Tuesday, December 31, 2019

surprise visitors and new year's resolutions

My 2019 resolutions included refinancing Chez Pez to a shorter term mortgage, getting back to my WW goal weight, firing up the blog again, keeping a houseplant alive, and making a will.

I seem to have discovered my green thumb and the plants are flourishing, as are the cuttings I've grown from them. The house is starting to look like it's occupied by a plant hoarder.

I signed my new mortgage (knocking almost 10 years off), just under the wire, on December 20. Last week, after a whiskey (mine not hers), I mentioned the will to the attorney that will make it happen, so that sort-of counts.

Getting back to my WW goal ain't gonna happen in the next two hours, so here we are, at the 11th hour, updating the blog.

I wouldn't be sharing any of this with you, if not for a visit from the Morrows and a promise to Cliff that I would update the blog before the year was over.

I'd been feeling a little blue this fall...nothing specific, just in a funk.

In October I was lucky enough to be invited to the twins 11th birthday celebration - visiting the haunted house at the Children's Museum. I was looking forward to it - hanging with Tammy and kiddos in costumes and I'd never been to the haunted house.

Even though we had timed tickets the line wrapped up a ramp and into a room and then another room. I was in a panic - I was clearly going to be late for work - did I bail or were we almost to the main event? Ultimately I stayed in line, but I was feeling the stress of being late but not wanting to ruin the party.

I wound up being an hour late to work. I'm not known for my timeliness, but this was an all time record. I hoped off the bus and raced into the front door of the Red Key making apologies as I went. As I was trotting towards the back of the tavern to hang up my jacket I whooshed by a table and and mumbled "hey Cliff." By the time I took two more steps it dawned on me....Cliff and Marilyn were sitting at the Red Key - and they live in Nebraska!

I hadn't seen them since Blogstock in 2008.

They were kind enough to route their vacation through Indianapolis on a Saturday night to visit me at the Red Key! I was gobsmacked at their generosity!

And I swear that I've been in a better mood ever since then. Their thoughtfulness in planning their trip to include a surprise visit flipped a switch in my brain. It has reminded me of the power of face-to-face visits and friendship.

I've been making an effort to have more visiting time recently and all visitors are welcome here...except maybe for the possum currently residing on my porch - that's a post for another time.

Big thanks to Cliff and Marilyn for coming to Indianapolis. I can't begin to tell you how much it meant to me.

Here's to a great 2020 and another resolution crossed off the list - with almost two hours to spare!


Friday, November 11, 2016

big chill

 I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. This is #11

Some people get geeked out over classic cars - I'm all about vintage appliances...and the things that go with them.This stove is what started my obsession. It is a Frigidaire made by General Motors. 

My kitchen is too narrow to get a good photograph of the behemoth. It has two ovens, a warming drawer, three burners, and a crockpot-like thingie. Everything works but the clock.
This beauty is the newest resident of Chez Pez. It's a 1949 Crosley Shelvador and I've only had it for about a month.

Do you know why it's called a "shelvador?" It has shelves in the door! Quite a revolution at the time. 

Before you all start in on the energy efficiency thing, refrigerators from this era were built when electricity was more precious so they were made to be as efficient as possible. They are smaller than modern ones and they don't have automatic defrost so they're not constantly running to keep up. 

I actually enjoy the defrosting process - and hanging laundry to dry and hand-washing my dishes. It is a chance to slow down and enjoy my cozy house.

This General Electric fridge was my first vintage refrigerator and we had seven good years together. After it gave up the ghost I thought I wanted something newer. 

I got this lovely turquoise refrigerator after that, but we never really bonded. It ran ALL of the time and never stayed at the right temperature - stupid defrost feature. It was perfect for craft beer root vegetables. Our relationship didn't last that long. I loved the way it looked, but it just wasn't practical worrying about food safety and all. 

Having the new /old has made me excited about eating healthy again and using my Pyrex refrigerator dishes.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. Here is #10...

I've spent a lot of time in the last 20 years not sleeping. 

At first it was because there was so much music to hear and books to read and people to meet. 

