Random Thursday: Random Travels and Battle Sheep

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

My MIL is doing well (thank you for your kind thoughts and crossed fingers), I made it to the next level of interviews, traveled by train to Chicago all by myself (hush, it’s a Big Thing),  had a marvelous time with two of my favorite people (and one favorite’s teenaged daughter), and made it back home in time for a two hour nap before taking the kids to the annual school Luau and Backpack Dumping.

Been an active week.

The kids’ school stuff was waiting for them when I dropped them off this morning for the first (half) day of the new school year.  The entire household is very excited about this new opportunity for intellectual and social growth—with the sole and unsurprising exception of the kids, who just last week were complaining loudly about how boring summer camp was, until they realized they only had four days left.

I took the day off, so in a little while, I’ll head back pick them up, along with all the forms we forgot to pick up at the Luau.  Oops.

But for now, it’s time to relax, have another cup of coffee, and offer random, illustrated pieces of the last couple days:


The Windy Rainy City

Chicago Tour2

It doesn’t have a thumb in it, but I’m pretty sure I did take this photo. Jane wasn’t with me and it’s on my phone, so unless a pickpocket took pity on me, it’s mine.

My friend thefirstmausi and I (and her daughter) met early Tuesday morning at the Chicago First Lady Boat Dock—and when I say “met”, I mean for the first time in person—to take one of the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruises.

‘firstmausi has the best ideas.

If you ever have the chance to take one of these, please do.  The docents are a hoot—they know their stuff and they also know how to make it interesting—and since Chicago is a tall, busy city, it’s easy to miss all the beautiful structures—historical and new—if you stick to the streets.

And also hidden urban folk art.

Graffitti Chicago

Plus, you’re on a boat on a river, so everything is relaxed and lovely and mercy those bridges are low.

I’m going to go again the next time I’m in Chicago, because the city is constantly in flux and I want to see the results of all the construction and restoration efforts that are just getting started. . .  and also because I missed most of the last half of this one due to the rescheduled rainstorm—which was inexplicably moved up from Friday, and whose decision was that?—drove us inside.

There were large windows and we could hear the docent, but we always seemed to be on the wrong side of the boat to see whatever she was describing.

But that gave ‘firstmausi and I time to talk, so I can’t complain.*


In the Pink

One of the only things Sunny likes about going back to school is getting new shoes.

You can’t tell from the photo, but these things are bright, bright pink.  With neon color splashes on them.


She loves them so much, she asked for a second pair, exactly the same, for gym.

And went to school today, wearing them with her new, lacy school dress, which is bright purple.

Clutching her pink, hedgehog-shaped pencil sharpener.  Named Fluffy.

Guess where we had breakfast?

Guess where we had breakfast?

Why not?


Taxi of Shame

Chicago was a seven taxi trip for me—five of them on Tuesday—and totally worth the cost.

I like taxis, especially when I’m alone in a city I don’t know well and won’t be staying in long enough to learn bus routes.

You get in, given them an address, and they take you there. No transfers, no missed stops, no walking.

My only problem with this method of transportation, aside from the environmental impact, is that I’m total crap at flagging them down, and I’ve learned—thank you, Manhattan—that throwing myself on the mercy of the nearest hotel doorman or even random strangers works a lot better than throwing myself in the middle of the street.

I’m not easy to miss, so I assume my body language isn’t confident enough . . . or I have a random secret invisibility superpower that only works on cabbies.

I’m fully aware that this may be two ways of saying the same thing, but having a superpower is way cooler, so we’ll use that one.


In the Pink, Redux

Jane wore some pink today to school, too.


Unlike her sister’s shoes, this image has the intensity juuuuust right.

Not that she didn’t opt for awesomeshoes of her own this year:


That’s my girl.


Psst, Lyra

These are what I think of, when I think gooseberries, which grew wild in our yard when I was a kid:


What we had Tuesday evening** were apparently cultivated Cape gooseberries.

Cape gooseberreis

What else would you serve with memoir bandal cheese and purple heirloom tomatoes?

(The pita chips from the hummus, right)


Battle Sheep!

I can’t take a trip without getting something for the kids, mostly because I love them and also because dear god the puppy dog eyes.

To amplify the incentive, they were supposed to come with me but we couldn’t make it work.

Guilt is a great motivator.

So is shopping at cool toy stores. Like Marbles: The Brain Store.***

A somewhat bewildered ‘first mausi found a Gummi Candy kit that’s perfect for Sunny, my budding Mad Scientist and gummyworm addict.

And for Jane?

Battle Sheep

It’s like Risk.  With SHEEP.



Tuck This in Your Garter . . .

Flask Building

‘firstmausi and I saw this building after the rain chased us below deck, so I have no idea what the docent said about it, if anything, and I haven’t had the chance to track it down, yet.

Until someone can tell me what it’s called or what it’s for, I’m dubbing it “The Flask Building’, because that’s what we thought it looked like from our angle and I persist in the delusion that I’m funny.

So if one of the characters in my wereduck story has his office in the Flask Building—and he will, ’cause I wrote it up on the train—this is why:

Flask Building 2




*I might complain about the photos she took of me—I really should know better than to bother picking up my hairbrush in Chicago—but I’ll wait until I see what she does with them.  If it’s blackmail,  I might have to travel to Germany to retrieve the negatives—darn!

** I was able to meet Lyra for a wondrous hour or so at One North Kitchen, which has good food and fantastic staff. Our  waiter—who made the mistake of joking about writing his memoirs in front of two writers who were more than willing to run with it until he fled—sold us on a plate of bandal cheese with (purple) heirloom tomatoes, crostini, and gooseberries.  She and I had also ordered two other appetizers—herbal flatbread and hummus, YUM—and were holding seven different conversations at once, so by the time we noticed the gooseberries, we’d forgotten what they were.  I figured they were a kind of baby tomatillo, which sounded plausible to Lyra and the passing bartender we asked.  He went to check and it turned out we were both wrong.  And now I’m trying to figure out where I can get gooseberries up here . . .

***Can I just say here how much fun I had trying to explain to two German women the ode to commercialized history and disposable income that is the American Girl Doll Store?  I finally gave up and agreed with ‘firstmausi and her daughter:  “Only in America.”  Such a proud moment.