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 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.....

Saturday, November 05, 2016

chez pez pez

I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. This is #5.

What's up with the Chez Pez title of the blog you ask?

I live in the house of Pez. For real.

Like all collections it started with just a few. I had about ten of 'em lined up on the frame over the door.

My house is a one-story double - the other side is a mirror set up. Living room flows into the dining room to a hallway. To the right is the kitchen door, a few feet later the bathroom door, and the bedroom door at the end of the hallway.

That long hallway wall was just begging for something big.

Dad had just salvaged church pews and crown molding and lots of other wood from a church building that was being torn down to make way for the new College Ave Library. He cut two inches off of the top of the crown molding, flipped it, and screwed it to the top. Viola! The perfect display shelf for Pez.

We joked that I would never collect enough Pez to fill the ten foot shelf.

As you can see, "famous last words" is starting to be a theme with these memories.

I now have four shelves, the top two are 12 feet long and they're stuffed with Pez. And I have boxes more stored away.

I can't keep up with all of the new Pez dispensers. So many movies license with Pez now and it seems like there is a new batch out every week!

My favorites are the Bicentennial series from 1976.

My Batman - with a cape- won the first place ribbon at the Indiana State Fair this year. I love it when all of my favorite things collide!

Friday, November 04, 2016

don't look a gift horse in the mouth....

In honor of living in my house for 20 years, I'm sharing 20 memories. Here's #4. 

No photo for this memory, but it's probably just as well. 

As a housewarming/Christmas gift my parents purchased a washer and dryer for me. Even back in those days I was a shop local sort of person. 

There is a family owned appliance store on the East side of downtown where I found a nice new Maytag set. When I made the arrangements at the store they said that for $50 they would deliver, haul the old set away, and connect everything. When I mentioned that part to Dad he said to cancel that part, after all he had a truck. 

Classic "famous last words." 

Mom and Dad picked me up about an hour before the store closed and we wedged into the cab of the truck.  We had a make a stop at a drive through to grab food for someone that needed to eat before we went any farther. 

We arrived at the store about 15 minutes before they closed. Having worked in retail and food service I know how everyone is antsy to leave at that point. The staff was super nice and offered to help load the washer and dryer into the truck and directed Dad to the dock. Dad backed up the truck....into a car in parking lot.

It took time to sort all that out and exchange insurance information and such. By now it's 20 minutes past closing time. We get to the dock and the guy helping load asked if we had an appliance dolly. From the look on all of our faces, he quickly guessed the answer. He then asked what we were going to do with the old washer and dryer. More blank stares. 

At this point his attitude shifted from annoyance to sympathy. He offered to loan us the dolly. We could bring it back to the store when we were done. He would leave the padlock for the fence around the appliances waiting to be recycled unlocked, we could put the dolly and old washer and dryer there and snap the lock shut when we were done. 

Back at my house after much cussing and unsafe lifting practices Dad and I wrestled the old washer and dryer up the basement steps and tried to keep gravity from doing too much damage to us and the new appliances as we took them down the steps. 

So far so good. 

Until we went to hook them up. Apparently dryers don't come with a cord because it depends on how many amps and whether the the outlet is a three or four prong type. This I learned when I went to the hardware store. Luckily I'd stumbled into the right place. Hedlund Hardware has been around since 1935 and I'm sure this wasn't the first time someone had rushed in 10 minutes before they closed clutching the manual from a dryer close to tears. 

When the man asked me whether the plug was three or four prong the tears started for real. He sold me both connection kits and assured me I could bring the other one back. 

Back at home we got the dryer connected - victory! 

Time to connect the washer. The hoses and connection stuff at come with the washer. Water connections are standard, right? 

We had cut the hoses from the old set to detach the old washer from the water line, but had not unscrewed them from the water connection yet. We discovered that they were rusted and whatever else happens to make metal not budge from other metal. 

I should mention that it is now about 10:00 pm and the hardware store was closed and we were about six hours into this simple project.  

Dad asked where my pipe wrench was. Seriously? I had decent tool collection, but it didn't involve a pipe wrench. And none of my wrenches were the right size or sturdy enough. 

I voiced my "let's throw in the towel for tonight" opinion - which I'd been working up the nerve to say for the last four hours. 


Dad had seen the project this far and wasn't ready to give up. He insisted that I ask the neighbors if they had a pipe wrench we could borrow. 

It is now after 10:00 and dark and a weeknight. And I'd only lived in the house for four days and hadn't met any neighbors yet. 

Ever the dutiful daughter, I knocked on the neighbor's door to the north. No answer. Off to the neighbor to the south...not only did they answer the door, but they handed me a pipe wrench without question. 

By now the neighbor on the other side of the double was home and Aaron was kind enough to come and help and bring his tools.  It's amazing how having a non-family member involved help ease the tension. 

By 11:00 everything was connected and working and everyone was speaking to each other civilly. 

Done right? 

Except that we needed to return the dolly and drop off the old appliances.  

Back in the cab of the truck we went. The trip back to appliance store was much quieter. 

