Monday, March 30, 2009

I have some very clever friends

Block the Block!


Good gawd...where do I begin?

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. And I've got so much to say.

The drive was great. The company was even better. We only missed one exit and managed to get turned back around on LSD without causing a horrific traffic pileup. heh

The weather was pretty was cold and windy...then it rained...then it snowed...heavily. We still managed to have a fantastic time.

Our first glimpse of the skyline.

Even though I'm no fan, Soldier Field was pretty impressive.

Click the "Read more" more. heh

LSD is really a gorgeous drive.

We stayed at the
  • Westin Chicago River North

  • The service was exceptional, the rooms were upscale and plush, the beds sucked but the view from our 11th floor room...well it couldn't be beat.

    Our very first stop was right across the street at the
  • House of Blues
  • . We were there early in the afternoon, so there wasn't much goin on, but the lobby alone, is worth a look-see.

    HOB from the 11th floor of the Westin.

    Our next stop was again, right across and up the street a bit, the bar at
  • Harry Caray's
  • . The huge plates of free, homemade chips were a big hit with was the Blue Moon on tap. heh

    Our cohorts in crime, Jack and Karen.

    I dunno who these people are, but I think they were drunk. heh

    Onward and upward...uh...downward to
  • Dick's Last Resort
  • , which is also just across the street from the Westin. A very cool bar/restaurant with a decidedly tropical, easy vibe and an excellent view of the Chicago River.

    Da Zigster...about to say something profound, no doubt.

    "Tropical" drinks are really cool. Especially in the middle of the middle of winter. heh

    The bartender at Dick's was...kind?...enough to make the Birthday Girl a party hat. It read, "I'm so old, I lost my cherry to George Washington." She's not really that old.

    It all started to deteriorate...really badly...after we got a few "Crabby Balls" and deep-fried green beans.

    Deciding we really ought to try to see something...other than the inside of a bar...we grabbed a taxi and headed down to the
  • Navy Pier

  • Unfortunately, I don't remember much about it. It looked like a ginormous mall. Ho hum. By this time, the appetizers had worn off, so we hit the first place that looked good,
  • Bubba Gump's

  • Ziggy's fish sammich looked pretty tasty.

    I had stuffed shrimp...something. Can't remember what it was called, but I do remember it being delicimous.

    Bellies full, tired and drunk as skunks, we braved the cold rain just long enough to grab another taxi back to the hotel. We tried to be good. We really did. But I'm not sure the Westin will ever let us back in again. Trying to appear as...ah...respectable as we could...under the circumstances...we navigated through the lobby ok. The trouble started when we got on the elevator. Well, actually, it started when the elevator doors opened on the wrong floor...a fact that Karen pointed out by saying, "Ooops...wrong floor."

    Now, that part wasn't so bad. But when Ziggy's partial plate...for whatever reason...came flying outa his mouth and landed on the floor of the elevator...and he promptly replied, "Ooops! Wrong teeth!"...well, we all sorta lost it.

    We lost it bad. In fact, I just lost it again, typin it. It was just one a those things. Ya hadda be there.

    I could picture the headlines...

    Three Killed in Freak Elevator Accident! Fourth Dies Laughing.

    Sunday was every bit as much fun, albeit without the alcohol.

    We headed down to
  • Chinatown
  • under the excellent guidance of
  • Leslie
  • , whom is every bit as lovely in person as I had imagined. She truly made our day by taking us under her wing and showin us around.

    DO go read her take on the's far better than I could have described.

    I'll do my Chinatown photos in a post to follow...because this is gettin waaaay too long.

    Chicago's Chinatown

    As with all photos, click on to embiggen.

  • Leslie
  • tells the story far better than I can.

    Click the "Read more" to see more photos.

    The tilework on a lot of the buildings is amazing.

    It was so garish and tacky...I just had to have one!

    A Chinese butcher store...complete with smoked chicken, duck...and squid...hanging in the window.

    The Chinese grocery store offers sights...and behold.

    We all stopped to rest a bit and have a little nosh at a Chinese bakery.

    A tribute to diversity...a Chinese pagoda-type roof, against the backdrop of the Sears Tower.

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    All my bags are packed...

    I'm ready to go...

    Well, we're ready...because I packed. If it was up to da Zigster, packin would entail throwin a clean t-shirt and pair a jeans in the suitcase.

    Howsomever, us country bumpkins, along with a couple of our country bumpkin pals, is a-headin to the big city in the Ay Em. And as ya'll know, big-city-type clothing is a bit more...ah...shall we say...refined?

    They'd look at us kinda funny if'n we showed up at that there valet parkin place in our overalls, doncha know?

