Sunday, October 31, 2010

Roast Squash and Wild Rice

Oh. my. gourd. I have a problem. I can't stop buying winter squash!

I cooked up a storm last Thursday- I said I wanted to have healthy meals to eat while moving, but it was also a last hurrah in the kitchen I've utilized more than any other. Fortunately I had just discovered this recipe on Veggie by Season's blog and was so happy to see that I had most of the ingredients. Buttercup squash was the lucky victim. I'm not sure how such a bumpy squash earned such a cute name, but don't be deceived. This has now replaced butternut squash as my gourd of choice!

Squash + leeks. A match made in autumnal heaven.

Roast Squash and Wild Rice

serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side dish 

2 c. prepared Wild Rice cooked in vegetable or chicken stock
2 lbs. squash of choice
2 medium leeks, chopped (or 1 large yellow onion- but the leek made this dish)
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 c. dried cranberries or cherries (I used cherries)
1 Tbs. coconut butter (not necessary, but I'm glad I added it on a whim)
1 Tbs. honey
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, add squash and leeks (or onion), drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss well. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until tender and caramelized.

Cook rice while the vegetables are roasting. (I followed the package directions and cooked 1/2 cup dry rice in 1.5 cups broth to make 2 cups cooked.) Add cherries to the rice on the stovetop during last 10 minutes of cooking.

When rice is cooked, add coconut butter (if using), honey, and lemon juice, and toss to distribute. Mix in squash and leeks and serve warm.

I know this doesn't have a protein in it because we're low on groceries (I had a Greek yogurt on the side if that counts, Mom?!) But this would be great with navy beans, black-eyed peas, or even cubed chicken or pork.

This picture doesn't really do the recipe justice- I absolutely loved it! I ate this dish twice a day for the last 3 days and I wish I still had some in the fridge. It was that good.

Your Life is Now

**Please excuse what I'm sure will be an excessively verbose post written in a haze of 
post-run euphoria. Read at your own risk.**

I really needed today's run! I felt a little guilty leaving the last bit of heavy furniture moving to Ross and my cousins to go run for 2 hours, but I really wanted to run, felt good enough to run, had perfect running weather, and needed to catch up on my training plan.

I only ran 12 miles total last week and ran that same amount all at once today. However, I am realistic enough to suspect that last week's unplanned "taper" certainly attributed to my mental and physical ability to run today. (And 5 days of Prednisone to calm my asthma back down certainly didn't hurt).

My legs were not extremely fond of me when I woke up this morning, thanks to all the stairs we did while moving yesterday, but I took it as a good sign that I was still chomping at the bit to run. Actually wanting to run has been a struggle for me lately.

I decided to run from the apartment to the Plaza. I knew the route and wouldn't have to second-guess trails ending, unknown elevation, etc. There were definitely rolling hills (my Garmin says about 1200 feet of total elevation change each way) and traffic, but I got out early enough to beat most of the traffic, at least.

The first 1.5 miles flew by (I don't know if I've ever said that in my life) and it felt so good to run without wheezing! I was just focused on getting to 4 miles (to take my Cliff Shot) and not thinking beyond that, lest I get overwhelmed. I had a great playlist of songs from high school, which helped a lot. I walked 1 minute for every 5 minutes of running, per usual, although it seems like every other 'walk' break actually involved me standing still and stretching my legs out.

I took that first Shot and was loving the sunshine and beautiful weather by mile 4. My hands were numb from cold, but that was my only complaint. I made it to the Plaza and did get a little overwhelmed when I turned around, realizing that was the farthest away I could possibly be and if I had to quit or walk, it'd be a LONG morning from there. Miles 6-8 were kind of rough, especially because traffic was getting worse and I was on a stretch with no shoulder or sidewalk (really, Kansas City? Be more pedestrian friendly.) I kept changing my stride to keep my legs warm and chugging along.

I took my second Shot right after mile 8 and definitely needed it. My legs were getting tired. I also wanted some more water then, too, but had to ration. (I was carrying a water bottle as I ran. I'm so glad I had it and it's an easy bottle to carry, but now my arms are sore. Lame!)