I have no idea how much the avoiding the $50 deliver/connect/haul away service cost us, but I'm guessing the deductible from the fender bender was much more that that.  

Follow up: Twenty years later the washer is still working perfectly. The dryer died about ten years ago and I've just gone without one. Between my Great-Aunt Theresa's drying rack and hanging things I don't need one. Plus I don't think I've recovered from the first dryer experience. 


Thursday, November 03, 2016

cooler now

In honor of living in my house for 20 years, I'm sharing 20 memories. Here's #3. 

I lived without air conditioning the first ten years at Chez Pez. I used to be pretty insufferable in my quest for fairness and justice. 

Why should I live like a queen when others are suffering? I'd never lived in a house with central air and I'd gotten by just fine. 

Living alone I feel like I'm in charge and want to be able to hear what is happening in the neighborhood and if someone is knocking on my door. 

A couple of things changed my attitude. My neighbor cut down the huge tree that shaded the back of the house, a breakup resulted in a free air conditioner, and I was getting older and crankier and tired of tossing and turning and getting dressed in front of the fridge. 

When I started cooling my bedroom I had crazy rules about when I could turn it on. July was soon enough right? Those days are over. I think I had it cranked up in May this year and I had it on a few days ago. 

I still worry about the not being able to hear. The first night I used the air conditioner a decade ago there was a fire across the street and I didn't hear a damn thing. I have learned to embrace the white noise of the fan.  I figure if the fire fighters need to get into my house they can use one of those axes they carry to break down the door. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


In honor of celebrating my 20th year in my house, I'm going to share 20 memories. Here's Day Two. 

This one is from November/December 2009.

There was a critter in my basement - probably for a month. I was wasn't home much around that time. I was out of town twice that month, for a total of eight days. It seemed like I was always working late at Second Helpings, I was freelancing a whole bunch for NUVO newsweekly, and working at the Red Key and Marigold, and writing the Broad Ripple Gazette column.

I'm telling you this mostly to justify how in the heck I could live with an unknown animal in the house.

I thought it was gone once, only to have it resurface. Plus I didn't want to trap something while I was gone and ask the kind neighbor feeding my cat to have to check the trap. Friendship has its limits. 

The adventure started the day that I got a new roof on my garage and my neighbor got a new roof on his house. You can imagine the pounding and noise and general disruption of the area. I unlocked my front door after work that day to find a mouse munching on chocolate that I'd brought back from Germany and my cat watching it happen. We all stared at each other for a few seconds and the mouse ran and the cat had a "who, me?" look on his face.

I set some traps and never saw the mouse again. But I did come home several days later to find a banana eaten THROUGH THE PEEL and and a box of strawberry PEZ flavored popcorn (purchased at a dollar store ten years ago - I can't imagine that it was even edible) shredded and open in the hallway. The war was on. Don't screw with the PEZ collection!

I should mention the cat was home the whole time. Fierce Felix was renamed to Pacifist Kitty.

I set a live trap in the basement with a spoonful of peanut butter for bait.


One evening while I was home I left the back door (that leads straight to the basement stairs) open in hopes of the critter running to its freedom. Several days passed by with no action or droppings or footprints to be found. I assumed it was gone.


Apparently it was still full from eating the mouse and the cat food and the PEZ and the banana.

All Hell broke loose while I was gone for a trip. The critter knocked over the cat food container, flipped the cat food bowl, chewed through several PEZ packages, opened cabinets, chewed through the clothes line in the basement, knocked over crates and pushed plastic storage containers off of shelves to get to the packages of PEZ.

I set the trap again. 

When I was at work the next day the critter got in to my purse on the sofa. And helped himself to a pack of chewing gum.

Did I mention that I had a cat? 

I got a bigger live trap. More peanut butter and I threw in some PEZ for good measure. 

I came home that evening to discover that mystery critter was a squirrel. And a pretty damn big one - too big to fit in the first trap. I was hoping for a bunny or badger or mongoose, not an ordinary squirrel. A not-so-happy squirrel it was. Felix was guarding the trap like he'd done all of the work.  

I tried to get a photo of the two of them together, but I was mostly interested in getting it out of the basement without the trap door flying open and the squirrel running up my dress.

I was pretty damn happy that night that I drive a truck. Squirrel rode in the back and we took a little ride to a nice cemetery by the White River full of trees and places to run - and most importantly, in another zip code. 

It was cold and rainy and dark by the time we got there. I marched towards the back of the cemetery to the river and then realized that I was standing in the dark and rain in a cemetery BY MYSELF!

I reached in to release the trap door and the crazy thing would not leave! I tipped the case up. No dice. The thing hung on for dear life. Luckily I had on a pair of sturdy work gloves (they didn't match and I had two left gloves, but they were thick). I had to stick my hand in the trap and pull on the squirrels behind. It finally ran out, around some gravestones and up a tree.

A nice Irish whiskey was in order when I got home. 

Thankfully (fingers crossed) there hasn't been another unwanted critter in the house since then.