For eight of the years that I've lived at Chez Pez I worked in a coffeehouse and bakery. I would get there around 5:30 in the morning and work at the counter until noon-ish, do paperwork, ordering, banking, and scheduling for a few hours then go home for a nap or laundry or whatever.

On evenings that we had music I would go back to work around 6:00 pm and work until it was over. Most nights I was going out to see music after that. 

I used to joke that my life was a series of naps. 

And it was fine. I've never needed a lot of sleep. I was the kid reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was young. 

I was always a good sleeper - it never takes me too long to conk out and I can sleep just about anywhere. 

Then one night I just woke up. Wide awake. For no reason. 

It happened again and again and again, night after night after night. 

In those days, um, nights - I'm guessing it was about 15 years ago - I would get dressed and head out the door to walk through the neighborhood. In retrospect it wasn't the safest thing to do, but I was never worried. 

I had my little route, I'd zigzag through about a six block area always having in mind who's porch I'd run onto if I felt afraid. 

One early morning I as I was looking at posters in the window of LUNA music I saw a guy sitting on the bench on the corner. I sort of recognized him and we struck up a conversation. As it turned out his wife was part of my extended circle of friends. Tom and I had a nice chat at 3:00 AM. That's how all friendships start, right? 

Now I'm a little wiser about my middle of the night adventures. After reading this article I started embracing the idea of a "second sleep." I will get up and do dishes or read or make my lunch for the next day. I might get as far as my backyard, but no more wandering the neighborhood. 

Sleep tight, my friends. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

best job ever!

I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. Here is #9....

This ranks as the Number One Great Thing that has happened since I've lived in my house.

I became an aunt. 

Best gig ever. 

Before I held my sweet niece for the first time 16.5 years ago I seriously didn't know that I could love anyone that much. 

That same wave of love crashed over me when my nephew was born two and a half years later. 

The above photo was taken when the Cubs won the National League pennant in Chicago last month. How grown up they are! 

I worry that I don't spend enough time with them. No excuses - between my jobs and other obligations and their sports schedules and school and social lives and the fact that they don't need babysitting any more we need to work on time together. 

Which I'm pledging to do now. 

I could spend all night posting photographs of these smart, kind, amazing people....I'm also aware that they might not want a ton of pictures of their young selves for all of the world to see. 

I made myself hone it down to a few of my favorites....

Molly's First Communion - I'm lucky enough to be her godmother. 

Quick-draw John showing how it's done at the O-K Pez Corral. 

Monday, November 07, 2016

election day.

I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. Here is #8. 

I love Election Day! I always pick out a special voting outfit - this year it is a Statue of Liberty skirt, black top, boots, and my favorite accessory: the "I Like Everyone" pin. 

I know that I have voted in every single presidential and general election since I was eligible to vote. 

The first presidential election I voted in was in 1980 and I was a freshman at Purdue. I can't swear that the polling place was in my dorm, but it very may well have been. It went off road that year and voted for John Anderson. I liked Jimmy Carter okay, but he didn't seem too exciting and I couldn't wrap my head around Ronald Reagan. Why I found Anderson exciting I don't know. In my defense I was 19 years old. 

This year I even accessorized the house - red, white, and blue lights across the house and red, white, and blue paper lanterns on the porch. 

I try to make sure that I'm as well informed as I can be. I've never been a straight ticket voter, I do my best to vote for the person that I think can do the best job. 

In the last 20 years either the presidential elections have gotten more exciting or I'm paying better attention. 

Today was my fifth time voting in a national election since I've lived at Chez Pez. Toss in the national primaries and "off year" elections and primaries, I've voted in basement of the church down the street with the red door than I have anywhere else. 

The church is only five blocks away and I swear each time that I'm going to walk to vote. I've only managed to do that four times in the last 20 years. I'm usually cutting it too close to when I need to be on the road for work so I drive. 

This morning I arrived at 7:15 which was perfect timing. The long line from the 6:00 am folks was over and I breezed right in. The great thing about living in one place so long is that everyone knows your name. Don't worry - I still had to show my identification. 

Last week when Tammy asked if I could watch the twins on Election Night my knee-jerk reaction was "no way!" There were results to watch, whiskey to drink, and possibly champagne to pop. 

