Archive for the ‘Cheeses’ Category

At the Chicago History Museum gift shop I had purchased a Dover Press edition of Carl Sandberg’s book Chicago Poems (first published in 1916) and a unique souvenir shot glass with a metal medallion attached to one of its four squared sides. The woman behind the counter (beautiful, Nordic/Swedish, friendly) had begun to put them into a paper sack after carefully wrapping a generous layer of packing tissue around the glass, but I waved off the sack. “I’m a tree hugger,” I explained, and she graciously handed me the wrapped shot glass which I put into my front right jacket pocket, and the book which I had put into my inside left jacket pocket. I knew I’d be reading it on the train, and it was time to boogaloo back through Lincoln Park and onto Union Station. From my previous foray into the Windy City Wilds, I had learned to travel light and to return to the train station early. I didn’t want to be the 196th of 200 people boarding the southbound #305. The timing was perfect.  We arrived at 4:15 for the 5:15 departure, and there was an unexpected bonus.

En route to the bonus, a near panic as I entered the ground floor waiting area and stuck my hand inside my jacket to retrieve the ticket I had put into my shirt pocket. It was not there! I knew that’s where it would be, and the prospect of trying to board the train without it flashed before my eyes! I groped, guessing that if it hadn’t fallen out the bottom of my jacket, it might still be close to my shirt . . . . and I was right. I found it. Chances are that if I had n0t worn my vest to Chi’ from Spring’ that ticket would be blowing over the hinterland between the History Museum and Union Station. “CHEEses,” I thought to myself. “That was close!”

I arrived early in line at 4:20 with only eight or nine travelers standing or sitting on the floor. One was a late 20s fellow, sitting on the floor against a structural pillar, surrounded by about 8 pieces of luggage. He was in line for the southbound train that would depart from Gate C after mine. We talked briefly, and he asked if I’d watch his luggage for him while he went outside for a cigarette. “It’s been too long, man,” he said. “I’ve gotta have a smoke!” I wasn’t going anywhere, and I was happy to keep my place in line by his bags. He returned in about 20, a happier, satisfied man.

One thing about traveling with a guitar. I seem more inclined to talk with strangers, and strangers seem more inclined to talk with me. Hell, I could be James Taylor with a theatrical beard for a disguise. And any stranger could be an entertainment booking agent which I need badly.

About 4:45 a pubic address announcement advised all passengers planning to board the #305 who were under 18 and traveling alone and all passengers 62 or over to make a separate line at the entry portal. We would be the first to board the train. WONDERFUL!  GREAT IDEA! THANK YOU AMTRAK!          And so we did.
It was a breeze. This time I placed my bag and guitar in the overhead rack. At 4:50 I sat down in a window seat that would be fine for photography, even though it was getting too dark for any pictures. Ten minutes after I sat, the rest of the passengers came aboard. Again, every seat had been sold. The train began to move at precisely 5:15.

Among them were several disappointed Chicago Bears fans festooned with a variety of “officially authorized” NFL attire. From their long faces, it was obvious their team had lost to the Green Bay Packers. Passenger Dave was a Bears fan. He sat next to me for the next few hours.  We said all of 10 words to each other for the duration.

It was what he didn’t say to me that moved me. Early into the trip he closed his eyes and sat quietly. When a call came in on his cell, he explained to the caller he was on his way, the Bears had lost and that he couldn’t talk now; he’d call back. Not long after, a second call came. It was obviously the person he had cut short earlier. He called her Jodie.  Their 11-year marriage were coming to an end. In the course of the conversation, Dave told Jodie he considered the 11 years “wasted.” They had two kids who would stay with her. He would stay at their house until the new year for tax and accounting purposes, but he would move out in January. Several times he tried to make it clear to her that even though she had not explicitly told him she didn’t want him in her life, it was obvious to him, and he was making it clear to her it was over. He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t say it.  Conversation over. Twenty minutes later,  another phone call. One of the kids. No conversation about the coming separation. Soon after, another call from Jodie.  Dave was concerned that she would not be there at the station to pick him up. Was he going to have to take a cab? He wanted to know. I don’t know that she agreed to be waiting. It was unsettled when he ended the call.

On the way to Chi’ they announced we would accelerate to 110 miles per hour on a stretch of newly improved track. From my window, looking at the countryside, it felt like we were going 110 mph. On the return trip at about the same place, they announced that typically we would travel at 110, but not tonight. There had been an “equipment malfunction.” No problem. I was in no rush.

