Friday, August 31, 2007

appreciating what isn't there

In art and life, sometimes we most appreciate what isn't there.

Monday, August 27, 2007

more mosquito spraying tonight and tomorrow

The Chicago Dept. of Health sent an e-mail notice that they will be doing mosquito spraying again on Monday 8/27 and Tuesday 8/28 from dawn to dusk.

TONIGHT (7:00 p.m. Mon. 8/27 to dawn Tues. 8/28):
Far South/Southeast/Southwest** most of the city that is located south of 83rd Street

** area roughly bounded by the city limits on the north, North Ave. (1600N) on the south, Kostner (4400W) on the east, and the city limits on the west.

TOMORROW NIGHT (7:00 p.m. Tues. 8/28 to dawn Wed. 8/29):


** area bounded by Diversey (2800N) on the north, Cullerton (2000S) on the south, Halsted (800W) on the east, and Central Park (3600W) on the west.

** much of the city that is located south of Cermak (2200S), north of 83rd Street, and west of Wentworth (200W)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

for your garden: upcoming bulb sales

Bulbs are popular in the garden catalogs right now. There are some big local sales as well.

The Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe) will be hosting the Bulb Bazaar at from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 30. More than 200 varieties will be available, including many suitable for indoor forcing. Volunteers and experts will offer advice. See the catalog online at or call 847-835-5440 for more information.

Also check out the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee’s Fall Mum and Bulb Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Hyde Park Shopping Center, 55th St. and Lake Park Ave. 773-241-6943 or (click on "Committees" and then "Garden fair").

Friday, August 24, 2007

construction update - 99th St. Metra station

Starting Monday 8/27 at 9 a.m., things will be a bit different at the 99th Street Metra station for a while. The construction is going into high gear. Most of the platform will be torn up for a while. The area near the trailer (temporary station) will remain intact, and passengers will board only the rear 2 cars from that location. This is expected to last a month or two.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

saving public transit

This CTA news is yet another reminder that our state legislature is still failing us. Mayor Daley is stepping up and pushing for a sales tax increase to pay for the level of transit service that our local economy needs. Some of our legislators have pursued this option for a while.

If funding is not in place in the next few weeks, we're looking at these fare increases and these service cuts. BTW, if you weren't following the earlier rounds of this nasty game, the routes at the bottom of the service cut page were on the original list but have been restored in this latest version.

Public transit makes it possible for many Chicago residents to live car-free. Many of those who do not currently have cars cannot afford all the costs of owning and maintaining them. We do not have enough room on many streets for more cars.

Meanwhile, there have been hints about fare increases and service cuts at Pace and Metra starting soon. What most folks don't realize is that Metra has already made some cuts. Rush hour service is unaffected. However, the number of cars that are open on night and weekend cars has been reduced in many cases. A UP-Northwest line run that I often take at night is now running with 1 or 2 cars open, instead of the previous 3. Some evening/late night Rock Island runs are running with one less car now. This means fuel savings (lighting and ventilation systems) and fewer conductors. Trains are more crowded and much noisier.

Next Tuesday 8/28 there will be a rally in support of transit funding and reform at the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph in downtown Chicago) starting at 11:30 a.m. Whether or not you can get to the rally, please contact your legislators and voice your support for transit funding and reform before we've lost service that may be difficult to restore. Our city and our jobs depend on it.

BP backs down

Today's good news: BP has agreed to stay within the limits of its current discharge permit, rather than increasing its discharge of ammonia and sludge into Lake Michigan. After initial insistence that the increased discharge was necessary, then a hint that they might reconsider, this news is very welcome. A big thumbs up to everyone who wrote or participated in a protest to help make this happen!

new in the neighborhood

I've been meaning to check out Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies since the place opened recently. A Trib piece on it last week gave me a reminder. I tried the basic sweet potato pie and the non-dairy soft serve "ice cream" (created as a treat for the lactose intolerant). Both were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. They also have a praline & pecan version, a sugar free version (for diabetics), baked sweet potatoes with different toppings (meat or veggie), deli sandwiches, muffins, cookies, etc.

If you've never tried sweet potato pie, it's similar to pumpkin. Tasty stuff! Great addition to the neighborhood.

Check out Jimmy Jamm at 1844 W. 95th St. (773-779-9105) 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

more rabid bats

More rabid bats have been found in Cook County. Be careful out there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

mosquito spraying this week - updated

Here's an alert from the Chicago Dept. of Health:

The City of Chicago Department of Health will be spraying to combat West Nile Virus on tonight (Tuesday). Spraying will begin promptly at 7:00 pm and conclude at 2:00 am.

The trucks will be using Anvil, an insecticide approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The trucks are staffed by licensed mosquito abatement technicians who dispense an ultra-low-volume spray. Residents are advised to keep their families and pets indoors and close their windows while spraying is underway.

Additionally, in the morning following the spraying, you may want to hose down any outdoor furniture or recreation equipment. The Department of Health is also advising residents to drain water from outdoor birdbaths and children's wading pools every four days and beware of old tires, jars, or other containers that may contain standing water.

If you have questions about these efforts, please see our website at

FSBO gone wrong

There were so many quirky things about this FSBO gone wrong that I'd bet the attorneys' fees easily eclipsed what the buyer would have paid a realtor in fees. Oops!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rabid bat alert

Animal Control put out an alert yesterday about an incident that happened this week in Rogers park. On Monday someone found a bat in their 3rd floor apartment on the 7400 block of N. Hoyne. They called 311. Animal Control came to remove the bat.

