Tag Archives: summer

photo friday: what (a start to) a weekend

7 Aug

WWDTM at night

Last weekend was a big one for Summer in Chicago–Lollapalooza invaded the city, and along with it billions of people jamming out to their favorite bands.

I, being as easily annoyed by crowds as I am, spent most of the weekend on the far edges of Grant Park if I even got remotely near it, listening to Lolla from afar, and that was just fine by me. If you can think of a better way to hear Sir Paul McCartney rock out Hey Jude and Let Her Be than on a boat in the harbor where the acoustics are wonderful, then please, do tell me. Because so far that’s the best way I’ve discovered.

Anyshoes, what was even more exciting for this NPR nerd was on Thursday night while stages for Lolla were still being set, and sound checks reverberated just a field away, Swede, our foreign exchange student Emily, and I went to a live taping of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me in Millennium Park. This was Swede’s and my third taping of the show, and while it could not have been a more beautiful night, and while there is something to be said for packing a picnic with a couple bottles of wine to take to the taping, and while it felt like just the most lovely soft city summer night experience, there is something to be said for the indoor tapings. For one, you can see the panelists and their expressions up close. And for two, you can buy stuffed Carl Kasell dolls before the show.

And who doesn’t need a stuffed Carl Kasell doll?

and introducing….

17 Jun

Last summer, I never told you about how I was the Greatest Gardener On The Planet, did I?

(Yes, initial caps even on the articles. I’m That Good.)

I’m guessing I probably did not. Which is a shame, because I was. And probably still am.

In Summer 2014, I discovered that I have a green thumb galore. Specifically when it comes to plants in pots on my balcony. I had four plants—a veritable forest—each of them named and special in my heart. There was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the basil plant; Vivian, the tomato plant; Clive the Chive; Dilbert the dill plant. They all thrived throughout the summer months, and I was in my element tending to them and only freaking out mildly when I’d discover that overnight a spider had spun an intricate web between Vivian and the balcony railing.

To say I was happy with my balcony garden would be an understatement. Let’s consider for a moment that the year before when I had a (nameless) tomato plant that produced all of seven tomatoes.


And while those seven tomatoes were a semi-proud moment, last summer’s bounty blew that shit out of the water. Seriously, Vivian especially was incredibly rambunctious in her production last summer, popping out tomatoes well into October. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler also held her own, and Clive the Chive would regenerate his skinny-stalked self within days of my snipping him down.

It goes without saying, then, that I expect this year to be equally as phenomenal, if not extraordinarily better. Because, as I mentioned, I am The Greatest Gardener On The Planet.

I’ve changed things up a bit in the balcony garden this year, partially because Clive the Chive (who is supposed to be a perennial) did not return, and partially because I wanted to try expanding my gardening gloves. This year, I have five—FIVE!—plants nestled on my balcony, ready and waiting for my deft, agile hands to tend to them with kindness and love, and also shoo away the g-d cats and dog when they get at little too nibbly at the leaves.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce to you this year’s balcony garden stars, all of whom will, if they know what’s good for them, provide me with a cornucopia of herbs and vegetables.

We have Fine Girl, a Brandywine tomato plant (the dog already shows a suspicious amount of interest in her)

Watch it, dog.

Watch it, dog.

Franklin, the basil plant

Oh, Franklin. I do hope you make it past July.

Oh, Franklin. I do hope you make it past July.

Pepper, the mint plant


And Clooney, the rosemary plant (the g-d cats seem particularly taken with her; since Clive the Chive did not return, I have a feeling that Clooney will bear the brunt of their gnawing if I’m not careful)


These were all starter plants that I repotted two weeks (no judging) after I bought them at the farmer’s market, but I wanted to also try growing something from seed, as I’d had such success with Dilbert last summer. This summer, I decided to plant cilantro from seed, because thank the good lord above I do NOT have the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap and honestly, I can’t get enough of the herb. If I could walk around with a bunch of cilantro in hand to sniff whenever I wanted and not look like a complete weirdo, I would. For now I will settle for inconspicuously inhaling and snuffling cilantro-scented candles.

