make money off the recent choking death of Eric Garner by a New York cop. She’s filed a trademark claim with the USPTO for exclusive use of the phrase on clothing.

Does she realize how embarrassing this is, not just for her but for all of us? Commercialism is the antithesis of all these equality movements happening in the US right now. To behave like this is…shameful. And sad.

Nik Wallenda walks the…rope

Since I live in the building he started both his walks from, there was a reserved area for residents to watch from AMA Plaza right across the street. I stood out in the cold for two hours, woefully under dressed and in desperate need of a toilet – for a walk that took barely 5 minutes. My video clip – taken with my iPhone 6 – sucks, but at least it proves I was there.

I think it was a stupid stunt, not to mention selfish (if he had fallen, thousands of people, including young children, would have had permanent memories of watching him die). But it was still exciting to see, and it put Chicago – and my building – in a good light.

Look at this beauty


I planted one bell pepper plant this year, and it produced a single fruit. With the mild, dark summer we had, it took almost three months for it to ripen. It was worth the wait, though. I sliced it up and ate it raw on a bed of baby spinach with some mushrooms and fresh peaches I picked up from the farmers market this morning, plus the last of the tomatoes from my own plants, all tossed with a lite vinaigrette of mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

The tastiest dinner I’ve had in a while. It’s very satisfying eating food you’ve grown yourself.

And that’s pretty much the end of my edible garden this year. The parsley and thyme plants are still thriving, but I’ve now uprooted the tomato and bell pepper plants for the winter. The ornamentals won’t be far behind – autumn has been relatively mild so far this year, but we’re fast approaching winter.

Depending on what the weather looks like in the spring, I may forgo the edibles next year and stick to flowers and herbs. My balcony gets a maximum of six hours of sunlight a day, and that’s on a clear day – we don’t get many of those in Chicago. I’ve been frustrated all season by clear mornings – when the sun’s on the other side of the building – and cloudy afternoons, when it should be hitting my balcony.

If I could just figure out how to cover the concrete floor of my balcony with grass, I’d be okay with buying all my food from the farmers market.

We didn’t start the fire

nofireChicago had it’s first “fire festival” last night, commemorating the Chicago Fire of 1871. I don’t really get it, but I’m all for anything that can be used as an excuse to have a party – especially when there’s a big fire involved.

Only, there wasn’t. The “house” above was one of three on barges in the middle of the river that were supposed to be reduced to ashes during the ceremony. I took that picture this morning. The other two look pretty much the same.

I was watching with my neighbors up on the roof of my building. It was supposed to start at 8 p.m. After an hour of waiting, we all gave up. Yesterday’s high was only 46 degrees and we had snow flurries the night before. Some idiot in city government decided October was a good time to drag people outside and make them stand around in the cold for hours to see…something that never happened.

What went wrong? My guess is three days of rain. The barges have been sitting on the river since Tuesday (I watched them pass my building from my balcony). Apparently, when it started raining on Wednesday (enough that the riverwalk construction flooded yet again), no one thought to cover the barges with tarps to prevent the wood from becoming saturated with water. I know 8-year-olds who could tell you that wet wood doesn’t burn.

You’d think, with Chicago’s previous fire experience, we could a pile of wood to burn. If nothing else, douse the damn thing with gasoline – this is arson, after all. They want to make this an annual “cultural event.” I don’t see that happening after this year’s fiasco. I certainly won’t be standing on the roof in bitter winds on a near-record-breaking-cold night to give them a second chance.



bell pepperThe one bell pepper my plant has produced this year is finally turning red. It’s taken 2 months to reach this point. When it finishes ripening, I’m eating the damned thing raw!

Hope I don’t have to pick it before it ripens. Supposed to drop into the 30s tonight with a “slight chance of snow.”

Yet another delay

floodedriverIt’s sunny skies today, but after two days of rain (and five inches overnight), the river has flooded for at least the fourth time this season. Which means construction of the new riverwalk will have to wait until the water recedes below the retaining walls and the crew pumps out the polluted water. This project was originally supposed to be completed by next spring, but there have been so many delays that I’d be surprised if it’s ready by next fall.

I should be happy they’re not drilling anymore, and they keep the sound levels down, but it seems like the $100 million dollars the city decided to spend on this project (despite not having $100 million and having to get a loan guarantee from the federal government) is not going to be enough to get the job done. That was predictable.