Thursday Things

1. I’ve decided, possibly but hopefully not too late in the year, to expand my gardening repertoire to things I can eat.

foodgarden

Behold! My vegetable and herb garden.

For reasons beyond my understanding, some time many years ago, a neighbor who moved on long before I came into the picture decided to fill an old-timey claw foot bathtub with dirt, put it in the courtyard, and plant inside of it. A rotation of building residents have used it over the years, and since its former users moved out, my future landlord granted me permission to use it this season after seeing my flower setup. (To alleviate any confusion here: I decided many months ago to move out of my current apartment, but instead of going the Craigslist route like I have in the past, this time I’ll be moving into an established apartment with a roommate I already know. Since I decided to move well before planting season began and knew exactly where I’d be moving, I figured it’d make the most sense to plant everything at my new apartment rather than plant at my current place and try to move everything a couple months later.)

The bathtub obviously has a lot more space than your standard container, and I’ve wanted to try my hand at growing things I can eat for quite some time, so I figured this was my golden opportunity. I’m starting small this year with one basil plant, one dill plant, one oregano plant, and one tomato plant. The herbs, obviously, came ready to eat, so I only have to try to not kill those to consider them a success. The tomato plant, on the other hand, is a total gamble. I have no idea what will happen, but if I can keep it alive and get at least one tomato out of it this year, I’ll be beyond proud of myself. (I bought an “early girl” tomato plant, which is supposed to produce fruit faster than standard tomato plants. Hopefully that’ll help me out in my quest to not fail at tomato gardening.)

2. At the Chicago Flower and Garden Show earlier this year, I picked up a few free packets of wildflower seeds. I planted them on the other side of the bathtub from the herbs/tomato a couple of weeks ago, and really didn’t expect anything to happen, since I’ve never had any success trying to get seeds to grow. But look what happened this time!

flowersprouts

I have sprouts! I have no idea which kind of flowers these may turn out to be, but they look distinctly different from the weeds that sprout in the tub on what seems like a daily basis, so I’m sure they’re from the seed packet. I’m so excited! I also have two packets of milkweed seeds I was going to plant, but upon further seed packet inspection, I saw that I’m only supposed to plant those seeds in early spring or late fall, so I’ll hold off on putting those into the ground until October or so, when I also plan to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs to hopefully have a lovely spring garden next year!

3. I crossed one more item of my Chicago Bucket List on Tuesday: eat at Pequod’s. Pequod’s consistently tops the list of the best place to get pizza in Chicago. I had never been, partially because the rumors of long waits intimidated me, and partially because Giordano’s has the best pizza in Chicago and yes, that is absolutely a hill I’m willing to die on, but on Tuesday I was in the neighborhood with several other people from my company for our annual volunteering day, and our group leader had decided we should go there for lunch. While I still maintain that Giordano’s is the best, I have to say, that caramelized cheese on the crust of Pequod’s pizza really was something else. I definitely see why people like it so much! It beats Lou Malnati’s by a mile, that’s for sure.

Have you ever had Pequod’s pizza?
What do I need to do to keep my tomato plant alive and thriving?

Thursday Things

1. I’ve officially lost all sense of shame.

tennisshoes

Sigh.

I really thought I had a good 20 or so years in me until I started wearing tennis shoes with skirts on my way to work, but clearly that’s not the case. I take a walk at lunch nearly every day, and last year I bought Superfeet flip flops for that specific purpose. While the flip flops are far and away the most supportive and foot-friendly flip flops I’ve ever worn, they’re also quite heavy, and I’ve noticed I have to walk much slower in them than I can walk in tennis shoes. The straps also rub against the tops of my feet, causing minor chafing (though maybe Body Glide would solve that problem?), so I’m loathe to wear them when I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking, like on work days. So now I’m That Person, sacrificing all attempts at style or fashion in the name of comfort and foot health. Though if I were the one making the fashion rules, practical footwear would be the only kind of footwear, so perhaps we can say I’m just adhering to my own style guidelines.