ANYWAY, the point is I also planted cilantro seeds, and now there are a few buds peeking through the dirt. It’s like a miracle! Of nature! That I made happen! (Then again, are we surprised? I am The Greatest Gardener On The Planet.) Hard to tell, though, if this is actually cilantro, or if I’ve been fertilizing weeds the past couple of weeks, but either way I’ve decided to name her Nadia.


Meanwhile, the rest of the plants seem to be doing….well. While I am The Greatest Gardener On The Planet, Franklin struggled for a bit there, as did Fine Girl, but I think they’re on the up and up. Pepper is growing like, well, like a mint plant, that is to say: We will soon have to move out of our condo due to mint infestation. Clooney seems to eat up the summer sun, and if all goes the way I’m hoping, she’ll stick around well into winter.

Welcome, Summer. And welcome home, balcony garden loves.

mcpolish summer 2015 reading list

3 Jun


As I have explained before, I am not the best when it comes to making reading lists and sticking to them.

I daresay that last year I proved myself wrong just a little bit and did manage to finish three of the seven books on the McPolish summer 2014 reading list (even if one of those three was completed two full seasons after summer). That’s almost half! I finished almost half the list!

It was a banner reading season.

Maybe it sounds a little silly that I continue to make these lists but so rarely stick to them. But I have decided I regret nothing, and I refuse to apologize for this shortcoming. I also refuse to stop making reading lists, futile as they may be, because in the end, they are a sort of guide. When I am lost in a sea of books, I can find my book list horizon and get back on track. Or if not on track, at the very least I can say, “Oh, hey, yeah, I should read that book! I’ll put it on my To Read list. Oh wait, it’s already there. Huh. Okay, then, I’ll read it now—Ooo…no, this book over here looks even better.”

It all works out in the end. Trust me.

I should tell you that this year’s summer reading list is inspired by something else I always never do—read the books that Swede and I pick up on our annual New Year’s Day trip to Powell’s. Most of the books on this list are ones purchased at some point in the past five years at various bookstores (Powell’s and otherwise) (yes, I do go to bookstores on non-New Years Day days) (sometimes), and yet (obviously) I never got around to reading.

That said, dear Interwebers, here you go—the Mcpolish Summer 2015 Reading List,* in all its glory.

The Summer 2015 McPolish Reading List: 

books galore

books galore

The Golden Compass—Philip Pullman (Swede has wanted me to read this for awhile. I started it awhile ago, so what better time to finish it than now?)

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained—Robert L. Wolke

We Are Completely Beside Ourselves—Karen Joy Fowler (Yes, this was on last year’s list. No judging.)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)—Mindy Kaling (I borrowed this book from my friend Mare approximately—no joke—four years ago. I should probably read it and return it to her.)

Firefly Lane—Kristin Hannah

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls—David Sedaris (In truth Swede bought this book at an airport bookstore, but as I do enjoy Sedaris’ work, I think it’s high time I crossed this one off my list.)

What’s on your reading list this summer?

 *I’m not linking to Amazon because anyone paid me to, only because it’s the easiest way to link to these reads in case you’re interested in purchasing them and not reading them, too.


four on the 4th

7 Jul

A belated 4th of July post for you, as I was too busy running around Michigan City swigging wine and looking at fireworks to post on the actual 4th. I’m sure our forefathers would approve. 


Happy birthday, America! I was going to make you a cake!

(No, I wasn’t. But if I had, how would I share it, anyway? You are a landmass with no opposable thumbs. Knives and forks are lost on you.)

I do so love the 4th of July, beyond the basic reasons of I Get A Day Off of Work and Hot Dogs. There is so much more to love about the 4th of July in addition to fireworks and ice cream and enjoying the Boston Pops performance of patriotic songs from the comfort of my air conditioned living room. (Except sparklers. These are NOT on my To Love About the 4th list. Sparklers terrify me. They’re just so jumpy and twitchy and flare-y, with bits flying anywhere, just waiting to throw your bangs up in flame.) In fact, I can think of four specific things that fill me up with red, white, and blue love on this happiest of Take That, You Mean Brits Day.*

1)    I get to post this on my Facebook page. And Sam the Eagle, in all his pomposity and righteousness, makes me silly happy.

