Lazy Summer Days

Lily from my garden

What a lovely weekend it has been. I have really been enjoying watching my small shabby garden that I planted last year start to pop up again. Let me tell you something about this garden. I was truly shocked that anything grew there in the first place, let alone grow again the next year. It is planted in a small corner of the yard; a yard that opens up to the alley and is more gravel than dirt. In a pathetic attempt to make this horrid space look pretty, I threw down a couple bags of soil and threw some wildflower seeds on top of that. The soil I had gotten for free from a classified ad and there seemed to have been some bulbs mixed in with it. I didn’t expect them to do anything, but I have seen some flowers which I definitely didn’t plant.

Park in the Loop

I also planted sunflowers last year, and boy did those grow! I wish I had taken pictures of them, but alas, I am not one to remember to photograph things. I have been trying really hard to remember to take pictures these days. They grew to be taller than me, which means they were probably a good 6 feet or so. I have seen the beginning of them sprout up again, but they are pretty slow it seems right now. This is the first garden I have ever planted myself, although I have kept lots of potted plants inside, with various results. For awhile I had a monstrous aloe plant that kept outgrowing every pot I put it in. We decided to take the dog for a walk downtown since it was such a nice day outside and the gardens there were in full bloom as well.

Awesome!

The second part of my weekend was seeing one of my favorite bands play in Milwaukee. We got free tickets to an Against Me! show while standing in line for the last concert we went to. This is not the first time I’ve crossed state lines for a concert, and it probably won’t be the last. Driving 2 hours for a show can get a bit daunting, but it was totally worth it this time. The venue was much smaller than anything in Chicago, and so we could see everything up close. The band was super happy to be there and the lead singer could not stop smiling the whole time, it was awesome! The venue also lacked any bouncers near the stage and as a consequence several guys were leaping up on the stage towards the end and singing with them.

I love you Tommy Gabel

Tagged!

Bike rack bomb

Last night my friend Steffe and I yarn bombed some things at IIT. If you don’t know about yarn bombing, you should check out a couple of blogs who have dedicated themselves to yarn bombing like http://yarnbombing.com/ or http://streetcolor.wordpress.com/ . There are a lot of really cool projects on those sites. Basically, it is knitters and crocheters making art graffiti out of yarn. It is gaining a lot of popularity and last week was International Yarn Bombing Day or it’s also been called Knit in Public Day.

Keep off the grass bomb

There is a lot of talk about yarn bombing, which is one of the reasons why I really like it. Almost everyone has an opinion about it. I was crocheting this piece at Steffe’s house and some of our other friends were there with us too. One guy thought yarn bombing was a waste of yarn and told me and Steffe we should just make him scarves and gloves instead. He asked where we were going to be putting our art and how we were fastening it. We both will be watching out for him wearing our yarn bombs if they disappear! We thought it would be funny if we tagged at night, like real graffiti. We are pretty sure that no one would mind if we did it during the day, but being mysterious and anonymous is fun sometimes.

Piles of scarp yarn

We are not the first ones on our campus to do yarn bombing. Another student last year started some small projects; a bike rack, a light post, and a big boulder outside of the architecture building have all been tagged already. It’s such a fun thing to look at when you are walking around campus, and I think most people like it too because none of the installations have been taken down. It adds color and creativity to a campus that is pretty void of all of that. IIT is a tech school with a lot of bright students, but apart from the architecture department, the campus looks pretty darn ugly. Let’s change that! Any other thoughts on yarn bombing? Feel free to leave a comment!

Zoe laying in our yarn. This project I don't have to try to keep hair free!

Biking!

The past week has been packed with crazy summer activity! The weather has been in the 90s one day then drops 40 degrees in one night and now we’re all freezing. I’ve been getting in lots of biking though, which has made me very happy. My dad came up for a bike ride last weekend because he likes to bike on the lakefront train every so often. I get spoiled on the lakefront trail because I find myself on it at least two or three times a week these days. I love how diverse the trail can be depending on the weather. On rainy days or even just dreary, cloudy days it can feel like we have the whole lake front to ourselves. To just watch the dark lake wash violent waves up against all the boats in the harbor. But on this particular day it was hot and sunny, and also a weekend, which means lots of traffic because every Chicagoan knows to take advantage of nice weather while it lasts.

Skyline from Navy Pier

My favorite part of the lakefront trail is near the south loop, right next to the McCormick Place. The scenery is so nice and the pace can be as fast or as slow as you want. There aren’t lots of families going to the beach and standing around on the trail like there are on the north side. The trail can get downright dangerous on warm days when kids and tourists aren’t paying attention. They don’t realize that the lakefront trail means serious business to some people, and if you’re not careful, a spandex-clad sweat-storm on two wheels just might fly by and ruin your day.

Biking has become a very integral part of my life now; it is a hobby on nice summer days, and my best form of transportation on every other day. I can’t remember ever not knowing how to ride a bike. As a kid, I always had a bike and my sister and I would ride up and down our long driveway in the summer on roads we had drawn with sidewalk chalk. We used to take “family bike rides” every so often because there was a trail not too far from our house. Our typical path would be to bike to the Creamery in the next town over and we would get to eat a sundae before the bike back. Those rides were one of my favorite things when I look back at summer as a kid. But that was when I was maybe ten or eleven. Somewhere around the age of thirteen going to get ice cream with your parents wasn’t cool anymore and the thought of being seen on a bike was absolutely mortifying. I don’t think I rode a bike again until college.

College made biking not only cool again, but in the city, it’s almost imperative. Biking is the perfect mode of transportation for us fine college folk who are too poor to pay for gas and insurance. Plus when you bike, you can go to as many college parties as you like and not have to worry about a designated driver or parallel parking. I commute to school every day on my bike now, and in the summer I go all around the city too. I love the freedom of being able to maneuver so easily through traffic and “parking” three feet outside of every door I want to enter.

My Olympic Sport, recently new to me

I feel like bikers share a unique bond because we all have to deal with the wrath of angry drivers who are constantly honking and very nearly running us over sometimes. So cheers urban bikers! Because you are part of keeping yourself and your planet a little bit healthier! Anyone else have some urban bike adventures they would like to share?

City of Lights

“Solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches. Yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth. Man struggles to find life outside himself, unaware that the life he is seeking is within him. Nature reaches out to us with welcome arms, and bids us enjoy her beauty; but we dread her silence and rush into the crowded cities, there to huddle like sheep fleeing from a ferocious wolf.” -Kahlil Gibran

Let me start by saying I am one of the few lucky people to have spent time living in both a busy city and a vast wilderness. I have returned home to Chicago a month ago from traveling to the Patagonia region of South America which is located in Argentina. My experiences there were wild and unlike anything I have ever seen. No doubt I will reference them from time to time. During my last night there I slept on a beach beneath the stars. Now, I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and while I was growing up, I always thought I had a pretty clear view of the sky. This particular suburb was more towards the rural end, and so on a summer night it got to be a respectable level of darkness. I gazed up at the sky every now and then and can remember thinking that summer stars were pretty. But if you live in a city, or even near a city the night sky does not reveal to you what it did to me that night in Argentina.

What I saw was absolutely astounding. I didn’t want to go to sleep because it would be taking away my time of looking at that gorgeous night sky. And some time during the middle of the night it dawned on me how unfortunate it was that the most beautiful things this earth has to offer are things that so few people get a chance to see. Why is that? Is it because we have all forgotten it is there? Would we really rather look at pretty pictures of nature on our iPads than go out and see it for ourselves? I wondered this for awhile and before I fell asleep I vowed to myself to never forget what is out there waiting for us.