2. I have a gym membership dilemma, and I’m soliciting your opinions.

I am a person who, nine times out of ten, can only convince herself to go to the gym when it is so pathetically convenient, it might actually be more of a hassle to not go to the gym than to go to the gym. If the gym is out of my way at all, I’m not going. My current gym is on my way to just about anywhere and, for times when I don’t feel like taking the CTA, is also a short walk from my apartment.

Later this year, I’ll be moving, and my current gym will be on my way to literally nowhere. I also know that the monthly rate at my gym will increase substantially for me in a few months, which makes remaining a member of that gym fairly unappealing, despite the fact that I like my gym a lot.

I have two viable options for a new gym: joining the one in my office building, or joining one a couple of blocks from my office building.

The gym in my building is certainly the most economical option. It’s $35/month for employees of my company with no initiation fee, members have 24/7 access, and it would allow me to use the showers in the building on the extremely off chance that I someday decide I want to work out during lunch, or run to work instead of taking the CTA. However, despite members having access to the gym at any time, the gym is only staffed on weekdays. This is all well and good if I want to work out on a weekday, which I anticipate will happen with a fair amount of regularity after the Chicago Marathon. For the next four and a half months, though, the only time I expect to regularly need gym access is on a Sunday for cross training, because, believe it or not, I don’t have a stationary bike, an elliptical, or a full selection of strength training equipment in my apartment. The idea of likely being the only person in the gym makes me quite nervous. What if I get hurt? What if I have an emergency? What if there’s one other person in the gym, and that person is a creep?

The other gym is not quite as convenient as my office gym, given that it’s not, you know, an elevator ride away, but is a very short walk from the office. It’s also substantially more expensive, to the tune of nearly $90/month, plus an obscene initiation fee. It also has substantially more amenities than the gym in my office building from an equipment, class, and perks standpoint (unsurprisingly. I’d expect a real gym to offer its members a lot more than an office gym). It’s not open 24/7, but it’s nearly open that often and, of course, it’s staffed at all times.

With how often I expect to go to the gym for the rest of the summer, the gym in my office seems like the most logical choice. $90/month works outs to $22.50/visit if you assume I’m only going on Sundays, which is my current plan. That’s a lot more than the $8.75/visit it would be to use the gym in my office at the same frequency. The lack of staffing just makes me nervous :/ And I can’t exactly bring a buddy to my office gym, because that would require having an office buddy, which I most certainly do not have. I don’t even really have a team anymore (I was previously on a team of three people + one part-time remote person who lives in Florida. My two former coworkers both quit last month, completely independently of each other [one got poached; the other had been looking for months and got an offer one week to the day of the first one’s last day], so now I am, as I very much enjoy saying, “an island unto myself!” But at least my boss’s boss, who has now become my boss, has no intention of letting me go, and now I have things to do at work, which is a nice change of pace.), never mind friends. So if you have thoughts on the best course of action, here, I’m all ears.

3. Raise your hand if you watched the Tony Awards on Sunday! *raises hand and waves it about enthusiastically*

Circumstances beyond my control kept me from watching the entirety of the awards show, but I did watch a fair portion of it (and caught up on what I missed via YouTube the next day). I’ve always liked musical theater, but I feel like this past year was the first time I started really paying attention to what’s happening on Broadway rather than getting into shows long after they’ve blown up, gone on five different tours, been done by every other high school in America, etc. So, due to my newfound affinity for what’s happening on The Great White Way, I decided to watch the Tonys this year.

EXCELLENT LIFE DECISION. Man, what a cool awards show! While the Grammys have plenty of musical performances and the Emmys and Oscars show clips of the nominated work, I think the Tonys are really in a category of their own in terms of putting on a display of the art celebrated during the show. You can easily buy an album that got garnered a Grammy album (or stream it, or however you go about getting your music). You can easily watch a TV show or go to just about any movie that gets an Oscar nomination. But Broadway shows are totally different. You can buy or stream the soundtrack, usually, but seeing the original cast perform any of the show usually requires a trip to New York, which isn’t quite as easy as logging into Netflix. While we certainly don’t see shows in their entirety during the Tonys, we at least get to see part of it, which I think is SO COOL.

