Thursday, August 15, 2013

An afternoon with Cousin Shane

Oaken Bucket patioI was very pleased to get an email from Shane a couple of days ago asking if I wanted to get together for lunch Wednesday or Thursday. Turns out he had the week off and was doing a “staycation,” and I was happy to say, “Yes! How about Thursday?”

So I headed out around noon and met Shane at his and Matt’s place, and after he showed me around out back to see all their new plants and stuff (looking good, guys!), we hopped in Joan Jetta and motored up to Hensell’s Oaken Bucket. I’d link to it, but they don’t have a website...they really should get one. All the cool kids have one!

The Oaken Bucket is a well-known little local place. Nothing fancy, just a pub sort of atmosphere. We’ve been there several times, and Ken and I took his Mom there a while back, but I don’t think any of us had ever had a chance to sit out on the patio. Shane and I were happy to get a chance to do that, because it was a lovely day. The Bucket sits right on the St. Joseph River, so we had a pretty view and got to see a couple of kayakers go by. We realized there is another, lower level, that is just a few feet above the river, and there’s a neat little bar down there. I’d love to sit down there one of these days.

The Oaken Bucket has a reputation of having one of the best burgers in town, and although I haven’t sampled all the burgers in town, I’d have to say the Bucket's is my far! Even with ordering mine well done, know...E coli, they’re always juicy and flavorful. A generous size, too, and I could only eat half of mine, so sent the other half home for Matt if he wants it. Shane’s post about the “best burger in town” generated a bit of a discussion, and Shane and I agree that when discussing such things, chains are automatically left out of the equation. We only bring local places to the discussion table. Five Guys and BW3 have good burgers, but they aren’t unique to our area, and that’s what we’re the most interested in. (I also happen to think the Oaken Bucket’s burgers are better.) I know most newspapers don’t make that distinction, but that’s how it is in our universe!

Lustron House2After a good lunch and a pleasant chat, we were off, and Shane drove me by the only Lustron house he knows about in the area. You know, I don’t recall if I posted here about the Lustron service station near us that is going to be torn down because of the new highway, but I stopped and got pictures the other day. I’ll post them all here at some point. Lustron was an interesting late-’40s phenomenon: a home built entirely of steel panels. Even the interiors were steel. The link I’ve included here is a Lustron site, and the specific page is of Indiana Lustron homes. The first one seems to be the one we saw today. (If you click on “Home” on that site, you’ll find the main page and lots of great information about Lustron. Really unusual and fascinating mid-century modern homes!)

Lustron houseAs you can see from the photos I took compared to the ones from when the home was maintained, it has deteriorated greatly. It is for sale, but there are signs posted that it is contaminated with mold. From looking in the windows, it looks as though they modified the interior, putting up drywall, wood cabinets, and other modifications. You know, if you’d just stuck with the steel walls, previous owners, you probably wouldn’t have a mold problem! For the home to be rehabilitated, Shane and I speculated that they will have to completely gut the interior. I hope someone will see the value in this unusual home and decide to preserve it. Wouldn’t it be a great little home to furnish with MCM furniture and decor? I wish I could get a grant from somewhere to make it an art project...a living art installation of a Lustron MCM home! How cool would that be? I could rent it out for Notre Dame home football weekends, no problem. The kitschy design would be a big draw and....

Well, that’s not going to happen. I wish I could do something like that. If I ever win the lottery and blah blah blah. Fun to think about, though!

After bidding Shane a fond auf wiedersehen, it was back to Nutwood, where I got a few more things together for our upcoming Chicago weekend (we’re heading up tomorrow). Yay, Chicago! I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting on here over the weekend, but I’ll try to squeeze in a brief update or two. Firm plans are a Cubs-Cards game on Saturday (look for us behind third base, in about the fourth row...great seats!) and a visit to the Art Institute on Sunday. Hopeful plans are dinner and great music at Buddy Guy’s Friday night (if we can get in). After the game on Saturday, it will probably just be a casual sports bar in Wrigleyville for a bite and beverages. We’re going with my sister Diana and my brother-in-law Tom, and we’re looking forward to a good time. I went up with Tom and Di and my sister Sue last year for a Cubs game, but Ken and I realized that we have never been to a Cubs game together! We have been at Wrigley Field together, for the Springsteen show, but never for a game.

Like Harry Caray used to say, nothin’ beats fun at the ol’ ballpark, and I guarantee that we’re going to have fun in the Friendly Confines!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


WalorskiRemember back in the summer of 2009 when the teabaggers descended upon town hall meetings conducted by their local Congresscritters, and got all up in their grills about the Affordable Care Act? Ken and I went to one that our Congressman at the time Joe Donnelly (now one of Indiana’s Senators) held, and he handled himself pretty well. The place was packed, and although a few people got a little angry, it didn’t get too crazy.

