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.

Hot pink at four o’clock


In addition to my purple morning glories and orange wildflowers, I now have pink four o’clocks. They bloom in the late afternoon, about the time the morning glories die. Then they stay open all night and die around the time the next batch of morning glories open. It’s a cycle that ensures there’s always color on my balcony these days.

I wish I hadn’t killed my moonflowers a couple of months ago by overwatering them. Definitely going bigger and earlier next year…

Picked my first tomato today

tomatoesIt’s been a long time coming, but my tomatoes are ripening. Two more will be ready this weekend.

I sliced that first tomato, sprinkled some kosher salt on it, and ate it standing at the kitchen counter – didn’t even bother with a fork.

My mother often had a garden when I was growing up, but I’ve never had a green thumb – I’ve managed to kill a cactus in under a week – so it was very satisfying eating food I produced myself. This could easily become a habit. I’m already making plans for next year – bigger, better, and earlier. I have a pretty big balcony to fill up with edibles and ornamentals alike.

And my bell peppers are barely an inch long, but they’re already looking like bell peppers. They’re so cute. They’re running late, too, but it’s been a gray summer in downtown Chicago, so I’m just going to have to be patient.