    Anywho, we're headin to Chicago. I can't wait, because I've never been there. And I do love big cities. Oh, I'd never wanna live in one, but I loooove to visit 'em.

    I also can't wait because, quite honestly, this past month was like the Capitol City of the Great State of Suckage 'round here. Major suckage. Sickness. Floods. No toilet. More sickness. Da Zigster's ManVan gettin crunched. More flooding. No hot water (and we still don't have any). I'm tellin ya...the first thing I'm gonna do when we get here... take an hour-long, hot shower. Well, maybe not the first thing. But ya can betcher ass I'll get a couple of 'em in, somewhere.

    Looks kinda swanky, huh? And, didja's right on a river. heh

    I tell ya...I've been Little Miss Planner this afternoon. I've got a whole list of places that we wanna see and things we wanna do. Now I just need to plan just exactly how we're gonna do it in...oh...roughly 28 hours. Minus the 6 or 8 we sleep. And the 2 that I'll use up in the shower.

    Jeeezus, though...The Field. Shedd Aquarium. Navy Pier, Chinatown, the Conservatory...all the touristy places. I'd also love to find a really great blues joint and prowl around in some of the off the beaten path places. We're just not gonna have enough time to do it all. But we can get a taste, maybe. And do it again sometime.

    Oh...and we're gonna get to meet
  • Leslie
  • ! Though we've never had a face-to-face meetup, I feel like I already know her.

    The Tale of the Travel will follow. Complete with photos!

    Providing I don't forget the friggin camera.

    Ooooo...this is gonna be soooooo fun!

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Gotta love the JB

    Swiped from
  • Nate
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    I don't know if I can explain...

    ...but that's never stopped me from trying.

    So, I was readin through the "Opinion" page in the
  • PJStar
  • last night and I stumbled across this particularly profound one:

    "I will admit right off that I do not have a college degree in the science of hydrology, but through years of study on my own I believe I have come with the solution to the woes and tribulations caused by the periodic flooding of our rivers, creeks and streams.

    Get a pencil and paper. Ready? Write this valuable flood prevention information down:

    Don't build your home or business on a floodplain!"

    On one hand, I tend to agree. I think it's sort of irresponsible for someone to build a new home in a floodplain. But there are a lotta homes that are already there. Like ours. And, despite the huge PITA that these last couple of floods have been, I can't imagine living anywhere else. I think all of my neighbors would agree.

    However, one of the comments to this opinion kind of rang my bell...especially the part I highlighted:

    "Last time I got too close to the river, besides the smell (which was a cross between rotted garbage and chemical fumes), I noticed a lot of floating litter, the lovely brown of the water, and a nice, bloated carcass of either a very large rat or a possum. It's intestines had burst from the stomach and were as bloated, floating next to it, like a big umbilical cord. It was quite frankly the grossest thing I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of gross stuff in my time.

    I don't understand the fascination with the river, living on it, riding on it, going to businesses down by it. Though I do like to go to the EP Steak N Shake and watch barges on occasion. If my home or business had a chance of flooding from being too close, I'd relocate in a heartbeat. But I've seen two new houses being built along the river towards Chillicothe. Just don't get it. And why do insurance companies keep insuring these people? Only to raise our rates when the next big flood hits.

    Maybe people should be less obsessed with taming the land and changing it to suit their needs. Maybe there's something to be said for adjusting your lifestyle to fit your surroundings, instead of vice versa. Just like the oldsters who retire to Arizona and insist on having a grass lawn. When I plant my garden, I don't plant coconut, kiwi fruit or sugar cane. I plant squash, beans, and tomatoes. Duh."

    Like I said, I don't know what my particular fascination with the river is. Maybe it's because I've lived near it most of my life, though never quite as near as we are now. Yea, it's a lot more silty than it used to be, mostly because of over-farming. And yea, there's the occasional bit of garbage that some asshole tossed away. But I've never noticed any kind of "chemical" smell...unless you could call the odor of a dead, washed-up carp chemical. I call it "natural". It's nature. Animals die and get washed away. Or they fall in and drown.

    It ain't a swimming pool, fer chrissakes.

    In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the river is actually cleaner than it used to be. Years ago, people that lived along the river used it as a garbage disposal/sewage system on a day to day basis. Today, we have things like the EPA and countless rules, regulations and laws about what you can and can't dispose of in the river. Today, we have modern sewage systems and the PDC.

    Aaaanyway...back to trying to understand my own fascination with the river.