Well, it’s that time of year again, the August recess, time for all the Congresscritters to come home and talk to their constituents, get an idea of what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling about things like health care reform, immigration reform, tax reform, whateverthefuck reform...whatever is on our minds, this is when they come back to put their finger on the pulse of their constituency and get an idea of how we all feel.

So my friend Dan and I are planning on attending one of the town halls held by our Congresscritter, Representative Jackie Walorski. We’ll probably both take notes, and I might even ask a question about why Congress has wasted about $50 million on 40 repeal votes, when it has no chance of going anywhere in the Senate, let alone President Obama agreeing to repeal the signature achievement of his Presidency. I think Dan and I will enjoy it, because we’re both really into politics, and maybe we can even have lunch afterwards, and....

Wait, what? What’s that you say? Representative Walorski has no town hall meetings scheduled? She’s not coming out to talk to us? Only “her staff” is going to be available at a couple of the offices for a brief time frame in order to hear from her constituents?

What’s up with that?

My guess would be that someone doesn’t want to face their constituents and have to answer to both the right and the left. The right because she’s being shifty on immigration issues, and the left because she’s...well, she is pretty much antithetical to everything we stand for.

Rep. Walorski was happy to get tea party support, but file this under “They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.” They sure loved harassing Rep. Donnelly about his health care vote, but Walorski and her teabaggin’ buddies run from any confrontation from the other side.

Isn’t that typical of a bully, though? Talk shit, and then when confronted with someone who is willing to fight back and not take their shit anymore, they run off with their tails between their legs like the cowardly curs they are. You see it all the time. It’s especially disgusting to see it in an elected official, though.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sometimes it pays to have attitude

I was listening to Green Day while working out today—shocking, I know!—and I was on the elliptical while the song “The Grouch” played. It made me laugh, because it’s such a misanthropic song, but I love its attitude.

I was a young boy that had big plans
Now I'm just another shitty old man
I don't have fun and I hate everything
The world owes me, so fuck you

Glory days don't mean shit to me
I drank a six pack of apathy
Life's a bitch and so am I
The world owes me, so fuck you

Wasted youth and a fistful of ideals
I had a young and optimistic point of view

I've decomposed, yet my gut's getting fat
Oh my god I'm turning out like my dad
I'm always rude I've got a bad attitude
The world owes me, so fuck you

The wife's a nag and the kid's fucking up
I don't have sex `cause I can't get it up
I'm just a grouch sitting on the couch
The world owes me, so fuck you

Glory days don't mean shit to me
I drank a six pack of apathy
Life's a bitch and so am I
The world owes me, so fuck you

I love the way Billie Joe sings the word “man.” It’s more like “mehhhn” and it’s pure snot-nosed punk sneer. I really don’t feel this way. I’m not all that cynical or grumpy; I’m not rude or apathetic; I can say with certitude that I love to have fun and I don’t hate everything; and I absolutely don’t feel like the world owes me! But I really do love the attitude of this song, and I can say that there are times when I have an attitude of my own.

I try not to let it get out of control, but I was thinking as I was ellipticalling that it does come in handy at times. What sprang immediately to mind is how Ken and I quite smoking several years ago. A friend of ours and his wife are working on quitting, and they seem to be through the worst of it. I’ve been trying to be a source of support, because I know how tough it is.

I can’t remember the exact date we quit, but it was in August, and I believe it was seven years ago! I have had no desire to ever start again, and I don’t miss it at all. I still have those weird, sporadic cravings once in a while, but they last a matter of seconds and then they’re gone. I don’t expect those ever to go away. (My Dad told me that even after 30 years or so after he quit, he’d still reach to his shirt pocket to pull out a cigarette!)

Attitude really helped me when I was quitting, because my thought process was something like, “Oh yeah? I’ll show you, Cigarettes. You aren’t the boss of me!” It was like the smokes were up in my face and I was getting right back in THEIR face, and even poking them in the chest. “Oh yeah? Yeah? You want a piece of me?” And I beat them. Beat them right into submission. Damn straight!

I hesitate to say that anyone who doesn’t quit smoking is weak, because I understand what a powerful addiction it is. I really loved to smoke. But I came to recognize that it was a psychological crutch for me, and once I figured out that I was stronger than that, it was a very empowering moment. I remember my Mom telling me, “Beth Anne, you’re a really strong-willed person. I can’t believe that you will let those cigarettes keep ruling your life.” She was absolutely right, and I know that her and Dad were really proud of us for quitting.

So to our friends, or anyone else out there who wants to quit, just get a little Billie Joe Armstrong attitude, and to paraphrase the Thunder Song in the movie “Ted”: “Fuck you smoking, you can suck my dick!”