Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend - The Mulitpart Saga - Part I - Long Grove

Thanksgiving Break has come and almost gone.  It was a nice time that included my mother and father coming up from the St. Louis region to stay with us.  A fun time was had by all, and we were able to go and do a couple of things I have not done before.

Going to Long Grove is one of those things I had not done before, but turned out to be a very nice thing.  My wife and I went with my mom and dad on Friday to historical Long Grove.  This is a little crossroads of the town that has a nice little shopping area set in historical houses.  It is more of  a boutique type of thing that has several little specialty stores.  On a day I know the malls were full and lots of shopping was being done in a hurried manner, this was much more my speed.  We meandered for a couple of hours through the different shops.  Here are some of them...and my impressions:

The Artistic Gardner - This was the first shop we went to...and quite possibly my favorite of all the ones we saw.  There is a lot of lawn art made of reclaimed metal.  All of it is very well done.  There were a few pieces I liked...but will have to go back when I have saved up some money.  They do sell jewelry, some furniture, and various other things.  We actually ended up buying some very cool placemats there.  (Never thought I would string the words "very cool" and "placemats" together....)  I'm sure the Nature Nerd and Chicago Gardner have already been there...but if they have not - it is a place they should check out.

Paddy's on the Square - This was an Irish-themed shop that I loved, as well.  While there were many nice tweed and wool articles of clothing being sold, the thing I liked the most was the artwork by Wild Goose Studios.  Some were simple sayings, some were intricate Celtic crosses and knots, and some were replicas of different historical carvings.  All were very well done...and there were a lot I could have bought.  There were also some illuminated page artwork pieces being sold there.  The historian in me really liked those.

While those were the two main stores that stick out in my mind, there were several others I liked.  There was the Dakota Designs which sold moccasins and Native American artwork.  There were some nice pieces there (and my wife ended up getting some Minnitaka moccasin slippers there).  There was also a yarn store there.  If you wanted a certain type of yarn...I'm sure they had it.  They even had some alpaca yarn.  It was so soft that it inspired my wife to start to learn how to knit...that way we can go back and get some for her to use.

The one store that was a disappointment to me was the "British Import" store.  Having some Christmas crackers, some Marmamite, and black currant soda does not make you a British Import store...or if it does, not a very good one.

We were going to go to the Mill Pond Cafe...but the wait was a bit too long.  That gives us something to look forward to visiting next time we go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Final Step

Mailed off the short, short story today.  Final word count: 1,143.  Don't hear anything about it until around February 15th...and that is only if it is in the top 25.  Already working on another story for the next contest.  This time, however, I can use up to 4,000 words.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What's in a name?

My wife and I were driving through Cook County and I started to see some of the names for the different nature preserves in the area.  They were really interesting...and got me to wondering how people come up with the names for different things like this.  Is it quite the literal translation that creates the name?  Were they just being creative?

It reminded me of when I was living in Medmenham, England.  This was a small place just outside another small village named Marlow.  (It was down the Thames...pretty close to Henley on the Thames...where the royal regatta was held and George Harrison lived).  One of the street names always struck me as funny - Spittle Street.  I'd joke with my friends and family about this.  Where people trying to figure out to name it...and then someone spat and the guy said, "I know..Spittle Street!"

These names struck me as similar:

Belly Deep Slough - Is the slough really only so deep that if I waded into it, it would come up to my belly?
Hidden Lake -  Not so hidden it?

I am sure others were more literal:

Little Red School House Nature Center - I assume there is a little red school house they made into a nature center here... (I'm sure the Nature Nerd would be able to tell me if this is true)
Moraine Valley - I assume the valley is a moraine...
White Oak Forest Preserve - umm...there were a lot of oaks guess would be they were white oaks.

We did have a good time walking through one of the woods down there.  Surprisingly, I never got the name of the one we actually walked through.  We did a nice hour hike that took us down through a ravine and a long a lot of switchbacks.  The forest down there is different than up by us.  Not a lot of undergrowth...but definitely a lot of fallen leaves.  It did seem to be a lot of oak trees.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sonic Landscape

Heard the howl of coyotes tonight...eerily beautiful...