The bat was DOA at Animal Control HQ. It was sent to a lab for rabies testing, per normal procedure. The bat tested positive for rabies. This is the 6th rabid bat found in Cook County in 2 weeks. Rabies is not unusual in wild animals, especially at this time of year, but it's a good idea to take a few precautions. Please have your pets vaccinated for rabies. Don't handle dead animals. If you find a living wild animal that if injured or confined, or a dead animal, don't touch it. Call 311 for help or instructions on safe disposal of a dead animal.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Garfield Park Conservatory plant clinic

Weekend Plant Information Clinic
Saturdays and Sundays (throughout the year)
Hours: Drop in between 11 am - 4 pm
Where: Conservatory Front Lobby
Cost: Free

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners are available in the Conservatory's front lobby to look at your plants or just answer questions Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am - 4 pm. Drop by with your plant or questions. Or you can call in your questions to (773) 265-9587, fax them to (773) 265-9588, or email questions to wolfordr at mail.aces.uiuc dot edu

BP to reconsider

This week's news about increased pressure on BP's refinery expansion plans and today's update that they may reconsider has been welcome.

Towards the end of the article, there's a quote that makes me wonder whether this guy was misquoted or if his priorities are actually that twisted. David Ullrich, former EPA bigwig, who is now director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (advocacy group of the region's mayors) is quoted as saying "There will be a day when water is more important than gasoline."

Huh? Our bodies and those of most living beings on earth can't survive without water. We don't require gasoline to physically exist. I sure hope that was a misquote, otherwise this guy is in the wrong job.

But back to BP....apparently the underlying issue is that BP's existing land does not have enough room for expansion of the water treatment plant to treat discharge to eliminate the increased pollution that would come from their refinery expansion. If they're reconsidering on the pollution issue, perhaps they can come up with a revised plan. It seems we've gotten their attention.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday funny

Here's a very punny news story from the Trib - how a wiener can be a loser. TGIF.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

interesting twist in presidential campaign

Today's news: Rudy Giuliani’s daughter is on board with Obama. Now this is an interesting twist. ;)


I was surprised that no one commented on this issue. Your $0.02?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tour de France - now and future

This year's Tour de France is a unfortunate reflection on the sad state of sports. It's hard to know who is honest and who is doping. It's hard to believe in the achievements we see. Both the best and worst are represented in the Tour de France. Bobby Julich gives an inside perspective, as a former professional racer. Bonnie DeSimone offers her view on the future.

green choices - recycle in your garden

Here are two good ways you can recycle in your garden: composting and mulching with newsprint.

Kitchen waste (fruit and veggie peels and non-seed parts, egg shells, tea leaves, etc.) can be mixed with yard waste (grass clippings, broken up tree branches, leaves, dried up flowers) and newsprint (non-slick pages) to make a great nutrient booster for your plants and trees. You can build your own compost bin, or buy one. The city of Chicago periodically has them available for Chicago residents at a subsidized price. Look for announcements in the local papers (usually in spring) or on the city's Dept. of Environment web page.

I got one of the city bins last summer. It got a slow start. I found that the compost needed to be turned regularly (once a week or more) and needed a certain level of moisture for things to decompose quickly. Turning the pile with a pitchfork or hoe or shovel can be challenging unless you have a fair amount of upper body strength. When I got a compost turner tool, it made the job a LOT easier (5 minutes with the tool, compared to 20-30 minutes with a shovel) and speeded up the process of decomposition by about 5 times. One trick I learned was to rinse the tool afterwards to keep it from getting clogged. I do this over the bin, adding moisture to help the materials rot.

When I pull weeds, I hold a bunch together and cut them with scissors before adding them to the compost bin so that they rot quicker. I crumple dry leaves up and break or cut small branches into pieces. Whatever you add rots faster if you shred it or break it into smaller bits. This is true for newsprint as well. BTW, the newer inks now used in newsprint are often soy-based and generally use non-toxic pigments, unlike the inks used years ago.

One warning: do NOT include seeds when you're adding to your compost bin. Unless your compost gets really hot, it will not kill the seeds, and you'll be spreading them wherever you spread your compost. If seeds are from an invasive weed, it could get everywhere fast.

Now that the compost is rotting fast, I've got a ready supply of black gold for the garden. My strawberries had stopped producing at the end of June. I put compost around the base of each plant and watered well. Within a week, the plants had new flowers on them. Now I'm eating strawberries again. Plants that were looking so-so are doing a lot better with the addition of compost. Of course, regular watering is a key piece of the equation.

You can use newsprint as mulch. Lay 3 or 4 sheets over an area, either around existing plants or poking holes where you'll plant new ones. It helps keep weeds from getting light to grow. You can add a light layer of damp leaves or bark mulch on top to hold it down and make it look nicer. Use a thicker layer of newsprint to kill grass in areas where you want to later remove grass for new flower or veggie beds.

Newsprint can also be used to make starter pots for seeds.

It's cool to be able to recycle and grow things at the same time.

Friday, August 3, 2007


The invasion has begun. *sigh* Wouldn't it be nice to have a summer weekend to be able to enjoy downtown and the lakefront without a huge festival overrunning everything and clogging the streets and the trains with too many people?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

BP update

When I read about the EPA's refusal to reconsider allowing BP to go ahead with increased dumping of ammonia and sludge into Lake Michigan, it was a rude slap in the face, another reminder that we're still deep in the unethical heart of Shrubland. Anything goes as long as the oil companies make more money.

At least King Richie has a spine on this issue.

What's wrong with this picture, folks? How can an agency whose stated purpose is to protect the environment say that it's okay to pollute more?

I hope that things don't get much worse before the next election, and that enough votes are cast by people who have both a brain and a conscience to turn this misguided ship around.

vivid landmark inspires new musical

An amusing story from Seattle...