Then I realized that the company of two eight-year olds would be the best company for the evening. Not to get all sappy and stuff but I'm counting on that generation for a lot of things. 

Eight years ago I'd been to a watch party in the neighborhood where the hosts cleverly had maps and crayons so we could color in the states as they declared who won each state. By the way, I totally stole Kirsten's idea this year...anyway.....

2008's map
I met up with Tammy at the Red Key on my way home. She was coming back to the neighborhood after being with the twins at the NICU  As Tammy and I watched the returns on the slightly fuzzy television at the bar where talking politics is frowned upon she told me how excited she was that her kids would grow up in a time where having an African-American president was a reality. 

I wondered if we'd ever see a woman on the ballot in our lifetime. Tammy was confident that we would and she was right. 

2016 map. 

I brought maps and crayons and candy for the kids thinking we'd color in the states and watch the returns. Art, geography, math, and civics all with one page and two crayons. 

Exciting, right? 

I quickly realized I was out of touch with the eight year-old citizens of my district.  

I couldn't compete with Madeline and games. But that was okay. We did talk about the electoral college and who was winning and what the governor and senators do and such. 

As I type we're still not sure who will be the next president. I do know that no matter who wins, hearing the news with a stinky pair of little feet on my lap and a snoring kiddo attached to them gives me hope. 

p.s. - I said this four years ago and I still believe it. 


I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. Here is #7. 

I was chatting with my neighbor Kipp last night about recounting the memories of the last twenty years in the house. I was telling him that I was feeling sad thinking about friends and relatives that have died and disappointed in myself that I haven't done more to the house or in life or whatever. He pointed out that I'm "feeling all of the feels." 

Part of the issue is that I'm not an introspective person by nature. I seem to have a decent ability to keep moving along. I wake up each day in a good mood no matter how I was feeling when I went to bed (or cried myself to sleep or whatever the case may be). 

If you've ever taken the StrenghsFinder assessment you won't be surprised to learn that my #1 strength is Positivity. Being positive all of the time is mostly a great thing. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what might go wrong. 

Being constantly positive also has it drawbacks. I'm never sure when to let anything go, whether it be a relationship, job, lawn mower - I just know that I can make it right! It also means that I tend to remember the pleasant events more than the sad ones. 

Tonight, I'm going to share my memories of Matt Elliott. He's been in my mind a lot lately. His birthday and the five year anniversary of this death were last month. And his beloved Cubs won the World Series this week! 

I first meet Matt when we were both selling beer for a craft beer distributor twenty years ago. I soon realized that Matt was everywhere. At various times since we'd met, we'd played poker together, worked across the street from each other, sat next to each other at boxing matches, attended the same concers and tended for each other’s cats.

We took turns being across from each other at various counters and bars– sometimes me waiting on Matt, sometimes Matt waiting on me – sometimes both in the same day. Most fun were the times we were sitting on the same side of the bar. Those meetings typically weren’t planned, but you always knew that Matt was good for excellent conversation and that you were sure to have at least one belly laugh and leave with a bunch of random Indianatastic facts. If the conversation involved meat or chocolate or newspapers or books or beer, all the more better.

Matt was delightfully curmudgeonly. He was well-versed in the things that caught his fancy and opinionated in things that I didn't know you could have an opinion about. If he dug his heels in the ground, there was no budging him. I finally gave up in asking him to have decaf coffee brewed in the morning at the Newsstand CafĂ©. He didn’t let differing opinions get in the way of a good conversation or friendship. In the middle of a debate, he’d throw in a charming wink.

Matt was one of those ‘all in’ guys. He didn’t do anything halfway. We swapped cat feeding chores over the years. I would dutifully feed his cat, fetch the mail and turn on lights while he was out of town and hightail it out of his house to the next thing. 

Matt would camp out at my house while I was out of town; keeping my Felix company, enjoying sleeping on my ancient sofa, exploring my stacks of books, and the adventure of living a few blocks away for the week.

For years we worked across the street from each other at 52nd Street and College Avenue. Atlas Food Market was on the same corner. After the fixtures and contents of the Market were auctioned off, Matt realized that they hadn’t sold the wooden sign from the alley side of the building. Matt plotted rescuing the sign for months, but he felt the time was never quite right – which drove me nuts. Matt was deliberate and thoughtful about projects, a right–tool-for-the-right-job type of guy. I’m a dive in and pound-nails-in-the-wall-with-the-heels-of-my-cowboy-boots sort of woman. 