I knew Ben Platt was almost guaranteed to win Best Actor for his performance in Dear Evan Hansen, and I was really hoping the show would win Best Musical as well. When Lin-Manuel Miranda turned out to be the one to present Dear Evan Hansen with the award for Best Musical, it was like all of my Broadway interests collided 😀 I was a little bummed that the Dear Evan Hansen performance was Waving Through a Window, though. I really wanted them to do You Will be Found. My brother, who saw the show in New York in January, thought they might’ve done Words Fail, but I imagine that wasn’t on the table because a lot of makeup artists did a lot of hard work on Sunday afternoon to make everyone look pretty, and all that work would’ve been for naught had Ben Platt sung Words Fail. It’s Quiet Uptown from Hamilton doesn’t hold a candle to the emotional gut-punch that is Words Fail, in my opinion. It gets more heartbreaking every time I listen to it.

I also now, more than ever, desperately want to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway with the original cast. Ben Platt’s contract currently only goes until November, which doesn’t give me much time, plus tickets are MAD expensive, and not just on the secondary market (to the tune of $250+ mad expensive). I could literally get a round trip flight to New York for less than a ticket to Dear Evan Hansen would cost. But Ben Platt is such a genius…. I need to win the lottery.

Do you watch awards shows? I rarely do, but I could definitely see myself watching the Tonys more often in the future!
Which do you pick when you’re forced to choose: function or fashion? I am all aboard the function train. Give me comfort and practicality or give me…a reason to not have to be somewhere that requires me to wear uncomfortable or impractical clothes. Haha.

Thursday Things

1. Last Friday night was my last free Friday night until the Chicago Marathon is over (I’ll occasionally have long runs on Sundays, in which case I’ll have a free Friday, but those will be few and far between), so I celebrated with a Jack Johnson concert!

jackjohnson1

The concert took place at Northerly Island, and the forecast all week called for rain. Fortunately, by Thursday the meteorologists were calling for “considerable cloudiness,” and when Friday itself rolled around, it was just as nice as the rest of the week had been.

I did not do my due diligence and went into the concert fairly unprepared, which meant I mostly stood around and enjoyed the music rather than singing along at the top of my lungs. Jack Johnson’s music is so relaxing and chill, though, that I didn’t mind.

jackjohnson2

I did get particularly excited, though, when about halfway through the show, Jack Johnson announced that ANTHONY RIZZO was at the show *all of the heart-eyed emojis*. I don’t find it particularly easy to pick a favorite Cubs player, but if I had to pick-if I were buying a jersey, for example–I’d pick Rizzo. He got engaged the night before and was there to celebrate, according to the picture he posted on Twitter. I don’t particularly care why he was there. I just think it’s cool that we both chose to spend our Friday night the same way. #besties

2. If you are not like me and don’t have your Saturday mornings booked from now until early October, CrossTown Fitness has launched a new stand up paddle boarding class for the summer that I think sounds awesome. The class takes place at North Ave. Beach on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. (though check the online schedule for specifics, including cancellations) and includes 30 minutes of an HIIT workout on the beach followed by 30 minutes of SUP on Lake Michigan. It’s also free if you’re a CrossTown Fitness member, which, considering that your average SUP rental will cost you about $30 for an hour, is a pretty good deal, I’d say!

3. I did the coolest thing of my whole entire LIFE (up to this point) on Tuesday!

So, I’m a pretty big history nerd. I can spend hours upon hours reading historic information, browsing historic maps, looking at historic pictures. If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to travel through time between the past and the present invisibly. I don’t want to alter the course of history at all: I just want to see it with my own two eyes. I want to see what Chicago looked like before the fire. I want to see how the neighborhoods have changed. I want to see which buildings existed 100 years ago, what they housed, what their interiors looked like. I want to know what it was like walking down the sidewalks during the 1850s, the 1920s, the 1960s, and every time before June of 2012 when I moved here. This, clearly, is an impossible wish, but it doesn’t change the fact that I desperately want to know what it was like to be here long before I was here.

Because of that, whenever I have the opportunity to in any way engage with history, I jump on it. Tuesday was the 125th anniversary of the first elevated rail service in the city of Chicago (which, through mergers and consolidation, resulted in today’s CTA). To celebrate, the CTA brought out its Heritage Fleet: one, two-car 4000-series train built in 1923, and one 2400-series train, built in 1976, both of which took continuous trips around the Loop on Tuesday afternoon.