In the meantime, I was getting sleepy and began to worry about missing Springfield. I went to the dining car tor a can of Coke with a glass of ice and brought it back to my seat. It gave me some energy, and I knew I’d be fine.

When the train stopped at Bloomington, several passengers exited the train, and Dave moved to sit with a friend a few rows back. I now had two seats to myself, and just to experience the view from the aisle-side I moved one to the right and brought my overhead book bag down. Then I took a self portrait.
PP1216-27Until I had departed the train, the trip had been terrific. It went south when I discovered there was not a single taxi waiting outside the station. This was a first for me. I roamed the lot; found not one. I even asked a few people obviously waiting for a ride if they were waiting for a cab. Three polite shrugs and shaking heads and one “No, I’m waiting for my husband who is coming to pick me up.” (lucky man) I was told by station personnel that cabs often parked by the curb on Washington at the “designated (there was a sign) cab parking place.” There was no cab, but a fellow was standing there. I asked if he was waiting for a cab, and he said yes, he had called one. I am guessing he was a first time cab caller from our station because I knew cabbies park near the entrance to the station. At that instant, I saw a Yellow Cab arrive probably 200 feet from us, close to the station entrance. I said “I see a cab right now. He’s over there,” and began walking toward it. . . .

I knew I had not called it, so my first words were “May I share this ride?” The driver asked if I can called, I said I had not and pointed to the fellow walking toward us. “It’s up to him,” the driver said. After determining that the other fellow’s destination was on the direct route to my home and that he would get out first, I took a seat behind him.

The ride was a breeze. I walked the last half block from the nearest street corner to my home. I walked through my front door and glanced at my watch. 10:01 precisely.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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When I took the last sip of Carlo Rossi Burgundy in the duplex I was renting in about 1989, I had no inkling that I”d have that bottle with me in a duplex I owned 22 years later. It moved when I moved: from 326 S. MacArthur to 521 S. Glenwood to 1213 Interlacken to 428 W. Vine, and today it moved to my WELCOME Room office of AeroKnow Museum at the airport.a bottle of good cents

a bottle of good cents

It came to the airport  because the thought of someone breaking into my home and stealing this investment of time and memories was more than I wanted to live with. At best the burglar would have taken it. At worst, he or she would have dropped it to the floor from where it sat on my bedroom chest of drawers since 1997 and left me to filter the valued metal alloy from the shards of broken glass — pretty much what I’ve been doing recently, metaphorically speaking, as I approach the big SIX FIVE.

It came to the airport also because putting every penny I brought home from purchases here and there was not filling the bottle fast enough for me. I was determined that I would not go to a bank and exchange a $20 bill for the equivalent in pennies. That would be cheating.

At this time in the blog I concede there is nothing artistic about the process, I do not intend to write a poem or folksong about it, proclaim the name of Cheeses (when I talk to myself I call myself Cheeses as in CHEESES, that was stupid of me!), talk about restaurants, silver dollars,  Facebook, how much I love Chicago or Fort Monroe or Ft. Wayne, Indiana or Manitowoc, or the Shymansky family (my sister Dorothy’s side) Johnny Appleseed or Vachel Lindsay, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and yardcare. I’ve been ticking off these items on my categories list so I can suggest to readers this post is about them . . . . . and thus court additional readers who pay attention to blogs when these categories are mentioned. NOW . . . . . . . where was I?

the bottle and the barefoot boy with cheek of tan

Oh, yes, I remember. . . . The photograph of the boy behind the bottle is of the same boy ahead of it when the picture above was taken.  If I was three years old, the year was 1950. I will post more about the picture as I approach September 5. Suffice to say now that I show that picture to darn near every visitor to AeroKnow Museum. My goal, starting this morning, is to give visitors who don’t care to share heavy dough-re-mi with the museum will lighten their pockets of pennies. I want to fill this the bottle by my birthday.

There’s a nearby donation jar for those who care to be extra-nice with larger coins and folding money.

So if you find yourself of mind and spirit to see this bombastic enterprise in the weeks ahead, please bring pennies. The dollars . . . . almost . . . . won’t . . . . matter.

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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As I swallowed a heavy hit of burgundy and opened wide to begin dining on what would be my fifth peanut butter, margarine and Strawberry preserves sandwich of the day, I paused, just a little to reflect upon my good luck (the kindness of an omniscient creator if you prefer) that had probably saved my life ten minutes earlier.

