These are from a previous post in which photos of already questionable quality were resized. Some of the originals are lost, but I hope I can find at least a few. Hodge was a character who thought he was a lion to my antelope.
“I haven’t been fed in six hours. If I had opposable thumbs, the ASPCA would be here right now.”
I picked up Hodge via walking and bus, although two weeks in a cage on rich food at the veterinarian’s clearly put him well over my post-surgery lifting weight limit of 10 pounds.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been too busy, too tired, or too lazy to keep up. It’s true that time is relative, and the less you have remaining the faster it passes. To me, time seems to be approaching the speed of light — or, more precisely, free time.
I spent several hours writing a review of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson, then realized that I didn’t like my approach or what I had written. This weekend I went back to the drawing (or writing) board and started a new version.
I’ve read about two-thirds of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and about half of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. Both make me wish I had more time for reading. It’s turning into a stolen pleasure.
The past weekend J. and I attended the annual Puppet Bike party. Friday’s crowd, drawn by one of the bands, was a bit rowdy, but Saturday attracted more typical puppet people. Unfortunately, we had to leave at 11 o’clock because the life of a developer revolves around deployments, which invariably are timed inconveniently. If you want to enjoy life: (1) don’t become a developer or (2) rise through the ranks like wildfire so you can schedule deployments at odd hours for other people while you take your ease elsewhere. It’s unfortunate because neither of us has seen much of the puppets since they took their show to Andersonville. I did note on the map at the Peter Jones Gallery that the puppets would be welcomed in Hyde Park, at least by me.
Worn out and broke, this weekend we ate at Bonjour and watched competing entertainment — The Weakest Link on TV and Hodge in person trying to outsmart the Panic Mouse. The poor economy has returned many of us to a life of simple pleasures — which is what mine has mostly been anyway.
Not long after I had returned from my Sunday morning trip to Bonjour, I noticed emergency accumulating at the Shoreland, followed by an evacuation of the resident students. At about the same time, a thick fog rolled in, so I could see little but a few of the brighter lights flashing. The Chicago Breaking News site was worthless, and, as I told S., the whole thing made me unaccountably nervous and tense. No one was hurt, however, and I was able to get q quick nap in only after I learned 50 minutes later, just as the vehicles started to leave and, coincidentally, the fog to break up, that there had been raised levels of carbon monoxide in the basement. I didn’t make it back to Bonjour, and I didn’t finish the Benjamin Franklin review. Increasingly, I let my nerves get the better of me — a trait I may have picked up from my mother. And there is much to be nervous about these days.
For months I’ve been saying to myself that I need to back up my e-mail to my older computer, a 2001 Titanium PowerBook G4. On Sunday night I finally got around to it. I plugged the TiBook in and turned it on — and nothing happened. I played with a different power cord and with having the battery in and out — same results.
The next evening at the Apple Store my Genius had no better luck and apologized for being full of bad news: (1) she couldn’t find a spare battery to test, (2) she couldn’t diagnose the problem, and (3) even if she could, they no longer carry the parts with which to fix a hardware problem on such an old computer (at my age, my body is in a similar predicament — beyond repair). She offered to wipe the hard drive or, alternatively, I could take it out (“It’s really easy”), put it in a case, and connect it to a computer via USB cable as a second or backup hard drive. I could also follow the excellent recommendations from my fellow McEditors and have it looked at by a repair place that carries older parts. I may go that route, if I ever get the energy.
The news on Monday was not all bad, depending on my perspective. At noon I took my paperwork to H&R Block (“I got people”) and, after an hour or so, learned that I have more than $2,000 in refunds coming. While it’s good to have a chunk of change returned to me, on the flip side the reason for it is the loss on my investments. I’d rather have all that money back, if out of reach, and owe a bit. If wishes were horses, however, we’d all have a ride.
Hodge looks as tired as we felt after two nights of partying with the puppets. A great time! More later.
I resisted the temptation to roll the luggage cart with Hodge on it out the fire door and down the fire escape.
For one, I’d probably have had to pay for the cart.
And there would be questions.
There’s something about spending a single night away from home that makes me feel more disoriented than returning after a week-long trip. J. and I went to the last Hyatt party Friday night, and it was Monday before my sense of strangeness started to dissipate.
On Friday at about 6 p.m., I met J. at Moonstruck, one of my favorite places downtown. We started the evening with watching the dancing, which become less coordinated and more creative as the night wore on. As I stood on the second level, I couldn’t help thinking of ballroom dancing in 1930s movies and how much has changed in what is a relatively short period of time. For a moment, I could imagine the sweep of tuxedos and gowns.
When most attendees were at their happiest and most uninhibited, Exhibit A shows me nursing a midnight coffee — proof that I am old or dull or both. For the first time at this event, I could not be persuaded to dance, although I am not sure what held me back.
On Saturday, after substituting breakfast for a swim in the pool that no longer existed, J. and I headed to the Rosemont elevated stop, where we saw a flock of perhaps 80 Canada geese divided into four parts nibbling on the small islands of grass along the Kennedy Expressway. It struck me as an odd sight, a glimpse of nature adapting to the unnatural and unpleasant speed and noise of the expressway.
The weather was perfect for spending an hour and a half at the outdoor Christkindlmarket — a little below freezing, not too cold, no wind, and with a steady flurry of snow coating everything. While J. shopped, I found myself fascinated by the snow-covered model train as it made its monotonous rounds. A few boys watched the train for a bit, then commented in a deprecatory tone of voice to prove that they were too old for such toys. I envision them in 20–25 years, telling their children about the model train at the Christkindlmarket, even if it is by then more of a feeling than a memory.
Near the train tracks we came upon a snow-covered bench occupied by tiny snow people, made of regular-sized snowballs with evergreen twigs for arms. I named them Peter and Héloise, as doomed lovers. They were such a charming couple that almost everyone who spotted them did a double take, then snapped a photo of them. One woman even looked at us strangely as though we were the responsible parties. I wish I were that imaginative! It was with great reluctance that I left Peter and Héloise behind.
When all I could feel of my hands was pain, I dragged J. away on the bus and home with me, where a well-fed Hodge greeted us. I lit candles, plied J. with Holiday Dream tea and a Homemade pizza and cookie, and put on the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen so J. could sleep through it. Fortunately, the pizza and cookie revived him in time for a second showing.
In the meantime, the weather had become truly frightful. At 8 p.m., when we went downstairs to wait for the cab that never arrived, the wind was whipping The Flamingo’s awning furiously, and snow was coming down heavily and even less realistically than in a Hollywood movie. Since J. had to wait another two hours for the next train, I plied him with fair trade hot cocoa while we watched a Judy Garland, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra TV concert. I told J. that times have changed; today, Judy Garland couldn’t get away with a bare stage, a simple dress, and pumps. She would have to have a full band onstage, scantily clad chorus girls and dancers, a light show, and fireworks. During this performance, though, the stage, lights, and outfit didn’t matter. All attention was on that tragic face and that remarkable voice. You don’t need to distract your audience when you have talent.
J. finally arrived at the train station, after a 20-mph taxi ride in blizzard-like conditions. I couldn’t see Lake Shore Drive from my bedroom window. When I called him at 2 a.m. to see if he’d gotten home in one piece, the weather was still howling and blowing. Yet by 8 a.m. Sunday, it was sunny, clear, and calm, with the new coating of snow the only evidence of the previous long winter’s night.