    Maybe it's because of the occasionally-spectacular sunrises...when I can drag my ass outa bed to see 'em. Get a really good sunrise over the river and it's not to be believed. Or a big full moon. I'm tellin ya...sometimes it can move me to tears. And I can't even begin to explain what it's like when the fog rolls in. It's like a big, soft blanket falling over the river. It's the absolute definition of the word "hush".

    Maybe it's because of the abundant wildlife around here. Ducks, hawks, geese, bald eagles and white pelicans by the hundreds call this little spot "home". When's the last time ya saw a Canadian goose, an American White Pelican and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk...all in the same day? The squirrels, groundhogs, ground squirrels and other local-type critters are a continual source of amusement...and sometimes consternation. Oh, and the Mayflies...those floaty, mouth-less, ethereal little fairies that live for only a day or two...long enough to breed and lay their eggs for the next generation to do it all over again.

    Maybe it's the assorted modes of transportation that float by the house every day. Huge barges, filled with coal or grain or...gawd knows what...bound for parts unknown. Sailboats and pontoons and houseboats. Racing boats and paddlewheelers and kayaks and canoes. Everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Like Rosanna-Danna says, It's always something.

    Maybe it's because of the river, itself. It's moods are ever-changing and unpredictable Some days, it's languid, slow-moving and smooth as glass...other days, it's roiling and wild and angry, flinging itself upon the ground like a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum. Some days, it's as blue as the sky...others, it's a muddled mix of gray and brown.

    Yea, I dunno what the fascination is. I do know that the river is It's my touchstone. On my way home...from wherever I've been...the first glimpse of it makes me...relax...sigh. For whatever reason, it's where I'm supposed to be. It's "home".

    So, I'll say this to the "unknown commenter", who probably lives in a safe, clean, ho-hum subdivision where all the ticky-tacky homes look exactly the same: Stay there with your perfectly manicured, pest-free yard. Stay there where your biggest worry is how to keep up with the Jones'. Stay there, close to your strip malls and chain restaurants and 62-screen movie theaters. Stay there. You couldn't handle it out here, anyway.

    Me? I'll just crack open a Corona, go sit on the deck and watch the river go by.

    Just as soon as it gets a little warmer.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Aye, cap'n....

    ...the sea, she's a might choppy today.

    Dang. I don't believe I've ever seen the river this rough. Pretty impressive, really. The waves are breaking on the river wall, sending some plumes 8-10 feet high.

    It could damn near make ya seasick just watchin it.

    I'm just glad the wind didn't kick up like this while we were flooded. We'd have definitely been swimmin with the fishes. heh

    Yup....I'm ready for one

    You Are Spring Break

    You are fun loving and celebratory. You live for good times with friends and strangers.

    You like meeting and mingling. You are a social person by nature.

    You like to "play hard"... even if you don't work hard.

    You are able to let go of your worries and truly enjoy life.

    In fact, we're takin a teeny bit of a spring break next weekend. We're off to Chicago with a couple of our bestest buds for a weekend of fun, food and foo-foo drinks. Actually, it'll probably be more like bawdiness, burgers and beer.

    The country hicks visit the big city! Oughta be a trip.

    I'm lookin forward to it. I've only been to Chicago once. On a bus. To a ballgame. And I hate baseball. I only went for the chance to see a bit of the town. heh

    With any luck though, we might get to finally meet up with
  • Leslie
  • ....from whom I swiped this little doo-dad.

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    What economic crisis?

    I know there must be one. I keep hearin about it in the news.

    But I didn't see it yesterday.

    Aahhhh...Saturday. Whatta great day. The water was low enough that we got both cars in. And back out again. Wheeeee!

    Aaanyway, Pammy Hubbard's Cupboard was damn near bare. If we wanted to eat, I had to make a grocery-shoppin trip. Not that I necessarily minded this had been almost two weeks since I'd set foot out of the house.

    I decided to pass up the local Kroger's and head into town...just for the ride, ya know? I was just anxious to go.

    I figured I'd hit TJMaxx and wander around a little before heading to the grocery store. I'm tellin ya...I haven't seen TJMaxx that packed. Ever. It was worse than at Christmas. And people weren't just browsing. They were buyin.
    I know because...uh...well, I was buyin, too. Just doin my part to stimulate the economy. And standin in a loooong damn line to do it.

    That was so much fun, I figured I'd hit Marshall's while I was at it. And they were just as crowded as TJ. I managed to snag a leather
  • Makowsky
  • handbag that I've been hot for. (Fuck you, PETA) Yea. I needed another purse, ok? And I love it, love it, love it! It was my reward for being cooped up for two weeks. heh And hadda stand in a loooong line there, as well.