2)    It feels like summer is now actually happening. June is a crapshoot, weather-wise, and it’s such an, I don’t know, half-finished month. Maybe school is out, maybe it’s not, depending on your district. Perhaps you’re still waffling on your law firm’s softball team name (Scared Hitless or Cases Loaded?). But July, and the fourth of, well. It’s the first full, glorious month of summer, in my opinion, lock, stock, and 95 percent humidity barrel. And the 4th of July is the harbinger of the season.

3)    I can now buy corn with abandon. Obviously I’m thinking of the old adage, “knee high by the 4th of July,” which now that I think about it means that the corn crop still has some time to go and really I should wait until August(ish) to buy corn with abandon, but I probably won’t because I’ve never been one to wait long to eat hot, melted butter on things.

4)    Cymbals. There really is not enough percussion-laden music in this world, particularly that which features cymbals. But the 4th of July, it’s like all the clashing and banging you’ve ever wanted and doubly enhanced by the sweet sound of elephantine tubas. I love a good triangle, too, so really what I’m trying to say is fire up the marching band and John Philip Sousa and your ass over my way.

Happy birthday, USA. God bless you and God bless America. So…you. Again.


*Not that I think the British are on the whole a mean lot. Things were just different back then in Ye Olde England, methinks. 

mcpolish summer 2014 reading list

4 Jun

Chicago Public Library copy

It’s June, which means Memorial Day has come and gone, and in between trying to locate my white pants which I think I stored in a plastic tub behind a box of plates and Christmas ornaments, and trying to decide whether or not it’s appropriate to show up to my tennis lesson with a pitcher of margaritas (it is) (I’ll share!), I’ve been busy tackling my absolute favorite summer activity, which is Putting Together a List of Books I Probably Won’t Read.

It’s not that I don’t want to read them—exactly the opposite, I desperately want to read them. It’s more, well, that I am not, frankly, the best at STICKING to reading lists. I tend to get distracted by other books, and then the next thing I know, my lovely list of beautiful books has fallen by the wayside in favor of reading these other books that caught my eye, and then sometimes even those books fall by the wayside when I am distracted by yet more books and so at any given point in time I have 22 books checked out of the library or sitting idly on my shelves, and really this is all my parents’ fault, because if they’d just made me a trust fund kid like I’d asked them to I wouldn’t have to work and thus would have time for both the list of books and the distractor books and the idle books and also probably a pony.

God, they are cruel people, my parents.

Anyway, so I’ve gathered a list of books—some recommendations from friends, some from reviews I’ve read in newspapers and magazines, some random covers that caught my eye at the library that one time I showed enough restraint to not check out 17 books at once—and have put them together for the McPolish 2014 Summer Reading List.

Side note—I have big plans to read most of these as actual paper and ink books, rather than on my kindle. Not that I don’t love my kindle (I do, muchly), it’s that I recently realized, Hot Damn! I miss the sensation of turning an actual page, rather than a figurative one like on an e-reader or like Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band.

The takeaway friends, is this: I’m going to read some books, and this is what I (might) read, in case you yourself are looking for something to read in the coming sweaty months.*

The Summer 2014 McPolish Reading List**

Ladies’s Night—Mary Kay Andrews

The Wishbones—Tom Perrotta

Amy Falls Down—Jincy Willett

Lola’s Secret—Monica McInerney

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves—Karen Joy Fowler

The Wolf and the Watchman—Scott Johnson

Neither Here Nor There—Bill Bryson


*You’ll notice that the list is quite short, by McPolish standards. I’m working on behavioral changes lately, which focus on setting goals for myself that are “reasonable” and “realistic.” ANd being “patient.” Gah. The fact alone that I am attempting this I think means I’m in over my head. Wish me luck.