Shortly after that, I was cruising into familiar territory again and I knew I had a nice neighborhood and a downhill to end with. But first I had to climb back up into the neighborhood. Mile 11 was definitely the hardest. My legs were getting really stiff and heavy, and oddly getting cold which didn't help the stiffness. I got a pain behind my right knee and started to get worried.

Thankfully, John Mellencamp's "Your Life is Now" came on and energized me.

...This is your time, to do what you will do
Your life is now
Your life is now
Your life is now
In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now...

I have been getting overwhelmed thinking about marathon mileage and training, and doubting weather I want to do it anymore. But this song reminded me, "if not now, when?!" It's something I've wanted to do for so long, and I'm slowly starting to think I CAN actually do it. (At least, a half seems totally attainable. Even doable in 2 hours and 30 minutes which is my goal!)

That song was just what I needed to dig deep, speed up a little, and finish strong! I'm so thankful that my breathing was pretty comfortable during today's run. That allowed me to just focus on my form and avoid further injury. I know I'm cutting it close with a busy week of work coming up and a few more long runs before I taper my half marathon, which is in *GULP* twenty-one days! I'm hoping today's run was a good step in the right direction!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moving Meltdown

We're currently in the middle of moving to a new apartment. 

Me + Moving:
(Credit for this montage goes to this hilarious blogger)

In Ft. Worth, we lived in apartment #1335.

We then moved to Kansas City into apartment #1433.

I was really hoping that when the time came, we'd move out of that apartment into a cute little house with the number #1531.

But with me on day shift and Ross with a full class load, our one-bedroom apartment got too tiny really fast. (I can count on two hands the number of times we've actually eaten at the table in our apartment in the last year since it doubles as Ross' desk and Therese + food + computer = a disaster waiting to happen). Since it just doesn't make sense/isn't financially possible for us to buy a house right now, we're moving to a new apartment in the same complex.

We upgraded to a one-bedroom with an office and pretty much bullied the apartment manager into lowering the rent on the new place since the air conditioner in our old place was broken from July through October. No joke. We're still paying more, but hopefully the extra space (and a table we can eat at) will be worth it.

If I've learned anything today, it's that I'm whiny and wimpy. And I need lots of snack breaks.

Ross is the exact opposite. He just wants to POWER THROUGH. I didn't get to go on a run today-- Ross has done most of the work as it is, without me leaving for 2 hours. But since we're moving from 3rd floor to 3rd floor (again), my legs sure hate me anyway! Good thing Ross is such a champ. I'm sure when it's said and done, he will have done 80% of the actual moving. And here I am whining again...

Dear Ross, I AM SO SORRY! Next time I will work as much overtime as I need to, and save up to pay for movers. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

What it Means to be a Nurse

One of my favorite nursing school instructors gave this poem to us when we were close to graduating. I found it while packing/sorting through a box of school stuff to move. Now that I've been a nurse for almost 3 years, I see truth in every line.

You will never be bored.
You will always be frustrated.
So much to do and so little time.
You will carry immense responsibility
and very little authority.
You will step into people’s lives
and you will make a difference.
Some will bless you.
Some will curse you.
You will see people at their worst-
and at their best.
You will never cease to be amazed
at people’s capacity for
love, courage, and endurance.
You will see life begin- and end.
You will experience resounding triumphs
and devastating failures.
You will cry a lot.
You will laugh a lot.
You will know what it is to be human
and to be humane.

-Melodie Chenevert

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When Upside-down is Rightside-up

I went to Bikram Yoga today and it felt SO GOOD to be back! I loved finishing a hard workout with spaghetti legs instead of brick legs. I really needed the stretch and class was even more encouraging because even though I haven't been to Bikram since last March, I can tell that running has made me stronger again. I tried every pose even though I'm far from perfecting any. And I didn't have to take a break and sit down during class at all!

In other news, I have two apples left from our trip through Nebraska City. I've fallen into a terrible habit of baking on my days off, and today I wanted to make a Ross-approved treat since he's always cleaning up after me when I work several days in a row. Enter caramel apples + cake. I used these two recipes for guidance and I'm so happy with the results!

