Photo Time! Skokie Lagoons

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IMG_4018Photo time again! I know it’s been a while since a photo post, but it’s also been a while since I took any photos. Today, I’m sharing pictures from the Skokie Lagoons, which is pretty poorly named, given that they aren’t actually in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, but instead spread over parts of Winnetka, Glencoe and Northfield.

Apparently you can fish there with a license, and you can rent canoes and kayaks. I did none of these things. Instead, I got a ton of mosquito bites, despite copious amounts of bug spray.

I also got some interesting shots! I saw some great birds, though not even a fraction of the species living there. I am a terrible bird spotter. But an excellent mosquito attracter.

This time, interestingly, I didn’t break out the little camera, there was just so much new stuff to capture with my real camera. Hope you enjoy your bite-free visit!
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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time! Independence Grove Forest Preserve

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A reminder: I will be doing a Q&A tomorrow at noon Central U.S. time for Comedy Book Week on Facebook, of all places! Come hang out, ask questions, and take a stab at the fun contest, which will be live later today. I’ll update this post with the link. Here it is! Can you define the word I made up? Come play!

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Another day trip, another round of photos! I really got some beauties. It was a completely new place for me, the Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Lake County Illinois. It’s got a beach and a marina, and it’s just a lovely, lovely place. So much green!

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Playing Hooky by the Rules: Photographic Evidence

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The rules of hooky are simple: avoid all tasks on the to-do list. Enjoy day. Repeat as needed.

So yesterday I ditched everything I should have been doing, and went for Ethiopian food at Chicago’s Ethiopian Diamond restaurant. The pics right there are from their website, which isn’t totally functioning, so I’m not linking, but it gives you an idea of what the food is like.

I was so excited to dig in, I completely forgot to take a picture for everyone. We didn’t do dessert — I actually came home with a to-go box that must have weighed six pounds (it doesn’t anymore!) — but you can see how the food comes on one giant patter, resting on a base of Ethiopian bread, which is called injera.

The injera is soft and spongy, and is tangily-sour. It’s adds a layer of flavor as you use it as a utensil to grab the fragrant stewy food.

My favorites are the vegetarian dishes, though I’m not a vegetarian. But the meats are also wonderful. While the end results can appear similar, every dish has a distinct flavor, but the spices never overwhelm the ingredients. Some can be very spicy, so watch it if you’re not into heat!

After lunch I headed over to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where I broke out my trusty camera. I have mixed feelings about zoos, as I understand their purpose in terms of conservation, but some of the animals just seem so depressed.

Lincoln Park Zoo is just north of downtown Chicago, and it’s free. It opened in 1868, and some of the structures still have that look of animal jails, with the tiny exhibition spaces. But with extensive remodeling in recent years, animals are getting bigger and more natural habitats.

It’s still a zoo, though.

Sometime between 1897-1924. I think that bear is considering whether it can clear that jump.

We focused (ha!) mostly on birds this trip, and they, at least, seemed pretty contented with their lots in life. There was one open room of tropical birds, and they seemed to enjoy the interaction with visitors.

In fact, I’d swear they took turns making sure they had their pictures taken.

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A family! Not sure what they are…

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Wasn’t sorry there was a fence between me and this vulture.

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This little green guy looked like a cartoon character.

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Check out those skinny, skinny , skinny legs and that skinny, skinny beak!

 

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Just love this guy’s swagger.

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This bird had the most amazing scarlet under its wings.

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I’m convinced the snowy owl was the inspiration for the dragon’s face in The Never Ending Story.

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These flamingos made me giggle. There’s such humor in the angle of their beaks.

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In contrast to this ostrich, who had had. E. Nough.

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This bird was such a friendly cutie, it let an 18-month old get super close before finally flying away.

We’ll save the other animals for another day. I hope you enjoyed your vicarious zoo visit!
Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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With P, Thoughts on Planning

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You know what they say about the early bird.

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I admit I kinda felt for that worm. But nature. Also, it wasn’t early, it was afternoon, but you get the gist.

What’s that, hypothetical reader? No, that wasn’t just an excuse to work in these pictures from my Chicago Botanic Garden excursion reminding us how glad we should be that the only remaining dinosaurs snack on worms, not us. I mean, do you see that eye? DO YOU SEE IT?! If it wasn’t a cute little robin, it would be terrifying.

But that’s not what this post is about.

With the A-to-Z Challenge, there are scores of bloggers who planned out their posts in advance, selecting a theme. Many of them are you! No, no, not YOU, hypothetical reader, I mean the fun, interesting, awesome people who have been stopping by this month. No, hypothetical reader, I’m not saying you’re not fun, interesting or awesome. Can we talk about this later? In private?

Anyway, I am not a planner. I don’t plan my blog posts. When I got the A to Z emails talking about theme reveals, I laughed internally. I often don’t know what I’m going to write about until my fingers hit the keyboard.

I’m like that with my novels, too. I couldn’t plan what my characters were going to do or how they would react if I tried, because they often fight me at every turn. Margaret, the protagonist of Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) battled with me the whole way through that book. She’s an obstinate one.

There’s no one right way to approach writing. Some of us are born panstsers (writing by the seat of our pants, thank you NaNoWriMo) and some of us are planners. I suspect that inside the heads of planners, Chopin plays in airy open room as the characters politely pick up their lines and move effortlessly from plot point to plot point.

Inside my head (I won’t speak for other panstsers) drawers hang at perilous angles. Papers, strewn everywhere, flutter in the breeze from a leaky metaphoric window, catching on piles of plotting laundry and squabbling characters. The blinds are crooked, and someone keeps putting on the kettle to boil, but never actually makes the tea.

Yet somehow, eventually, the floors are cleared and shiny, the characters get to where they were heading, making promises of future plans, and that cup of tea is enjoyed in a sweet, completed silence.

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, “Me Inside Me Presents: Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28. Click here for tickets.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

Sunday Was for the Birds

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The other day was gorgeous, and I went to the lakefront, where I sat and watched the boats and the birds. There was a bit of a breeze, and the temperature dipped when the huge, fluffy clouds covered the sun.

I got caught up in the seagulls as they flapped awkwardly, looking like gangly teenagers with too-long-limbs, then suddenly transforming into things of grace as they soared. But the best part was keeping an eye on a bird until it circled, then suddenly plunged toward the surface of the water.

Most of the time, they’d emerge, a flash of silver in their beaks until, in a second, it was gone.

Now and again, they’d pull up right before they hit the water, arcing back toward the sky or plopping down and bobbing with the waves. I couldn’t be sure they didn’t know I was watching, that they weren’t, perhaps, giving me a show as they got their dinner.

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Taking in the Dinosaurs

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Sometimes I look at a goose and think you can almost just see a dinosaur, a scaled-down version, here in our modern world. They way they move; their necks; that sharp glint in their eyes. It makes me wonder how scientists didn’t see it all along, the connection between birds and dinosaurs.

It’s right there.

Now there is evidence that Tyrannosaurus rex, that (arguably) most fearsome of creatures among fearsome creatures was, in fact, related to chickens. Chickens.

Imagine that coming down in the world. Chickens don’t seem terribly fearsome at all. It’s like the tough guy, the neighborhood baddie, the guy who sends everyone into fits of shivers when they see him being uncovered as a closet rubber band collector. Not very scary.

Unless the guy is 40 feet long. Then his hobby probably doesn’t sound funny, no matter how silly it is.

It makes me think what mystery there is in this world, and how many answers are directly in front of us that we just can’t see.