Saturday, April 14, 2012


This past weekend, Miss Healthypants, (Carla) her husband, and I had the last of our "balcony nights" together on the 50th-floor balcony at my place.  I'll be moving into my new condo up on Lake Shore Drive on May 2nd. I have to admit, I'm pretty excited about it. 
However, moving away from my 50th apartment at Marina Towers is pretty significant. I've lived up here in these goofy, retro, iconic buildings for eight years now. Living here has definitely made me a true Chicagoan. (My apartment and balcony is ten floors from the top; way up there).
Miss Healthypants, her husband, and I have lived one block from each other for the past eight years. I'll miss living downtown, but more than that, I'll miss living just across the river from these wonderful friends.
Here is a recent sunset view from my balcony. 
You gotta admit, it can get awfully pretty up here:
 I'll always have the memories of living only a block away from each other; I've had the pleasure of living in downtown Chicago on the 50th floor one block away from them on the 21st floor of their building for eight years. (Good Lord, my new place on Lake Shore is just 19 minutes on the 145 or 146 express bus from their door to mine!) There are very few boys  from small-town Texas who have had the pleasure of living like this.
Last year, Civil Unions between same-sex couples were legalized in Illinois. I noticed it when filling out my state tax forms last week. (As a Single person, I paid almost double the taxes compared to married or unioned couples, thank you) Yes, I was happy to check the "single" box but proud to live in a state where I could have checked the other.
If anyone ever wonders what a true Union is, I only have to look toward my dear friends, John and Miss Healthypants, who've been pretty much married longer than anyone I've ever known (15 years). 
I've never known a couple who enjoys each other as much as they do. I've never known any couple as happy as they are (even when they exclude me on their weekly excursions to the zoo, by themselves) and I'll do anything to support such a union.
If anyone would ever help me check that new "Union" box as I move on with my current life as a home-owner, it would be my dear friends, John and Carla.  
I would only need to look to them to see "THIS is how a loving union is DONE.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dog Carrier

I snapped this photo on the way to work this morning. 

I see this more and more in downtown Chicago: Pedestrians carrying small dogs in rolling suitcases. I'm sure some pet product company makes rolling dog carriers, but this is probably a less expensive and more convenient option. As long as the pooch is comfy and happy, I'm tempted to say go for it.

However -- the dog is not on a leash. Little Fido or Fifi could become excited and run out into traffic. The suitcase thing is probably not in the best interest of doggy safety. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Easter is right around the corner. Frilly dresses are in readiness for little girls. Bunnies are putting their last-minute touches on colored eggs.

For church musicians, it’s “crunch time.” Holy Thursday is today and there’ll be lots of Very Significant music to perform. There’ll be even more of it on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday. 

In many Protestant churches, Holy Thursday is referred to as “Maundy Thursday” (“Maundy” from the Latin mandatum; Christ’s mandate to wash the feet of others.)

A long-time friend of mine once thought I was saying Monday-Thursday, so the name stuck. Subsequently, Good Friday is now Tuesday-Friday.

As a Christian, I just don’t respond much to the whole idea of a resurrection, though. The concept of Jesus coming back to life three days after the crucifixion just seems too far-fetched.  Gods and messiahs in ancient history always came back to life. A resurrection is almost a theological cliché. It’s much too easy.

Give me a god-figure who experienced pain, doubt and affliction like we do – Now, that is a god I can worship. That is a god I can embrace. That is a God for whom I’ll join a monastery and learn Latin.

My favorite philosopher, Simone Weil, once said that “If the gospel omitted all mention of Christ’s resurrection, faith would be easier for me.”

Provocative statements such as that are why she’s my favorite philosopher; that, and she’s freaking brilliant.  

So, the crucifixion, for me, is enough. The resurrection, superfluous.

I could stop after Tuesday-Friday.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


A consumer report survey of customers’ favorite and least favorite grocery stores was just published and the two grocery stores where I shop were on the top five and bottom five lists.
I wholly concur with the findings. 

Trader Joe’s was in the top five; actually, it was second from the top. I love my Trader Joe’s and I’m so fortunate to have one within walking distance. As a matter of fact, it’s a block from the church where I sing, so I hit TJ’s twice a week. 

The staff are ever so friendly. You can just tell that every employee is happy to be there and it shows. Also, there are plenty of staff on hand. If you find yourself searching for an item, a chirpy employee will magically appear to help. If check-out lines become the least bit crowded, a bell rings and several workers leap into place behind cash registers and beckon you into their queue. 

And the prices! Oh, you’ll love Trader Joe’s for the prices. Most of the items are their own brand, from the frozen foods to the wine, the prices are remarkably low. Frozen food entrees for $2.49 are common. Their wines are $2.99 a bottle and often score surprisingly high at wine tasting competitions. 

And there’s a whimsical side to Trader Joe’s that I enjoy. Italian food items will be under the name, “Trader Giotto’s”. Mexican will be “Trader Jose’s”. Their brand of Cheerios is “Joey-O’s”. Very cute, indeed. 

My Texan friends and family will soon have TJ’s opening up near them. Stores are already open in Dallas and Houston. One is opening in San Antonio very soon with plans for additional Texan stores to follow.

At the bottom of the survey is Jewel-Osco. I can vouch for that. 

When I need to go to a regular-type of grocery store, there’s a Jewel nearby. It’s crowded, messy, and their produce aisle is often picked clean. It’s not uncommon to find one lonely, bruised banana or just a few squished grapes available. Don’t bother looking for someone to assist. If you want something from the deli, be prepared to send up a flare in order to get their attention. When it’s time to check out, you may find a line so long that there are Cro-Magnons near the front of it.

As I write this, I have to laugh, though. 

Millions of people in Africa would be grateful for a meal of cold yam paste while typical Americans bang on their high chairs when we have to wait more than five minutes to pay for our bounty.

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