Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sen. John McCain Makes Arlington Heights Mayoral Race Endorsement

Imagine my surprise today when I opened up my Chicago Tribune (online) during lunch, while I was attempting to eat, and discovered that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had endorsed a candidate in the upcoming Arlington Heights mayoral race.

If you imagine that I was unable to stomach my lunch, you'd be right.

You'll recall that I grew up in Arlington Heights. I lived there from 1974 through 1989 and then, again as an adult, from 2000 to 2011. That's 26 years. 26 of my almost 42 years of life have been spent in Arlington Heights. For the 11 years I lived there as an adult,  I worked and ran my business in Arlington Heights, and was a member of the Chamber of Commerce where I served on the Board of Directors for three years. Additionally, my mom still lives there, as do a number of my friends. I still have significant interests in the goings-on in Arlington Heights.

I'm not a fan of John McCain. Yes, he served his country nobly in Vietnam. He suffered horribly as a prisoner of war. He came home and decided to become a public servant. I don't deny that he has given the majority of his adult life in service of his country in one way or another. That is to be applauded.

The biggest thing that trips me up about John McCain is the legacy that I believe spoils the rest of what he's done in his career: Sarah Palin.

John McCain gave us Sarah Palin. John McCain's first presidential act as a candidate for the highest office in the land in 2008 was to select less than one-term governor of Alaska Sarah Palin as his running mate. He failed to vet her. Now I know, he relied on his staff to do that, but they failed to do it and the buck stops with him. Ultimately, it was his decision and he chose a woman who was horribly unqualified to hold the second highest office in the land and be a heartbeat away from running the country.

And now, John McCain wants to tell the people of Arlington Heights who to vote for on April 9th. He recommends a buddy of his who served as the mayor of an Arizona town from 2000 to 2006 and who has only lived in Arlington Heights since 2007.

Given John McCain's reputation for endorsing wholly unqualified candidates, I will tell my mom to vote for anyone but John McCain's buddy.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Perfect (Michigan) Summer

Spring is taking its sweet time to arrive in Chicago. Today, it's somewhere around 2 degrees. Oh, no, wait, my phone says it's 34. On March 23rd. Last year at this time it was close to 80. I had brunch in the Deerpath Inn Garden this weekend last year. But I digress.

Although Spring has yet to arrive, I'm already thinking about Summer. Specifically, I'm thinking about Watervale. Just under 5 months until I'm at Watervale and Lord willing, I'll be there sooner than that.

The 2013 Pure Michigan campaign kicked off this past week and each time I see one of their commercials, I'm immediately transported to my favorite place on earth. In fact, I don't even have to see the commercial. I just have to hear the music that opens nearly all the commercials and hear Tim Allen's voice and I'm there.

You'll appreciate my delight at discovering the 2013 Pure Michigan Summer Playlist on YouTube a few minutes ago. I squealed with happiness.

I love you, so here are my favorites:

Sand Dunes


Friday, March 22, 2013

Betsey and Ross: Their Absence Makes My Heart Grow Fonder

Betsey and Ross died one year ago today. Well, I guess technically it was tomorrow because it was the 23rd, but it was Friday, so I think of it as today.

I remember thinking I'd never get over that loss.

They never judged me. They never said I let them down, disappointed them, or didn't live up to their expectations. They were never embarrassed by me. Of course, they couldn't say any of those things. They were cats, after all. But I knew they didn't think them either.

All they wanted was to love me and to be loved by me. They didn't care if I didn't wear make-up or failed to shave my legs. They would snuggle with me anytime, any place. They loved snuggling up next to me when I was writing or reading and they always purred me to sleep at night. They helped me work and gave me regular weather reports from their perch in the window, where they also guarded the house from blowing leaves and other threats.

I'd never before felt the kind of unconditional love that pets give us.  I'd never felt that kind of unconditional love before, period.

I don't have kids and probably never will. Betsey and Ross were my kids.

The last words I said to each of them were, "Thank you for letting me be your mom."

A year later, I still miss Betsey and Ross. Don't misunderstand me, it's not as intense as it once was. Mostly, I just think of them fondly when I see their pictures. Once in awhile, though, something will happen that triggers some sadness.

A few weeks ago, for example, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a sound I hadn't heard in almost a year. Zoey was getting ready to throw up, just like Betsey used to do regularly. Of course, I couldn't stop Zoey from coughing up her hairball, but as I knelt on the floor cleaning up the mess at 2am, I was immediately taken back to the nightly clean-ups of Betsey throwing up and I started sobbing. That bottom of the gut uncontrollable sobbing. Sure, it was a little ridiculous, but I just couldn't stop. All I could think of was how much I missed Betsey.

I remember that afternoon in the vet's office like it was yesterday.

Betsey was first. I did not want to say good-bye to her, but her little body was just worn out. She could not digest or keep down any food and her quality of life was pretty low. I just held her and talked to her until she was gone, and even then, I didn't want to let go.

The vet took Betsey out of the room and while he was gone, I just cried and cried. I questioned whether I made the right decision and wished I could take it back.

Then he returned and I had another decision to make. I wasn't 100% sure I was strong enough to say good-bye to Ross at the same time I lost Betsey, but he was terribly sick too.

I took him out of his crate, still wavering about what to do, and that boy just about broke his neck looking for his sister. I could barely keep him in my arms. I looked around the room at Craig and at my vet hoping they would give me some guidance. Neither did. It was my decision alone. As Ross continued to hunt for Betsey, I knew what I had to do. If I took him home, he'd die of a broken heart, I had no doubt. I was certain he'd look for Betsey forever and his loneliness and stress would cause his already uncontrollable diabetes would get even worse.