One evening, after yet another conversation about the sign, I excused myself, drove around the corner, parked next to the building, hopped in the back of my truck, and crowbar’ed the sign down. Ten minutes later I returned to report that the sign was ready to deliver to his house. It is now on the wall of Twenty Tap, across the street from where Atlas used to sit. 

Matt always dressed for the occasion, typically in a suit. This photo is from my 50th birthday party, Matt is in the middle, Chad Mills on the left and John Newton on the right - more great friends I've made since I moved into Chez Pez.

Matt was always among the last to leave my St. Valentine's Day parties. He was great at keeping the conversation going and people entertained. Throughout the years he helped push Tammy's Jeep out of the snow, hauled beer off my porch into the bathtub so it wouldn't freeze, and was all around helpful. 

Matt was a charming escort. And not just because he owned a tuxedo. I dragged him to various fancy fundraisers over the years and he could always make me feel comfortable. I tended to wig out over those events – and convince myself that I don’t belong and I’m not wearing the right dress – you get the picture. By the time Matt and I figured out who’s vehicle could actually hold a passenger (we’re both notorious messy car folks), who’s car was mechanically sound enough to get us downtown, and if we had enough cash to park the car and tip the bartender, I was a mess.   

My very favorite Matt memory comes from one of those nights. I was feeling especially tense. I’d already spent $300 on tickets, purchased a fancy dress, and was missing my Red Key shift so I wasn't making money. I was feeling particularly poor and out of place. 

There was wine on the tables, but I’m not a wine drinker – wine tends to make my face red and my mood morose – not something you want when you’re already feeling weird and out of place. Matt excused himself, walked to the bar across the street and sauntered back to the gala with a glass of my favorite whiskey. A man at the table remarked, “Wow, he must really love you.”

Matt really loved all of his friends and would go out of his way to make sure they were comfortable and had exactly what they needed. Except for decaf coffee, maybe.

I did love and admire Matt. After spending time with him my heart always felt full -- from the gratitude of living in a community that allows you to meet folks like Matt, and the joy of making strong grown-up friendships.  

You are missed my friend. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

snow daze

I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. This is #6.

While there have been many snow storms in the 20 years I've lived at Chez Pez, January 2014 was extra memorable. While snow had been predicted, the ice was what brought the city to a halt. Power lines and trees snapped under the weight. 

It was so icy that I had to use Uncle Cletus's potato fork as a walking stick. 

Luckily my side of the street only lost power for about eight hours - not enough time to freeze any pipes or do any serious damage. Unfortunately for the other side of the street didn't have any electricity for two days. 

The temperature was below zero and I felt terrible for the folks on the west side. I let everyone know that my house was open for cell phone charging, hand warming, coffee drinking, bathroom using, and even sleeping. 

That first day I heard a huge crash. A tree had fallen my neighbor to the north's house and sheared off the power box to this house. 

As you can imagine, he was gobsmacked and discombobulated. I called the power company for him and they said that the box would need to be repaired before they could come out and with whole chunks of the city out of electricity fixing one household was way down on their priority list. 

I talked him though calling his insurance agent who called a repair man to fix the box - in a day or two. 

I gathered all of my extension cords, plugged them in to a basement outlet, snaked them through the dryer outlet and stretched them to the neighbor's house in an effort to keep his pipes from freezing. 

I invited the neighbor...I was fairly confident that his first name was Al, but had no idea of his last....to sleep on my sofa. He doesn't have any immediate family and his closest relatives lived out of state. 

He was a thoughtful guest, but I think he was a little bored. I don't have a television in the living room and I wasn't comfortable inviting him to watch a show in my bedroom. He didn't seem to be a reader and we weren't coming up with any conversation topics that seemed to take. 

On the second night I introduced him to Netflix on my laptop. He was thrilled to watch Westerns and I could retreat to my room with out feeling too guilty. 

On the fifth day, finally, Al got his power restored. 

I'm still not sure of his last name.....