Monday, July 30, 2007

Update: On De-Fence

Sorry about the delay in posting on this blog, I've been busy supervising the installation of the guard rail. Here is the latest picture of the on going yard improvement.

The guy doing the job will be back on Tuesday to fill the post holes. He had to wait a couple of days while the concrete cured. Jan and I decided not to paint the guard rail. We figured the paint would wear off quickly and would look worse if we did paint it. After all, it is a guard rail for cryin' out loud.

The grass in the yard is a complete disaster at this point. It has become dormant because of the drought we've had this summer. We plan on landscaping the yard after we get the entire fence installed.

I'll keep you all posted on the progress of this project. The next step is the fence installation inside the guard rail.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


This year marks the 30th year that Jan and I have lived in our home on Campbell Street. We have had many changes to our home over all these years. We added vinyl siding, replaced the roof, installed new windows, and replaced several hot water heaters. We also poured a concrete driveway so four vehicles can park next to the house due to very little street parking. One improvement we have put off all these years is the chain link fence that surrounds 75% of our yard. The fence has taken a beating over the past 30 years. It is rusted, the bottom of the fence is curling up and the posts are barely standing. In other words, if the fence was a person it would be on life support. Jan and I have decided to pull the plug and put the fence out of its misery. We came up with a plan that will require 3 phases.

The first phase is the removal of the present fence and bushes along the fence. The next part of phase 1 is installing some 88 feet of guard rail attached to H-beams. This is an expensive but necessary step to protect the vinyl privacy fence that will be installed in Phase 2. You see, our fence is along an alley. Many people have garages down the alley and sometimes garbage trucks use it to pick up trash. The current fence has been beaten, battered, and run into by vehicles many, many times. We figure the best DEFENSE is to install the guardrail and damage people's vehicles rather than our fence. We've had it and can't take it any longer.

Okay, enough of my rant--on to Phase 2. Phase 2 consists of erecting a 6 foot vinyl privacy fence inside the guardrail. I called the City Zoning Board and told them that our house was located on an alley. They told me that if the alley is BEHIND the house that a 6 foot fence is okay, but if the alley is on the SIDE of the house the maximum allowable height is 4 foot. Yeah, right, whatever. Somehow we will get our way on this one. Stay tuned.
The 3rd and final phase is the removal of the rear and south side fence, and installation of the privacy in these areas. In addition, the front fence and gate will also be erected at the front of the driveway.
Both Jan and I are anxious to get this project started (and completed). The enclosed yard will provide a secure area for our dog Sloopy and grandchildren to play for many years to come.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Kind of Town-Chicago Is

We took a mini vacation to Chicago last week and had a wonderful time. This is the third time we have visited Chicago. Our tour guides, Justin and Cassie, put together another terrific tour package for Jan and I. For sure, there is never a shortage of things to do in Chicago. The "Taste of Chicago" food festival was in full swing when we arrived on the 4th of July. The ten day event has been going on annually for the past 28 years. I know this because someone was wearing a tee shirt proclaiming this information. Foods from many of the Chicago area restaurants were represented, serving everything imaginable. When you enter the mile long festival you purchase tickets which you can use at any of the food booths. You get 11 tickets for $7.00. Most of the food cost between 5-8 tickets. You could get a sample of the food item for half of what a full portion cost. This is good if you want to try a taste of say Cajun fried catfish. Justin and Cassie were trying quite a few exotic items. Jan and I on the other hand ate food that we were more familiar with. It was easy to go through a strip of tickets in a heartbeat. We realized that visiting the festival was not an inexpensive experience, but in a big city I guess you expect to pay more for fun. There were stages set up for musical acts that played during the festival. John Mayer did a show as well as Los Lonely Boys to name a couple of the acts.

The weather was perfect. Temperatures in the low 80's and no rain. We were able to walk to most of the places around the downtown Chicago area. By the end of the day our feet and legs throbbed, but it helped us burn the extra calories we consumed during our stay.

We did find a Coffee Beanery in the downtown area. Jan was able to get her "White chocolate mocha skinny" which made her happy. It seems that Starbucks is located on every corner. We made the mistake of stopping there once on the trip. Starbucks coffee tastes nasty compared to the Beanery.

Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. There was a special display featuring the television show CSI. Participants were invited to "solve" one of three crime scenes. The crime scenes and CSI labs were very realistic. We were able to solve the case. It was educational and also entertaining.

We ate at Portello's Restaurant. Their specialty are Chicago style hot dogs. Yumm!! The hot dogs are Vienna Beef, served on a sesame seed bun, with celery powder, pickle, tomato and peppercini.

We walked to the Navy Pier on the 4th of July evening for a fireworks display. It was a good show, but not very long. Apparently we missed a better show on July 3rd.

We ate at Baba Reeba's, a Spanish style restaurant, that serves tapas.

Justin, Cassie and Jan drank a few pitchers of Sangria. Since I was the only sober one, I was nominated to drive Justin's car back to the hotel. Thank God it was later in the evening so traffic wasn't quite so bad.

We also ate a Chicago style deep dish pizza at a downtown sidewalk restaurant. It was very good and also relaxing. The downtown area is very clean and decorated with a lot of flowers.

We will definitely visit Chicago again, at least if our tour director's will go with us. :)