I’ll be honest: I really thought I was the only person who could possibly find riding a 94-year-old train around the Loop interesting, but I was quite wrong! The platform at Clark and Lake was PACKED when I got there, particularly by the entrance, so I kept walking down east down the platform, and by an incredible stroke of luck, managed to stop right where the front door of the first train car stopped once it arrived in the Loop. After letting a variety of important people off the train, I got on and went for a ride!

cta4000series-1

You guys. It was SO COOL. Look at all the differences!

Seats without indentations indicating where each person should sit, plus bars that only wrap around the corner of the seat, rather than over the back of the entire seat. Notice the open window as well: the windows on these trains can open from the bottom (which seems insanely dangerous?! How did kids not fall out of the windows?? There aren’t screens, and the windows go WAY lower then the ones on the current train models, landing around your waist rather than just under your shoulder.), because the trains in 1923, unsurprisingly, didn’t have air conditioning.

cta4000seriesinterior-1

Incandescent lighting, rather than fluorescent lighting.

cta4000seriesinterior-3

Wooden floors.

cta4000seriesinterior-4

A string that ran down the center of the car to hold for stability, rather than the poles that run from the ceiling to the tops of seats or hand straps that span the length of the car (there were hand straps at the front and back of the car, however).

cta4000seriesinterior-5

And, of course, a slew of historic CTA ads, not all of which were necessarily historically accurate to the the time of the train’s service (it stopped running in 1973, so obviously the ad for the new Red Line, debuting in 1993–which, side note, was not a new line in the sense that it didn’t exist before that, but rather was a new route with a new name, as the colored line names didn’t begun until 1993 [crazy, right? That’s only 24 years ago!]–was not on the train any time during its 50 year service, spanning 1923 to 1973), but were fascinating nevertheless.

cta4000seriesinterior-6

cta4000seriesinterior-2

The train was crowded, but it was SO worth it. Traveling the same way people nearly 100 years ago would’ve traveled absolutely made my day 😀

Have you ever ridden in a historic vehicle?
What was the last concert you saw?

Goals for 2017: May Check-In

One of these months, I’ll actually get this post up close to the end of the month, not at what feels like halfway through the next month. That month is clearly not this month, though, and now that I’ve used the word “month” way too many times for one paragraph, on to the check-in!

Goal #1: Publish at least one freelance piece
While I didn’t technically accomplish this goal as-written in May, by this time next month, I should be able to say that I have! It sort of feels like cheating, because I didn’t get this freelance assignment the way I expected to get it (pitching ideas to people I’d never met). Rather, an editor I already knew, who I had spoken to a few months ago and told in no uncertain terms that I was ready and able to write an article whenever she needed one, reached out to me at the end of May and asked if I could write a piece for her publication. I said yes in a heartbeat, of course, and I’ve been working on that ever since!

Having an actual assignment made it a little too easy for me to give myself permission to slack off with pitching, so that fell by the wayside as the month came to a close. I got a lot done during the start of the month, though! I followed up on a pitch I sent in April (no response) and sent out three other pitches, one of which got rejected immediately because the publication was already working on a piece almost identical to the one I pitched, the other two of which went ignored. I was surprisingly happy about the one that got rejected, though, because of why it got rejected. Even though I won’t get to write the article, it made me feel like I was on to something with my idea and gave me confidence that the idea would’ve been picked up if I had pitched it earlier. Plus, I’ve now pitched that editor twice, and though I’ve been rejected both times, I feel a little more confident – like she knows who I am and remembers my name, which will hopefully help me in the future if I can come up with an idea someone else hasn’t already pitched 😛

Goal #2: Get rid of at least 50 things
CRUSHED IT. I had already hit my 50 things target last month, but when I had free time over Memorial Day, I went on a purge binge (which I realize sounds like a contradiction) and got rid of so. much. stuff. I’m up to 173 items thrown away/recycled/donated at this point. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in this department, but I’m also flabbergasted by how much stuff I still have.