Browned Butter Caramel

4 Tbs. butter
3/4 cup brown sugar

Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, begin to stir with a heat-safe spatula until the butter turns golden. Continue to stir for about 10 more seconds to achieve a really rich caramel color. Take off heat immediately and turn burner down to medium heat. Add brown sugar and place skillet back on the burner. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat until the caramel is smooth and creamy.

Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake

1 batch of browned butter caramel (see recipe above)
2 apples, cored and sliced
sprinkle of lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make browned butter caramel, pour into 9-inch cake pan (I used 12 muffin tins and had a little leftover) and set aside. Arrange apple slices in pan. Sprinkle lemon juice over apple slices and set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon). Cream together the butter with the granulated sugar, syrup, and applesauce. Add the eggs, one at a time, while continuing to beat. Add the vanilla extract and then the dry ingredients, alternately with the milk. Beat until light and fluffy.

Spread over apples and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When it's done, the cakes will look golden and the sides will start to pull away from the pan. Allow to cool for several minutes, then grab a plate or cake stand and place on top of the pan. Flip over and hope for the best. Gently tap the top of each muffin tin and carefully remove.

Sometimes things must be upside down to become right side up. In yoga and in baking!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'Roid Rave

I took 2 days off from exercise, stretched a lot, tried to eat more protein, and still had a rough run today. Don't get me wrong, my knees felt a lot better and my quads are getting there, but I was still so slow.  Yet I chalked the run up as a success because I finished, and went about my day. I kept repeating a line from the Desiderata in my head: "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter. For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." My running is my running. My training plan is my training plan. Keep chugging away, and it'll be okay. (I'm glad we're training "together," Emily G., but your workouts completely intimidate me and here I am getting slower instead of faster!)

But as I ran errands, I noticed that my throat was still pretty constricted. I have asthma, so it takes time to breathe normally after a run- but never several hours. I went up to the hospital to get my Tuesday allergy shot and went ahead and told the nurse there. I had noticed my asthma getting worse in Chicago, but when I still felt cruddy after we arrived back in KC, I just assumed I was fighting a cold this past week. DUH, I should know better!

I'm very compliant with my asthma meds and I've been stable for a year now. I almost never even need my "rescue" inhaler, let alone further treatment. But when my family was in Egypt a few years ago, the pollution was so bad that I spent New Year's Eve on a Nile Cruise hacking up a lung. I think it took 2 1/2 weeks of Prednisone to finally breathe normally after that. Chicago wasn't nearly that bad, but it was still noticeably harder to breathe when we were walking through downtown at rush hour.

Anyway, I always have to exhale into a peak flow meter before my allergy shot. I usually measure about 520 but today it was only 410 (78% of my "norm"). Most doctors wait until peak flow deteriorates to 70% or below to treat, but I told them that when I wait until the symptoms reach my chest and I start coughing a lot, it takes several courses of steroids to fix it. Thankfully, they took my word for it and I obtained my first Prednisone prescription of 2010. I think it's been about a year since I took the last round, which is impressive for me.

I have a love-hate relationship with 'roids (as Ross loves to call them). They shoot my blood sugar sky-high and they weaken my bones (I've taken so much Prednisone in the last decade that I have osteopenia). But oh, I love being about to breathe again. I sleep better, run better, heck even talk better when the inflammation goes down. I'm starting to get hoarse and cough more tonight. I'm SO glad I took my first tablet this afternoon. Hopefully I'll avoid the worst of the attack.

Today I'm so thankful that I have medical care, and that my problems are easy enough to treat with an old (and therefore inexpensive) medication. And I'm especially grateful that most of the time, I can breathe so well I forget I have asthma!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Lucky Ones

*Change it or let it go. Complaining is a waste of energy.*

I heard someone say this recently and I've been thinking about it a lot. I had a little pity party the other day, but I did indeed snap out of it. I know my mood was more related to all the cloudy days and humid weather we've been having rather than the fact that I actually have a life worth complaining about.