Ten minutes earlier, I had been spitting spoiled rotisserie chicken from my mouth into the kitchen sink. I was drinking cold tap water, swirling it around in my mouth, determined not to swallow a drop and expectorating (spitting, if you like tractor pulls) it with the chicken, and feeling pretty durn dumb for having gone as far as putting the leftovers into the microwave to heat. 

It wasn’t the grocery store’s fault; it was mine. In a tolerable week I try to eat one rotisserie chicken over two meals, usually on two consecutive nights after coming home from AeroKnow Museum and usually after refrigerating the breasts remaining on the carcass after the first meal of freshly rotiss’d legs, thighs and wings.  I had shopped Saturday, had picked up said chicken — I’ll call him “Wilburrr” along with three small prepared salads which I fear may become more addicting than ice cream. I had purchased a seafood salad and a chef salad along with Wilburrr and a gallon of Carlo Rossi Burg’y. I drove home trim, sharp and happy that I KNEW there would be enough dressing for the salads and the wine would hold me until Thursday.

Also in the kitchen I had a loaf of Bunny Whole Wheat Bread that had been in the house untouched for a week, and the ingredients for some damn-tasty peanut butter sammiches. Thus have I described to total food content of my house last Saturday at 8 pm.

Part one of r was delicious, still warm from the grocery store heating lamps where they are displayed for easy pickup by Register #1.  Sunday, I had the seafood salad with all the Kraft Catalina dressing I wanted.  I was GOING to have the rest of Wilburrr Monday, but I was home hot and licking my wounds from another thorough “basting” at my employer. I ate the chef salad. Wilburrr’s two breasts, which I had left covered but unrefrigerated in the kitchen . . . . . well, I didn’t give it any though.  I simply wanted to leave the woeful regret of consciousness to embrace sleep, but only after nutrifying my body. I am nothing if not nutrified.

Tuesday I did something I seldom do: I took two peanut butter sandwiches to work with me and enjoyed them for lunch. I keep a jar of Jiff extra crunchy in my desk drawer at “emoplyeur incroiable” and most lunches there. I simply eat it from the jar on a butter knife I stole from a former housemate.  Getting the whole sandwich deal on a workday made me feel significantly self-affirmed. I enjoyed it. Some day I will do it again.

The day at work went to hell in a handbasket. I’ll spare you why. By the time I arrived home about 8 p from the airport museum I was ready for Wilburrr.

But Wilburrr was not ready for me.

In recent weeks . . . after DECADES of cutting rotisserie chicken meat from the bone after heating it, I’ve discovered it’s easier to separate it from the bons before I heat it and simply enjoy it without the necessary blade action during TV time in the livingroom. Last night, I approached Wilburrr, still under the clear plastic dome where he’d been sitting since Monday morning . . . . .

and almost coughed when the aroma from the spoiled chicken  hit me like a ton of tax returns. I picked up the plastic platter and sniffed closer. The gravy and droppings in the bottom, normally gelatin like and jiggly, were a brown and cloudy liquid, not unlike what I’d expect to find near the bottom of the Marianas Trench off Japan. And equally appetizing.

Even so, I’m not one to surrender without a fight. I pulled the meat off the bones, put them onto a real stoneware plate and put the mushy heap into the microwave for two minutes. I thought maybe the cooking would eliminate that horrible aroma. I removed Wilburrr’s remains and put a small piece into my mouth, hoping it would taste better than it smelled.

In less time than it takes to tell, I KNEW I was in deep unhappyland, and I began expectorating it into the sink, drinking water and swirling but NOT SWALLOWINGYOU STUPID AYDYIT! (talking to myself) . . . . and finally I was done.  I knew most of it would not reach my gastrointestinal track. And I know you don’t want to know this, but I will tell you anyway. During my “morning constitutional” before showering about 7 today, looking into what I was about to flush from a safe distance, there was undeniable evidence that some of Wilburrr had stayed with me. I won’t tell you how I knew, so don’t ask.

Since it was dinnertime, I made three peanut butter sammiches and enjoyed them with my friend Carlo Rossi. As I opened my mouth to begin savoring my fifth peanut butter sandwich of the day, I had a thought.

“Cheeses, (I call myself Cheeses a LOT lately) . . .  Cheeses, this would make a nifty story for my next Honey & Quinine.”

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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