runningclothes

HOW. How have I donated all the running clothes I don’t like/wear and STILL have that much left over? Granted, I can’t wear all of these clothes at all times–I’m not going to wear tank tops in January, or pullovers in July–but I still think it’s ridiculous how many shirts I still have after getting rid of everything I didn’t want. I should probably work on getting less emotionally attached to some of these things if I ever hope to fit all my workout clothes in one place. And this, of course, is just clothes I’m talking about. This doesn’t even cover all the stuff, and how I spent hours cleaning my entire closet over Memorial Day weekend and, when I put everything that I decided to keep back in my closet, nothing looked different.

Goal #3: Finish Dutch on Duolingo
I’m not done, but I’m getting much closer! Only three more lessons to go! Duolingo recently introduced a new “health” feature this month that has become the bane of my Duolingoing experience. You start the day with five health points. Every time you make a mistake on a new lesson, you lose a health point. If you lose all five, Duolingo won’t let you continue without paying a ridiculous number of gems (in-app “money” you earn from finishing lessons or keeping up with your daily goal) or wait 24 hours (or so – it’s close to 24 hours, if not 24 exactly) for your health to refill. While I like that this keeps me from spending forever and ever on a new lesson, I think it’s really stupid that they punish you for not knowing translations they’ve never taught you. As far as I can tell, you don’t lose health points for making mistakes on lessons you’ve already completed, which I think would make WAY more sense. They should punish you for forgetting what you’ve learned, not punish you for not knowing something you’ve never learned *eye-roll emoji*

Goal #4: Stay healthy and out of PT
Well, aside from a nasty cold I had at the beginning of the month, I did a decent job of staying healthy 😛 In terms of how this goal breaks down:

– Strength train once per week, minimally, during running season: Well, I didn’t strength train once per week, but I did strength train more than once this month, which is at least more than I could say for April.
– Stretch after every run: Nope
– Foam roll after every run, even if that means with a Moji rather than a full-blown foam roller: Nope
– Do at least three PT exercises twice per week: Nope

So, here’s the thing with this goal. I haven’t been keeping close tabs on my exact post-run routine, and when I reflect on the month, I tend to remember the times I neglected stretching/foam rolling/PT rather than the times I followed through on this, and therefore assume I failed the entire month. To address that, and hopefully help me remember to do these things, I plan to implement what I’m calling “SPF” during marathon season: Stretching, P(t), Foam rolling. I hope to report on whether or not I SPF-ed during my weekly marathon training recaps, which will help me get a better idea of when I’m getting these things done and when I’m not. Knowing when I’m more likely to skip out on something will hopefully help me avoid that, and also avoid the fatalistic, woe is me, I suck at cross training mentality I’ve fallen into.

Thursday Things

1. I had absolutely zero plans or obligations for Memorial Day weekend, and it was great. I had a very ambitious to-do list going into the weekend that I thought I would never possibly get through, but I made it through everything! Well, I guess I left a small portion of my room uncleaned that I meant to clean, but it’s such a small area that I can easily tackle that in a couple minutes later on. I was worried about not getting through the big things (cleaning my closet, cleaning my dresser, getting ahead on blogging), but all of those things are finished, and I’m so pleased 🙂

2. Because cleaning is made one billion times better when it is both cleaning and a singalong, I listened to a fair amount of music over the weekend. Or at least, that was my intention. I did listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack, and my plan after that was to listen to the entire Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack. Instead, somehow–and I truly could not tell you how this happened–I stumbled across full episodes of Lizzie McGuire on YouTube, and, well…

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 1.08.16 PM

Oops.

I binged through six episodes of Lizzie McGuire over the weekend, and man, that show has stood up to the test of time! I really thought that, now that it’s been 13 years since the series finale (*insert sputtering about how I’m old here*), that I’d go back and watch it and be like, “Whoa. This is WAY worse than I remembered.” But it’s not! It’s still really good! A little corny, maybe, with the life lesson learned in each episode sort of thing, but the characters aren’t caricatures, some of the lines are still really funny, and overall I think it’s just a really quality TV show, even at 26!