It usually takes a good but busy day at work to give me perspective. I may whine a little (okay, a lot. It's a problem.) about working 14 hour days from time to time, but at least I get to leave. I get to go home to a quiet house and forget about the hospital for a while. I cannot fathom sitting by my own child's bed, relinquishing every bit of parental instinct and control, for over 100 days. When I see a mom who is able to invest that much time, that much love, into her perfectly imperfect child, it breaks my heart. Every time mom tears up, I find myself doing the same.

Some days the NICU overwhelms me (as does projectile vomit) and I wish I could tell mothers everywhere: you think you have it bad? Pick a random baby in the NICU and I guarantee they have it so much worse. (But please feel free to remind me I said this in a few years when I'm awake at 3am with a fussy baby of my own).
There is no greater love than to give your life to another. I was so honored to see this love in action today. Please, if you have a little one at home, no matter how long your day (or night) may be, thank God that you're at home and not in a cold, loud hospital trying to sleep on a pull-out bed. (And if you are, my prayers are with you).

I will admit I am often jaded: how is it "fair" that one irresponsible mom can have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and delivery, while a perfectly healthy mom can go to a happy prenatal ultrasound one day and receive news that will forever turn her world upside-down? (Disclaimer: I also absolutely witness bad choices during pregnancy harming the baby and healthy choices during pregnancy leading to amazing outcomes. But other times there's no rhyme or reason, and it scares the crap out of me!)

However, I left work today grateful for 3 things:
1) That I am able to leave work, the hospital, and the drama behind me for a few hours.
2) The ability to witness the strength of the human spirit and our ability to place our cares on a greater God when we literally cannot carry them another day.
3) A deep and profound appreciation for my own health and my own life. 

I hope you find something to be thankful for tonight as well! 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Snap Out of It!

I felt like I was on top of the world last week after running 10 miles in Chicago. This week? Not so much. I know there are so many worse things going on in the world; I encounter these things every time I go to work. I have friends struggling with much bigger hurdles than marathon training. I know this. Yet I'm still feeling a little blue.

I feel like life has been non-stop since September started. And here we are over halfway through October. How did that happen?! All I know is, I'm so tired. I don't want to pack up our apartment and move in 10 days. (I don't know if it's better or worse that we're moving across the street in the same apartment complex). I don't want to look at my race training schedule. I don't want to cook a healthy dinner because it means a messy kitchen. I don't want to go to work. By the time we unpack and settle into our new apartment, the holidays will be upon us. I don't see things slowing down until March. And that thought exhausts me.

Maybe it's because I'm exhausted in general. I have been fighting a head cold all week and have not been sleeping well. Running, after a glorious high point last week, has gone rapidly downhill (figuratively, unfortunately, and not literally). I ran about half the miles I was scheduled to this week- culminating in today's "11 mile run" that turned into a lousy, windy, humid, sweaty, achy 4 miles.

My legs are tired. My heart is tired. My head is tired of mental running games. I'm starting to dread runs. I wake up feeling like I "have" to get this certain run in, instead of feeling strong and confident and WANTING to go running.  I'm questioning whether or not I actually want to sign up for the marathon. The whole point was to get in shape and after almost a year of consistent exercising, I feel like I am almost there. Do I really need to run an insane 26.2 miles to prove it?

I still alternate running 5 minutes and walking 1 minute for most of my runs, and definitely for anything over 3 miles. I really loved the 10k last month and I'm already looking forward to March when I can quit the long distances and instead work on speed and eliminating walking breaks. (I say March because, inevitably, I will still sign up for the marathon in February hoping that I get out of this funk by then).

If you asked me a year ago if I could run 10 miles, I would have laughed in your face. That was the high school Therese who could run like that. But last Friday, I was on top of the world. There are a lot of things I don't miss about high school, but being in good shape is one thing I do miss. Senior year, I could go out and run for an hour at a time without thinking twice. Maybe someday I'll get there again. Today if you asked me if I could run 10 miles, I would still laugh in your face! My legs felt like deadweights all day and my knees are creaky.