Just like with Betsey, I held Ross and talked to him, through my tears, until he was gone. He held on longer than Betsey did, but it wasn't more than five minutes. Again, I didn't want to let go of my boy.

In the end, I walked out of the vet's office with two empty cat crates and sobbed all the way home. Luckily, I wasn't driving.

Today, my house is filled with the sounds and energy of growing kittens. It's a happy place, once again filled with the unconditional love of pets. We remember Betsey and Ross with lots of love, fondness for all the joy they brought to my life, and the life lessons they taught me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Given a Second Chance, I Still Screwed Up

As I've written about before, when I was 10, my house burned down. The Cliff Notes version of the story is that the fire started in the garage in the middle of the afternoon as my brother and I were coming home from school. My mom ran into the house and called the fire department. While she was doing that and against her explicit instructions, I ran into the house and grabbed my green stuffed rabbit.

Now to be sure, when we re-entered our home, the fire was still contained in the garage, but that's no excuse. Fire is unpredictable.

We all got out safely, but our entering the house the one thing you should never do. Not ever.  Let me repeat myself: Do not ever run into a burning building to retrieve anything. Well, anything except your child, parent, spouse, etc.

About an hour ago, while I was busy paying bills with The West Wing on in the background, I suddenly heard a very loud honking sound. Initially, I thought the noise was coming from the DVD, but then realized the sound was coming from the hallway of my condo building.

The noise was the fire alarm.

Still in my pj's at 2pm on Sunday, I changed clothes, put on shoes, tossed my laptop and all financial docs into my briefcase, grabbed my purse, winter coat and gloves, iPhone, and Bluetooth (plus chargers) and started to head out. Then I looked at Sammy and Zoey. I had to make a decision: attempt to get them into their crates and lug them and my other stuff down four flights of stairs or leave them here and hope the building wasn't really on fire.

I chose to leave them, but only because I was feeling confident I would see them shortly. The sprinklers weren't going off, so I figured the building wasn't on fire.

On my way out, I even stopped to lock my door. Because I was nervous, I fumbled with the keys.

It probably took me three to four minutes before I was ready to exit my condo.

This is where I failed.

If my building had been on fire, those three or four minutes could have been the difference between getting out and not.

All I needed to do was grab my purse, which was sitting on the table in front of me and get the heck out of my house in my pj's and flip flops.

Although the fire alarm was a false alarm, I learned a valuable lesson. I realized that I depend far too heavily on the fact that I have a corner unit and live immediately next door to a building exit. I have not planned for the possibility that I might not be able to leave the building through this exit. I'll create a plan tonight and then I'll practice it.

Always remember, when the fire alarm goes off, just get out. It's not the time to stop and pack bags. All the stuff is replaceable. And have a back-up exit plan. It could save your life.

Oh, by the way, I still have my green stuffed rabbit. He lives in the back of one of my dresser drawers. And yes, I thought about grabbing him too.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gratitude List March 10, 2013

What am I grateful for today? The list is long, but here are a few of my favorite things today.

I'm grateful I didn't have to wear a winter coat today. I anticipate I'll wear it again tomorrow and I was wearing a long sweater over a turtleneck sweater, but I was without a coat today.

I'm grateful that today's precipitation was rain and not snow. Mid-March in Chicago can be pretty iffy. I'm ready for Spring. That's not to say this was was difficult. It wasn't. In fact, it was another pretty mild winter. It was never brutally cold and I think it was mid-January before we saw our first inch of snow, but I love Spring.

I'm grateful the 2013 Ravinia schedule is out. And it's divine. I'll spend some time in the next week studying it and purchasing tickets for the best shows. It's going to be a great Summer.

I'm grateful for brunch with my friends Tim and Michael today. Tim and I worked on our 20th reunion planning. Yes, that's right. It's been 20 years since we graduated from Lake Forest College. What a 20 years it's been.

I'm grateful for dinner tomorrow with Tim and Michael. Thirty-three years later, we're going to once again learn the answer to the important question: Who Shot J.R.? As you probably know, Larry Hagman died earlier this year when midway through shooting the second season of the new Dallas. There's really no better way to kill J.R. Ewing. I think it's either Kristin or Kristin's daughter. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this.

I'm grateful for my friends who always check-in with me to make sure I'm okay. I'm also grateful they are so damn funny and keep me laughing.

I'm grateful for a clean house and two kittens who do everything in their mighty powers to ruin that for me.

After reading an article in the New York Times today about how people are letting their lives be controlled by their stuff, I'm grateful each day that I have a mortgage less than half of what I qualified for and that I never worry about being able to pay my bills because I live within my means.

I'm grateful that not only have we successfully sold Nana's house in Crystal Beach, but as of Friday, Dave and I also sold the lot she and my grandfather purchased many many years ago. We sold it to a man who is eager to build a home for him and his family. I wish them all the happiness in the world.

I'm grateful for my great insurance that allows me to sleep at night knowing that if I have any medical issues, they will be covered and I won't be bankrupted by them. I'm also grateful my thyroid disease is finally being treated and that the medicine to treat it has no side effects. Eventually, I'll feel better. So they tell me.

Although it made "springing forward" a bit more difficult today, I'm really grateful for the very long late night conversation I had last night with one of my best friends. I love the conversations we get into late at night, even when it means we're both dragging the next day.

As always, I'm grateful for my family. Yes, they're a bit crazy, but they're my family and (most days) I wouldn't trade them for anyone else's. Truthfully, I don't think my family is any crazier than anyone else's. Well, mostly. Still, I'm incredibly grateful for them and I love them a whole lot.