    Well then. Onward and upward. Kroger's was every bit as crowded as the first two stores. But I did manage to get a whole cart's worth of grub, in a fairly reasonable amount of time...and walked right into an empty checkout lane. YeeeHaw!

    I didn't see one damn sign of an economic crisis in Evergreen Square on Saturday afternoon. 'Course, I did my part...for the cause. heh

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Where I stand...and why

    I jumped on the BLOCK "THE BLOCK" wagon.

    PEORIA —

    It's being called the museum tax. But, after the first read-through of the actual sales tax referendum question that, if approved, would raise $40 million to help pay for the Peoria Riverfront Museum, it's obvious there's something missing:

    Like the word "museum."

    The whole article is
  • here

  • The first sentence of the referendum question reads:

    "To pay for public facility purposes, shall Peoria County be authorized to impose an increase on its share of local sales taxes by one quarter of one per cent ( 1/4 percent) for a period not to exceed twenty (20) years?"

    The "public facility purposes" refers to the construction of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, but Peoria County voters would need to know that going into the voting booth on April 7 or to the early voting locations before that. Public facility purposes are defined in the statute as those "for use by the county for the furnishing of governmental services to its citizens, including but not limited to museums and nursing homes."

    What they say: "...for a period not to exceed twenty (20) years".

    What they mean: "Unless we decide we need it longer...and we will."

    What they say: "...for use by the county for the furnishing of governmental services to it's citizens, including but not limited to museums and nursing homes."

    What they mean: "For any damn thing we want to use it for...and we will."

    When all this hoo-haa started about building a museum downtown, I thought it was probably a great idea. Until I started reading a little more about the specifics. And until the economy went into the shitter. So I've decided that I won't support this multi-million-dollar boondoggle. Here's why.

    1. It's just plain...fiscally irresponsible right now. Yea, it'll create some jobs. For a couple years. For a couple hundred people. A drop in the bucket.

    2. It's not gonna be "free". Oh, Peoria County residents'll get a 15% discount. Whoop-de-fuckin-do. Has anyone notified the Build the Block organization or their supporters that there are a whole lotta people around here that just lost their jobs? And those people can't pay their mortgages or car payments or feed their families? And that the economy's not gonna just bounce right back anytime soon? Not in a year. Not in two years. Do they live in caves, or what?

    3. The last I heard, it's not gonna be open on the weekends. (WTF??)

    4. I think the attendance projections are highly inflated. Sorry, but I just can't see 360,000 people a year flocking to pay to see exhibits like "The Caterpillar Experience" or the "IHSA Peak Performance Center".

    5. I think the projected cost of building the museum is way off, too. When's the last time you saw a multi-million dollar project finished right on (or under) the targeted budget? Not. Gonna. Happen.

    6. Did I mention that it's just plain, all-the-way-around, fiscally irresponsible right now? I did, didn't I? Well, it's worth mentioning twice.


    And now for your daily "Flood Report"

    All flood. All the time.


    I can't believe how green the grass got...under water, even.

    Somebody with a big-ass 4WD truck managed to get in this morning. The water was up over the tars in places...but he made it.

    The SS Minnow is now grounded.

    Suck it up

    So. I tried a couple of the
  • Space Bags
  • last night.

    I'm impressed.

    I'm also impressed by another product.

    See, we have a running joke around Casa de River Rat about duct tape and WD40. If ya don't want it to move, use duct tape. If ya do, use WD40.

    Anywho, at some point, Zig picked up a roll of
  • Gorilla Tape
  • I shit you's like duct tape on steroids.

    It works great on sealing holes on things that are supposed to be air-tight. Like Space Bags.

    See where this is going? Uh huh. My neurotic, Pica-afflicted bastardcat chewed holes in a couple of the pricey Space Bags. The...ah...supposedly "air-tight"...Space Bags, rendering them...well...not.

    Thankfully, I discovered this fact before I filled 'em, so I was able to use the Gorilla tape-fix.



    So far, the seal seems to be holding. The two bags of sweaters I did last night are still tightly compressed. The hanging bag for my coats, however...yea, he hit that one, too.

    Now I've gotta find some place to stash ' he can't chew on 'em again. (sigh)

    Thursday, March 19, 2009



    You Are Asparagus

    You're not exactly subtle. You seduce people by being highly suggestive.

    And surprisingly, it works. Your outrageous ways are very appealing.

    You always try to look as sexy as possible. Even if it means being a bit inappropriate.

    You somehow always manage turn the vibe sexual. You have more fun when everyone is being naughty!

    Swiped from
  • Leslie
  • Seein' green

    The water's finally low enough in the yard to see a little grass peekin through.

