I am conflicted.

I am not even a real sports or baseball fan but I am still conflicted.

I have lived in the city of Chicago for forty-one years and like so many people, I look on to see the joy of a city in love with its baseball teams. I felt even better since the team the north side supports is in a different league from the one I supported, in my own way, in my youth.

The Cubs deserve to win. The Cubs are beloved no matter how they perform, something in sharp contrast to what I experienced growing up in Cleveland where there were ups and downs and highs and lows in confidence. I love Cleveland as a native son, as a person who is appreciative of its strong culture, amazing music (The Cleveland Orchestra), its art, its geographical location, and its intense ethnicity.

As a kid, I got tons of tickets to baseball games to see the Cleveland Indians because I had straight A grades in high school. I must say that despite the fact that I am not a diehard baseball fan, I enjoyed them.

I moved to Chicago and the Cubs were the likely choice for my ‘baseball team,’ however one might take that.

Now the two teams are in direct conflict. I see this as Karma. Which one do I root for? I have to tell you, for some reason, it is really tough. I see reasons for both cities to need the win more than the other. In my estimate, it is pretty even in need. Cleveland, maligned as it often is, a victim of its own folly, is a great city with great people in a great location. Chicago is top-notch, but victimized by goats and fate and deserving of a win after so many years.

In the end, it is win/win, but I must say that this conflict is hard for me! I hoped that writing this down would help me choose, but I cannot. Go Cubs, go Indians!

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A button pusher? Moi?


I was in the car the other day and thought of my youth, driving in the car and punching the pre-set buttons of the radio. I did it all the time. If I was less than happy with a radio station, I would move to another one.

Old habits die hard, I still do it.

I am surprised that I still listen to the radio, but I do. I could easily plug in my phone and get at my music but I still enjoy pop music on FM radio. Is it nostalgia or just plain laziness?

I am still addicted to button pushing.

It made me wonder, am I an overall button pusher?

I think that I am, but my button pushing is totally dependent up with whom I happen to be. Unfortunately, MK has to deal with the most button pushing, although I think that I am actually pretty easy to get along with.

My pre-set radio buttons are currently set to some regular pop stations and then classic hit rock and roll. I have about four stations set up and then one for classical music. Although I love classical music, it is not my preferred music when I drive.
I think that, like in some other areas of my life, I am impatient. While I am driving, I guess that my impatience shows up in my music. I suppose that that is better than using it on other drivers. I guess that I am a controlled button pusher?

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A long day ending at the Winnetka Bookstall


It was one heck of a long day, that Monday.

I started out walking the dog and then coming home to evaluate my students’ online work on Lesson 15. I had breakfast and then cleaned up and went to Oakton, leaving about 10:30 or so.

I had ESL Conversation Hour from 11:00 AM to 12 and then I spent some time researching before going to my meeting, which lasted from 1:00 PM until 5:45. It was a long afternoon, to say the least.

I left around 6:00 PM, having not had time for lunch nor anything more than water. Okay, so there were some leftover cookies and coffee, but I was not in the mood for them.

Instead of heading home, I met MK in Winnetka. I had been alerted by Adrienne, my former colleague and good friend, that a French author was going to be in Winnetka. I am always anxious to read something in French and was hoping that besides the translated version of one of his books, that they might have French editions.

At first, I thought that a day as long as that would be ridiculous, especially since I didn’t manage to eat. Then I thought, when would I get to see a French author again?

We went, MK met me at the café adjoining the bookstore, got us some cheese, cracker, apples, and coffee, and we were good to go.

The meeting was in a room of the Winnetka Bookstall. It was an intimate group of fewer than thirty or so. We arrived just as Antoine walked in, we spoke to him a bit in French and then he went into another room to prepare. As it turns out, he was a bit jet lagged, having arrived on Sunday from France.

He was delightful as he told us of his books and his writing, mainly about ‘French Rhapsody,’ his latest book. We bought several of his books in English. As it turns out, he and the bookstore did not have any books in French, so when I came home I went online and purchased ‘Le Chapeau de Mitterand,’ which he spoke of several years ago at the Bookstall.

By nearly 8:30, we were home and settling in after a long day, one that was made even better by a piece of apple pie that MK had made earlier in the day.

• Ailleurs si j’y suis, 2007. (Le Passage) – Prix Drouot 2007
• Fume et tue, 2008. (Le Passage)
• Carrefour des nostalgies, 2009.(Le Passage)
• Le Chapeau de Mitterrand, 2012. (Flammarion) – Prix Relay 20121 – Prix Landerneau découverte 2012.
• La Femme au carnet rouge, 2014. (Flammarion)
• Rhapsodie française, 2016 (Flammarion)

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RIP Aunt Hilda, 1919-2016

Deerfield / IL / États-Unis - 10/16/16



Aunt Hilda loved flowers.

On Saturday, I got a phone call from my sister in Cleveland that our Aunt Hilda had passed away. Aunt Hilda had been living in Dunedin, Florida for some time; she and my Uncle (my mother’s brother) had chosen to move there in their retirement. My Uncle had passed away in 2009.

The two of them had always been exceedingly close, so close in fact that it seemed to interfere with their relationship with their adopted daughter, Babs. I don’t even know much other than what my aunt told me when I visited her in Florida, about what happened. My cousin still lives in Cleveland but pretty much disappeared from the family, not wanting to have anything to do with us for some reason that is unknown to us. I have reached out to her and one of her daughters more than once, without any success whatsoever.