Cleaning makes me nostalgic, because inevitably I find things I didn’t know I still had, so, as my recently watched list shows, I spent a fair amount of time pretending it was still the ’00s over Memorial Day. Nostalgia’s a weird emotion, that’s for sure. Listening to old songs and watching old TV shows made me want nothing more than to go back in time to 2003, but man, given the actual opportunity to be 13 years old again, I don’t think there’s enough money in the world to convince me to do that. Being a teenager was hardly a pleasant experience for me (is it for anyone? Other than maybe the most popular people in school?), and I have to say, overall I’ve substantially preferred my 20s to my teens. But man, give me some Miley Cyrus and all of a sudden I’m wishing I were in high school again.

On a somewhat related note, you may see that one of my recently viewed videos is Malibu. Guys. I’m am all aboard the Miley Cyrus post-crazy train. I love Malibu. I think it’s her best song yet, by far, and if the rest of her album turns out like Malibu, I can’t wait for it to come out. Also, apparently she re-recorded/updated The Climb for her new album? YES PLEASE. Man, that was my jam the summer after my freshman year of college.

(Oh, and I did eventually get around to listening my way through Dear Evan Hansen. By which I mean sobbing my way through. I swear, the more I listen to that soundtrack, the sadder and sadder it gets. I desperately want to see the show, but I don’t know how I could, since I’m sure I’d be crying pretty much the entire time.)

3. In my cleaning, I discovered my collection of orphaned socks under my dresser. I hang onto orphaned running socks when I first discover they’ve lost their partner just in case I missed the other sock somewhere in the laundry and it turns up the next time I wash my clothes. Needless to say, none of these guys’ companions ever reappeared. But can we discuss this for a second??

orphanedsocks

I have nearly every brand of running sock under the sun: Injinji, Feetures, Softsole, SwiftWicks, probably others as well. Why does my dryer god only accept Balegas as sacrifices?? This makes no sense to me at all. Granted, I probably have more Balegas than other brands of running socks in my collection, but every. single. time! My dryer doesn’t even eat my plain cotton white socks! Only Balegas! Clearly, it has very exclusive taste in socks.

Does your dryer eat socks?
What makes you nostalgic? This weekend, I learned that, in addition to music and TV shows, which I already knew made me nostalgic, certain items of clothing that I strongly associate with people or events and random memorabilia I’ve refused to throw away over the years also wield a lot of power over my emotions.

Detroit

A little more than a year ago, my dad emailed me to let me know that the Detroit Zoo had opened a new penguin habitat. The habitat looked amazing, and my dad suggested that some time when I was home, we should make a trip to Detroit to see the penguins. We almost went over Christmas, but the weather wasn’t ideal. One thing led to another, and eventually, my mom brought up the idea of coming home some time during the summer to go to the zoo and go to a Tigers game. I don’t know if May 20 counts as “summer,” but regardless, that’s when our Detroit adventure took place!

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is a state-of-the-art facility that’s home to more than 80 penguins, including gentoos, kings, rockhoppers, and macaronis. The habitat features a 326,000 gallon, 25 feet deep pool for the penguins with two above-ground viewing areas and one underground viewing area with an acrylic tunnel for us non-aquatic creatures to walk through while the penguins glide overhead.

The penguin habitat is immediately to your right upon entering the zoo, so naturally that was our first stop. I DIED.

detroitzoopenguins3

*squeals forever*

detroitzoopenguins2

We first encountered the rockhoppers, who were not feeling particularly active. It’s molting season for the rockhoppers, and when penguins are actively molting, they don’t swim or eat at all. Most of the rockhoppers we saw stood off to one corner, scratching and grooming as their old feathers fell out and their new feathers grew in. Coincidentally, when I went to the Shedd Aquarium in September, their penguins were molting, too, so clearly I have a thing for going to see penguins when they’re at their worst. Sorry, guys 😦

detroitzoopenguins1

The underground part of the exhibit was super cool. Obviously walking through the acrylic tunnel while the penguins swam around was awesome, but the technology they had down there was also incredible! They had these amazing projections that looked like they were in the water. Apparently these are called heads up displays, and they were developed by the auto industry (#detroit) for cars. It was really amazing, and I learned lots of interesting information, like the fact that gentoos can reach swimming speeds up to 22 miles per hour!