    The daylillies seem to love the goopy, black silt.

    Kinda cool to see ducks the yard.

    "Yard carp". heh

    This is really the time that it's hardest to get around. It's too shallow for a boat in a lotta places...but damn near too deep for chest waders in others. Ya gotta wade and drag a boat along for the drop-offs. With a little luck...and if the weather holds, we might be able to drive in by Sunday or Monday.

    The flood water's especially silty this time. It's gonna make for one nasty-ass cleanup, that's for sure. And it's like walkin on ice to wade through. But I'm thinkin it's also gonna make for some really fine fertilizer. I bet we'll have some kick-ass tomatoes this year.

    The FEMA guy was here already today. That's really fast compared to last year. 'Course, this time, they're really too early. Really couldn't look at anything yet. Most of the damage is confined to the basement...which is still completely full. He shoulda worn his diving gear.

    Didn't do the Space Bag thing yesterday. Just didn't feel good. Maybe later today...or tomorrow.

    "After all...tommorrah IS another day." - Scarlet O'Hara.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    So, I got sucked in

    Pun very much intended.

    I routinely go through my teeny closet every season...switching out the winter clothes with the summer ones...and vice-versa. There's just not room in there for both.

    I should be ashamed of myself (I'm not). I have entirely too many clothes.

    My problem is, that when I make the switch, I don't have any place to put the out-of-season stuff. They wind up packed in totes or clothes baskets, stuffed in the spare room or hauled up to the loft. And they take up a lotta that we just don't have. It's especially bad when I try to pack up the winter stuff...all those sweaters take up a lotta room, ya know?

    Soooo anywho...a couple weeks ago, I got sucked in (get it?) by the commercial for
  • Space Bags
  • and ordered some.

    And they're here!

    (Jeeeezus I bored, or what? Gettin all excited over Space Bags and organizing my closet. I think cabin fever is setting in. Kill me.)

    See, they woulda been here sooner, but because of the flood, we haven't been gettin any mail. So da Zigster made a trip to the PO yesterday, through the flood, to pick it up. I figure the Space Bags'll be great too...if we have another flood. My stuff won't get all wet...from the flood.

    Yea, I know. I've been doin a lotta flood-blogging. But...uh...well, this blog's pretty much all about my life and me and what happens to me and how it affects me. Which is pretty much how a lotta other bloggers blog. Sooo...

    But I digress. As usual.

    So,'s the Great Closet Organization Day.

    I'm just gonna suck it up...and do it. heh

    Photos will follow. Because, gawd life is so boring that I have nothing better to do.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    The Inquisition...whatta show!

    The we go!

    No, this post isn't about
  • History of the World, Part 1
  • of my favorite movies, btw. Gotta love Mel Brooks.

    It's about another movie...a Milos Forman flick,
  • Goya's Ghosts
  • I think it's gonna be added to my list of all-time faves.

    Having been "restricted" to the house for the last week and a half, I've done a lotta tv watchin. I stumbled across this movie and got caught up in it.

    Now, I love a good historical flick...if it's not ponderous as they sometimes can be. This one's definitely not ponderous. It's also not so much about of my favorite artists.

    It's set during the latter period of the Spanish Inquisition/Napoleon's invasion of Madrid.

    Strangely enough, getting past the fact that Goya is played by Stellan Skarsgard, a easy. Despite the title of the film, it's not so much about Goya as it is about the greed, cruelty and hypocrisy of the Catholic church and specifically, Father Lorenzo, played by Javier Bardem, who is Spanish.

    Aaanywho, if ya like historical flicks, this one gets a thumbs up from moi.

    My hero....Thomas Crapper

    Ok, so I know that Thomas Crapper wasn't the first inventor of the flush toilet.
  • Sir John Harrington
  • was.

    But let's face it...using Crapper in the post title just sounds better.

    But the Honorable Mr. Crapper did invent the
  • ballcock

  • And...I mean...c'mon...ballcock is such a great word. But I digress.

    The toilet flushes!

    The water's down about 8 inches...enough to allow my beloved commode to do it's daunting doodie...uh...I mean duty, once again. It's down enough that we no longer depend on the cursed camping toilet for our know.

    What the hell. 'Nother week and we might even have our own running water again. Two weeks...maybe even hot water!

    Baby steps. Small miracles.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    The daily flood report

    As on photos for bigger view.

    The water's dropped...a bit...4-5 inches, maybe.

    Don't think they'll be using their garage any time soon.

    There's my little white car...waaaay up there.

    Where's that damn paperboy?

    Down a step.

    Pretty much still the status quo here. Still sick. Still flooded. Still sick of being sick...and flooded.