What I'm hoping helps in the next few weeks:
-starting my beloved Bikram yoga again next week
-today's ice bath (I should probably start making them a weekly occurrence)
-lots of sleep
-stretching with the foam roller every day (I think a tight IT band is what's making my left knee hurt)
-vitamin C and zinc (to get this cold out of my system)
-lots of fruits and veggies to aid in physical and mental recovery

Tonight, I'm relaxing on the couch and eating the Pumpkin Ginger Snaps I just made. (Thanks for the reci"pea" Sarah!)

Pumpkin Gingersnaps

makes 20-24 cookies
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour + 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. ginger
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 c. organic sugar + additional 1/4 c. for rolling
  • 1/4 c. molasses

In a medium bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.  Set aside. Using an electric or stand mixer, cream together butter, pumpkin, sugar and molasses. Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients, mixing until a dough comes together. Chill dough for at least an hour.

When dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 and pour remaining 1/4 c. of sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll heaping tablespoons full of dough into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar until completely covered. Flatten cookie dough balls slightly and bake for 8 minutes or until edges are set.  Do not overbake. Cookies will seem soft, but allow them to cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

 Now if only I could learn to be thankful for everything even when I'm under the weather, like this blogger is!

Friday, October 22, 2010

From 1 Minute to 10 Miles

*Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, 
you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.*  
-Mark Victor Hansen

Last Friday I completed my first double-digit run since high school. And only the 2nd or 3rd in my entire life! I ran on the trail along the lake in Chicago and I'm thankful I had Navy Pier to distract me for the first third of my run. It seems that the most daunting part of a long run is the first few miles. When you've been running for 5 minutes, realizing oh man I have 9.5 miles to go... is not the most encouraging thought.

So I turned my thoughts to other things. I was alternately excited, worried, zoned-out, questioning my sanity, and euphoric.  "Excited" and "euphoric" were in short supply and really only filtered through my mind the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes of the run. The rest of it was, to be honest, uncomfortable. I was running s l o w l y so the miles seemed to be taking forever to tick by. The wind off the lake was chilly and my legs got stiff and sore pretty quickly.

I started to wonder why I was running a marathon. My mileage only goes up from here. My first official half marathon is one month away and that seemed scary enough. But, by the end of the run, I suddenly felt great and capable of anything... including 13.1 miles!

I finished my run at the Buckingham Fountain and the glitter off the bricks added to my euphoria. I couldn't help but smile. Gosh darn it, I'd just run 10 miles!

As I finished my run, I discovered another love song that now applies to running. "White Flag" by Dido came up on my iPod and it was a great song to finish with:

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender

There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

(I keep putting random playlists on my iPod and when I reach a song like this that gives me more energy, I move it to a marathon playlist. I'm hoping that listening to all the songs I've loved and that have improved my runs during training will help with nerves on race day.)

I didn't quit. I ran 10 miles! I'd say "if I can do it, anyone can," but I hate it when other people say that. Instead I'll say this: If you are reading this and you want to be a runner but you're afraid you can't do it, try. And then a few days later, try again. You'll never know until you try. 

A year ago, I had just traded my friends, my amazing workplace, and a city I loved for night shift at a new hospital and a long, dark, cold winter. I felt like I had no control over anything in my life, so I started running. One minute at a time. 

I'd run one minute and then walk for 2 minutes. It took the full 2 minutes for my wheezing to stop and allow me to catch my breath. I'd do this for 20-30 minutes and call it a day. After a week or two, I decreased my walking so I was running 1 minute and walking 1 minute. Once that was comfortable, I upped my running to 2 minutes and continued to walk 1 minute. I worked up to 3, 4, and 5 minute intervals. Each week I started a new interval, you can bet I was staring at my watch waiting for the moment I could walk again!

It took me 7 months to run 3 miles without stopping, and 8-9 months to increase the mileage of my thrice weekly runs above 3 miles at a time. I still have some really bad workouts. I continue to struggle with motivation, the occasional aches and pains, and proper fueling. But I'm SO GLAD I started running.  When you have a good run, there's no better feeling in the world!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Country Mouse, City Mouse

I had an RNC study course in Chicago this weekend and since it fell over Ross' fall break, he came too. I can't believe neither of us has been here! I read There Are No Children Here in high school and thought the entire city sounded terrifying: loud, dirty, and dangerous. But a tourist can be selective (and naive). The parts of Chicago we saw were indeed loud and crowded, but they seemed busy with a purpose and crowded as an art.