detroitzoopenguins4

The second side of the exhibit was probably my favorite. This seemed to be gentoo territory, and some of the gentoos were so social! They’d come right up to the windows and hang out.

detroitzoopenguins7

I waved hello to one and it didn’t get startled or run away, which basically made my entire day/month/life.

detroitzoopenguins6

We watched the penguins for a really long time. It was just SO adorable watching them waddle around! Sometimes they’d get in a line and parade around, sometimes the kings would try to pop out of the water and bite it on the edge instead, and sometimes the gentoos would come shooting out of the water into the air right in front of us! It was seriously so, so cool, and that exhibit alone made the entire trip worth it.

detroitzoopenguins5

Of course, we didn’t just see the penguins at the zoo. We stopped by a fair number of the other habitats, and saw everything from camels

detroitzoocamel

to an ostrich

detroitzooostrich

to a cuddle puddle of lemurs (!!)

detroitzoolemurs

to a gorilla

detroitzoogorilla

to a tree full of black crowned night herons (and their nests)

detroitzooblackcrownednightherons

to peacocks

detroitzoopeacock

to all sorts of pretty birdies in the aviary.

detroitzooaviary

detroitzooaviary2

We also saw the meanest goose of all time. Now, I have very little use for geese in general. I find them dirty and territorial and categorically mean. There aren’t many birds I don’t like, but I don’t like geese. Well. While watching the Chilean flamingos, we saw this creature stroll up:

detroitzooegyptiangoose

He seemed fairly innocuous, and we marveled over how interesting he looked. Then this started happening:

detroitzooegyptiangoosecanadagoose

O.O

He chased down the Canada geese first, and then spotted a mama mallard duck and her collection of ducklings, and chased them, too! At that point the zoo employee in the habitat at the time started yelling at the goose, and he backed off, but only because the mama duck and her ducklings had slipped into the neighboring habitat. We asked her what was going on, and she explained that the mean goose, who turned out to be an Egyptian goose, doesn’t like female non-Egyptian geese waterfowl in his space, so he chases them away.

After the zoo, we headed south to Detroit for a Tigers game!

justinverlander

I hadn’t been to Comerica Park since 2009 and haven’t followed the Tigers much since I moved to Illinois five years ago. Most of the people on the team were new to me, but I certainly remembered Justin Verlander (who happened to be pitching that day!), Miguel Cabrera, and Alex Avila. To top it all off, it was also alumni night at Comerica Park, and Ivan Rodriguez (aka Pudge) was there as well! We even saw him doing an interview before the game, which was super cool.

ivanpudgerodriguez

The Tigers had a fantastic game that included three back-to-back-to-back home runs in the FIRST inning, followed by another homer later in the game! They won 9-3, so it was definitely a fun baseball game, and a fun way to wrap up my month of nearly constant weekend traveling 🙂

Have you ever been to Detroit?

 

Thursday Things

1. Behold! My flowers!

flowers2017

My usual flower purchasing method has been, “Buy first, think later,” which has consistently proved to be a bad idea. I inevitably end up with more flowers than container space and have to make a trip to the hardware store to buy more flower pots. This year, in an attempt to avoid that problem, I took inventory of how many pots I had to start and brought that list with me when I bought my flowers so I could plan exactly which plants would go in which pot. This worked out well, but I was disappointed that Home Depot didn’t have the exact type of begonias I wanted – ones I had last year that grew like weeds with little effort on my part.

Everything was going just fine until I started planting, when I realized I bought topsoil, not container dirt, because apparently not all dirt is made equally (container dirt, according to my mom, is better at draining). I only had enough container dirt to fill two pots, so another trip to Home Depot was necessary. My initial flower shopping took place at one Home Depot, but my second trip brought me to a different Home Depot. This second Home Depot had the begonias I couldn’t find at the first Home Depot, and even though I knew I should resist, I couldn’t convince myself to resist, so I came home with two bags of dirt and four plants for which I had no space.