...especially when all the other sounds I heard on my walk were cars, sirens, and the like.  Makes you wonder what the sonic landscape was like back when there were no cars or noisy machinery.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In Denial...

...well, not really any more.  I was enjoying the unseasonably warmer weather, but the cold has hit with a vengeance.  I guess this would be as good a time as any to go ahead and post some of the fall pictures I have taken as my wife and I have been taking the dogs for walks in our different forest preserves.

The pictures below are taken from Grant Forest Preserve over in the Fox Lake area.  It is a nice forest preserve that is divided by a subdivision into two parts.  We walked the larger southern loop this day (it was bout 3.6 miles) and there were a few fallish type things I found along the way to take a picture of.  I do have one interesting tid-bit, however.  We were originally going to go for a walk through the Chain 'O Lakes State Park.  We were pulling into the entrance when we were met with a sign stating the park was closed for hunting.  Now I'm glad they have signs letting you know that...but I really with there had been some other way to find out before we made our way all the way there.  The funny thing is was that it was closed for young hunters and those without licenses (or something like that).  Needless to say, we turned around quickly.

Anyway, here are a couple of the pictures I took:

This is a close up of a milkweed that has "popped."  Most of the seeds have flown, but I thought it has some interesting shapes in it.

It amazes me the different places you can find bird nests.  This was right among all the grasses and, obviously, not that big.
I think golden rod is pretty cool looking when it has gone to see, as well.  I like all the little white puff balls.

This is some grass that was there.  I liked the shape of it and the chunkiness of the seeds.  You can see the feet of my dogs and my wife at the upper left-hand corner. :)

I love trees with interesting shapes.  I thought this one had a cool shape, but it also had a lot of saplings around it.

This is just some nice fall browns.
I am amazed by how fast this year seems to be going.  Pretty soon I will probably be doing some winter picture posts...but until then, I will enjoy the rich browns of autumn.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I finally finished the short, short story that I am going to send in to the contest last night.  All I have to do now is fill out the entry form, peel a stamp, and send it off.  Ended up being around 1,200 words.  I think it would be great if it got published...I'm not thinking it will get any prizes.  Who knows?  I'll let everyone know if anything happened later.  (Then I might float the story, as well...we'll see :) )

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Putting Theory Into Practice

The last couple of weekends have had my wife and I seeing films like Food, Inc, and Fresh.  As anyone who has read my blog can tell, they have made a pretty big impact on me.  We already were moving toward getting much more organic food...but now are trying to do that combined with getting more local fare.

We went to the local farmer's market, and found  a lot of good things...even during the winter session:

There was a lot of produce...and very cheap.  For around ten dollars, we were able to buy all of the produce I have in the  pictures mushrooms (which is really what drove it up to about ten).  It was not all organic, but it was all locally grown and fresh.

You cannot really tell in this picture...but the yams are quite big.

These two heads of lettuce were small...but they taste very good.
Yes, I do like brussel sprouts. These were very tasty.

We stopped by farmer Nick (recommended to us by the Chicago Gardner). He runs his farm much like Salatin does - with the mobile hen coops, pasture fed pigs and cows, and the like.  We paid probably close to double what we would for a whole chicken at the grocery store - but this chicken was easily twice as big.  We also bought a ham steak from him - which we are putting into a split pea soup.  To give you an idea of what a difference treating food the right way makes - my wife does not like pork that much.  With everything that has been going on, we haven't even had "ham" in a very long time.  She took one taste of this - and said that this was how ham was supposed to taste.  I have to agree. It was some of the best ham I have ever tasted.

Guess we'll be going back again. :)

The only problem I am seeing, is the farmer's market is only open until December 19th.  After that, we will have to go to the local grocery stores and see what we can get.  Next year..there will be more freezing and canning - I'm sure.