I managed to visit my aunt twice while in Florida, the first time for business when I traveled for a post-retirement job and then with Mary Kay for a quick trip about two years ago. Both visits were wonderful, although the second one was a bit of a surprise to my aunt. It was hard to be in touch with her phone-wise, I would leave messages and not hear back. We dropped in on her and left a little memory photo book with photos of our family. At first she didn’t seem to remember us, but on our second visit to her the next day, she remembered everything as clear as a bell.

My aunt and uncle had a beautiful piece of property in Chardon, Ohio at one time, and our entire family would usually visit there at least once a year. It was always a memorable experience because it was like a step out of our milieu and since everything was so measured. There was the famous Borie Burger, a burger made that was huge and bloody, and something most of the family did not really like. There was Aunt Hilda’s rhubarb pie that was so sour we could not eat it, so much so that my Grandmother dumped hers into a bag under the picnic table.

As a young kid, I was very fearful about my mom dying. My dad died when I was seven and my mom informed my sister and me that if she passed, that we would go to my Aunt Hilda and Uncle Joe. They were viewed as quite the stern and difficult people at that time.

My aunt and uncle seemed to make a favorite out of me, though, since I was the only one in the family who went to college. My uncle (and godfather), however, was not at all impressed with my choice of the teaching profession and told me once that he didn’t understand how teachers said they worked so hard when they could just prepare their work and save it and reuse it.

My Aunt and Uncle had an experience when one of their successful friends was put in prison for embezzlement. He and his wife were my Aunt and Uncle’s constant companions until the legal difficulties. They really didn’t talk much about that. I think that it was very hard for them to accept this occurrence.

In older age, and Aunt Hilda was 97 when she died, Aunt Hilda was lucid and very with it and understanding of all situations. I was amazed how she really hadn’t mentally aged the way that so many of the elderly, that I knew, had.

When younger, she and my uncle had travelled a great deal, taking the afghan my grandmother had made and putting it in various photos as they travelled. When I mentioned to them, at one time, that they might come and visit in Chicago, my uncle made it very clear to me that there was very little reason to do so since there was really no draw. That stung a bit. My aunt was a good counterpart to that, always making me feel good, although in my youth she was like an austere dowager. She aged well.

Life had not been all that kind to her, I know that she and my uncle were victims of the RH factor in childbearing and had lost more than one child to it.

Even though neither my aunt nor uncle had gone to college, they were pretty well to do and very self-educated, so much that my erudite father-in-law, was amazed when I told him that they had not gone to college.

Within the family, Aunt Hilda and Uncle Joe were not always understood. They were very much together, so much so that in the end, they pretty much alienated their daughter and much of the rest of the family. In older age, my aunt, more than my uncle, had mellowed.

All in all, I would say that I really liked my Aunt Hilda, faults and all. In the end, she had always been supportive of me and made me feel very good about my family, my life, and my accomplishments, much more so than many of my other family members. I am sorry that she had moved so far away and had become so removed from the rest of the family here in the Midwest. I think we could have really been more of a comfort for her in her declining days. Rest in peace, Aunt Hilda.

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You really think that that is Garlic Bread?

Sorry, Back Yard Grill, Highland Park, this is not acceptable garlic bread.  In defense of the Back Yard Grill, this seems to be what all the local restaurants are doing.  Shame on you!

Sorry, Back Yard Grill, Highland Park, this is not acceptable garlic bread. In defense of the Back Yard Grill, this seems to be what all the local restaurants are doing. Shame on you!

Sometimes, blogging subjects must be very mundane, almost boring. If you don’t like to eat, however, you will find this excessively boring.

This is a subject that has been bothering me for years, but it has been one of those lingering, festering, not brought to the surface kind of annoyance.

My first acquaintance with garlic bread was in college. I have such fond memories of Grad School when we would go to the ‘Downstairs Bar’ in Athens, Ohio and have their Singapore Slings and munch on garlic bread. I must admit that the Singapore Slings were superior drinks, I even have the recipe thanks to my former college roommate, but the garlic bread was not the best. It sure tastes good in my memory, though.

In years since then, I have had excellent garlic bread. Anyone who knows the real thing, knows that it is best when it is a good slice of Italian bread that has a delicious surface of butter and garlic (the real deal, not just the powder), and is toasted in the oven. Stuff like that is habit forming and extremely appetizing.

It is easy enough to make, that is not my complaint, my issue is that restaurants in our area make something that is insulting to the consumer.

The Deerfield area has some wonderful restaurants and take out. For whatever reason, they often accompany Italian entrées with garlic bread. The other day, we went to the Back Yard Grill in Highland Park for a most enjoyable Cubs Deal, $19.02 for a full slab of ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, Cole slaw, a dozen wings, and their pièce de résistance, garlic bread. I have to be honest, it was a wonderful meal, but why do you destroy something like that with some sort of long, flat, thin roll that is compressed like a Panini to less than an inch in thickness. As with most of the garlic bread I have seen around here, it is decidedly moist, not crisp at all, and rubbery. Again, why would you destroy a dinner that is basically good by topping it with that?

My thought? Someone in our area should take to making just high quality garlic bread and Hungarian Lángos. I think they would make a killing!

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