I thought I could wrangle everything into the 18 pots I already owned, but I was wrong, so last week I made my annual, “Oops! I bought too many flowers,” trip to the hardware store to buy more pots. Maybe next year I’ll have some self-control.

extraflowers

2. This year, I bought begonias in three varieties, lobelias, and fuchsias. I did not buy impatiens because I am sick and tired of them dying on me, so I didn’t even bother. I had a lot of success with begonias last year, so I’m hoping that happens again.

begonia2017

Lobelias are entirely new to me. I hadn’t heard of them before I bought them, so we’ll see what happens. I took too long getting them in the ground (well, the potted ground), and some of them looked pretty pathetic when I planted them. We’ll see what happens, I suppose, and now I know better than to assume that an overnight downpour is enough to keep flowers in little plugs hydrated for 48 hours.

lobelia

Fuchsias are also a new experiment for me. Some things I’ve read online said they prefer temperatures in the 80s or below, so I’m hoping that either turns out to not be the case or that the internet was wrong. Or that we have a summer where it never breaks 80. I’d be perfectly okay with that, too 😛 For now, though, they are definitely the stars of my show. I have a bunch of blossoms and blooms, and they seem to be thriving.

fuchsia

Any care and keeping tips related to lobelias or fuchsias are welcomed and encouraged 🙂

3. Finally, to keep the flower theme going: a story.

Due to the aforementioned overbuying and consequential need for additional flower pot purchasing, I didn’t have a chance to finish planting until this past Monday. After my run, I headed outside to plant my remaining flowers.  I thought the soil looked a bit dry and decided to water them, despite the promise of rain later that evening. So I filled up my (new!) watering can (twice the size of my old one, which means half as many trips back to the faucet to fill it up!), watered my freshly planted flowers, and then decided to water all my other flowers for good measure.

When I finished watering, I noticed plastic in one of my fuchsia pots. I assumed it was trash that had blown in and tried to pick it up. To my great surprise, it seemed stuck in the soil, so I tugged at it. I saw that this was not a piece of plastic, but rather a plastic bag, and discovered that the bag contained…something. I couldn’t tell immediately what it was, but, for whatever reason, my first assumption was drugs. I was OUTRAGED. Which neighbor that shares my backyard had the GALL to bury their DRUGS in my fuchsia?!?

I pulled some more, and saw that the substance in the bag was more of a light brown than a green or a white, like I would’ve presumed with drugs. Butterflies flitted about in my stomach as my apprehension grew. At last, I pulled the bag all the way out of the pot, and discovered…

A chocolate chip cookie.

o.O

So, the good news is, none of my neighbors seem to be drug addicts, squirreling away their stash in my flowers. The mystery still remains, though, over who on EARTH buried a chocolate chip cookie in a plastic bag in one of my fuchsias! I haven’t spoken with the squirrels who live in the garage recently, but right now, they’re my top suspects. It would (mostly) add up, after all: squirrels bury their food, chocolate chip cookies are food, there’s a nearby alley with dumpsters I know the squirrels pillage, since I’ve seen them there before, and the squirrels live right by my flowers. Why the squirrel would KEEP the chocolate chip cookie in a plastic bag (not a sealed plastic bag, mind you) is beyond me, but maybe they’re smarter than I give them credit for and expected the bag would keep the cookie from disintegrating.

I threw the cookie away and went about with my life. We got a lot of rain Tuesday night, so when I woke up Wednesday morning, I planned to check on my flowers and dump out their saucers if they had filled with water. To my HORROR, this scene greeted my eyes when I looked out the window:

brokenpot

MURDER!

Because this pot was near the back and had survived all of last week’s wind storms, I can only assume the squirrels are responsible for this travesty. I don’t know how they manage to navigate the rest of the setup without disturbing any of my flowers, since there isn’t much room to maneuver around there, and I also don’t understand why they have to bother MY flowers, rather than any of the various abandoned containers elsewhere in the backyard. But, since we clearly aren’t as good of friends as I presumed and my trust has been severely violated, I moved the pretty blue pot on the right of the picture away from the scene of the crime, because that was a Christmas present from my sister and no squirrel will take that away from me!

Do you garden?