**These are just my own thoughts on what to read, and I’m linking to Amazon not because anyone paid me to but because it was the easiest place to link. 

photo friday: nuns not on the run, but sitting.

21 Dec


I know I wrote about Pierogi Fest (albeit briefly) earlier this summer, but I recently came across this photo, and did I ever mention that there were more than a few nuns there? In a dunk tank?

Yeah, that’s right.

Nuns in a dunk tank.

Real nuns, too. Not just ladies dressed up like nuns.

And they were HECKLING nuns, too.

While snapping this photo, the nun in the tank yelled out to the guy throwing the baseball, wildly missing the target, “That all ya got? Come OOOOONNNN.”

And you know? I think he did deserve it. His throwing was simply terrible. If you’re going to chuck a baseball at a nun in a dunk tank, throw it like you mean it, man.

photo friday: the blues

19 Oct

Did I ever tell you that we went blueberry picking this summer?


Because I pretty much didn’t blog…at all…this summer?


Imagine that.

Well, we did. We went blueberry picking. And it was hot and sweaty and fruity. As it should be, of course, though earlier that day it had been raining and storming and looking like there would be no blueberry picking to be had.

But in the end, there was. And twenty-two bucks and seventy thouzilliand gallons later, there were blueberry bundt cakes and blueberry jam and, the best yet, a bag of frozen fresh blueberries in the freezer, ready for me to pull out in the dead of winter when I need to feel blue—in a good way.

book by book: summer 2011 reading list

25 May

Thanks to all of you who hooked me up via Facebook and the comments section and Gchats with ideas for this year’s McPolish Summer Reading List. There’s definitely a good mix of light, fluffy reading and some serious thinky books in here, which I totally appreciate. (And yes, of COURSE there are romance novels on the list!) Anyone want to take a guess on how many of these I will finish? Someone want to put out an over/under?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and in the meantime, if you’re looking for something to dive into this summer (rather than your local watering hole), maybe you’ll want to check out a few of these tomes yourself.

 The McPolish Summer 2011 Reading List: 

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay—Michael Chabon

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth—Alexandra Robbins

A Thousand Acres—Jane Smiley

The Known World—Edward P. Jones

The Bridge of San Luis Rey—Thornton Wilder

The Duke & I—Julia Quinn

Pride and Prejudice—Jane Austen

Left Neglected—Lisa Genova

The Weight of Silence—Heather Gudenkauf

Hunger Games Series

Into the Woods—Tana French

Paradise–Judith McNaught

Perfect–Judith McNaught

JD Robb Series

Bossypants—Tina Fey

All the Pretty Horses—Cormac McCarthy

Freedom—Jonathan Franzen

the calm before the storm

16 May

There’s something very peaceful about all these empty slips, before the boats are put in the water, bringing with them the hustle and bustle of summer. It’s a peace that is not easily interrupted.

Unless you let the constant honking of the geese that have returned to the area get to you. And you shouldn’t let it get to you, because there are bigger things to worry about, like avoiding putting a shoe in the goose poop that spots the sidewalks seemingly everywhere.

*shakes fist*

photo friday: the night

4 Jun

Technical skill and exposure-wise, this is probably precisely what constitutes a Very Bad Photograph.

But yet I kind of love it.

I think it’s kind of cool, actually, like a sudden explosion lit up the night sky something fierce, and I was lucky enough to catch it as it happened.
But really it was just an explosion of a multitude of fireworks going off simultaneously.

I love fireworks.

It’s entirely possible that they are my raison d’etre of summertime.

Well, that and corn-on-the-cob and grilled meats.

A girl’s got to have her priorities, you know.

*In case you were wondering, this week’s Photo Friday theme, courtesy of Calliope, is “The Night.” Stop by her blog to check out what other bloggers had to say (post) this week! And for the record, I think this has been my favorite PF theme so far. Then again, I think that every week. But no! Really! This one’s my favorite! I swear! So many options, it was hard to choose where to take this. But there I went. Good times.