Cairo and St. Louis are my only "big city" experiences, and even then I relied on others to know where we were going and how to get there. I don't love public transportation. My lungs rebel from the high pollution levels. But Ross? Ross was in heaven the minute we set foot in the O'Hare airport. He loved the El. He loved the rumble of the trains, the exposed steel rails, the endless skyscrapers. He loved being lost in a big city. I needed a map and orientation at all times. And lots of hand sanitizer.

When I was little, I pretended I was Laura Ingalls Wilder and loved running through tall grass in my "Laura" bonnet and blue muslin dress. When Ross was little, he loved Bot Wars and building skyscrapers out of Legos.

I was so excited to find a garden in the middle of the city.

Ross walked ahead and pretended not to know me when I did anything touristy.

Friday night, we were sitting in the shuttle after about an hour of traveling from downtown to our hotel (a trek that involved taking the Blue Line train through a dozen stops and then getting out to wait for the shuttle to pick us up) and I was staring at the cars out the window. Ross turned to me and said, "If we lived here, I don't think I'd even want a car!" I replied, "That's funny. I was just thinking how much I missed my car." I may hate driving in traffic, but I do love the fact that millions of people haven't sat where I'm sitting when I'm in the driver's seat.

It's shocking how opposite we are sometimes. Millenium Park and the surrounding public spaces made a good compromise. I loved the open space. Ross loved the accessible skyline.

Fortunately, Ross had lots of time to play city slicker while I sat in a conference room every morning. When we met up in the afternoons, it was so fun to watch him talk animatedly about the skyscraper tours he took that day. Oh yes, that's plural. He didn't even scratch the surface of available tours. I love my little city mouse!

Friday, October 15, 2010

One year already!

Ross and I are in Chicago and I didn't bring my laptop, but I had to stop by because I noticed the date when I was leaving the El station this evening. It's October 15. That means that tomorrow will mark one year since we packed our entire apartment into a tiny U-Haul. Ross pulled it all behind him in the truck and I left a few hours after him to made the tearful 8 hour drive to our new home.

And yes, despite the roller-coaster year we've had, and given the fact that I have been constantly on the go for the last 4 weeks, it's safe to say that KC is definitely home right now. You can expect a long-winded post reflecting on everything when I get back. For now, I need to get to bed so I can enjoy my last full day in the Windy City!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome to Chicago

When we got to Chicago today, we made a beeline for downtown and walked. It was a gorgeous day!

*Chicago is perhaps the most typically American place in America.* James Bryce, 1888

*Chicago is a city of contradictions, of private visions haphazardly overlaid and linked together. If the city was unhappy with itself yesterday-and invariably it was-it will reinvent itself today.* Pat Colander, 1985

*Gigantic, willful, young,
Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates.*
William Vaughn Moody, 1901


*I've reported murders, scandals, marriages, premieres and national political conventions. I've been amused, intrigued, outraged, enthralled and exasperated by Chicago. And I've come to love this American giant, viewing it as the most misunderstood, most underrated city in the world. There is none other quite like my City of Big Shoulders.* Irv Kupcinet, 1941

*Chicago seems a big city instead of merely a large place.* A. J. Liebling

*Chicago will give you a chance. The sporting spirit is the spirit of Chicago.* Lincoln Steffens

*Chicago is an October sort of city.* Nelson Algren, 1984

*Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.* Frank Lloyd Wright

*We struck the home trail now, and in a few hours were in that astonishing Chicago--a city where they are always rubbing a lamp, and fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities.It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago--she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.* Mark Twain "Life On The Mississippi," 1883

*A facade of skyscrapers facing a lake and behind the facade, every type of dubiousness.* E.M. Forster

*I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America.* Sarah Bernhardt


Garden in the City

Wednesday was definitely my 'touristy' day in Chicago. We saw so much! I loved the garden near Millenium Park. Beautiful, clean public spaces are an aspect of big-city life that I could get used to.