Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back by popular demand

Okay, so it isn't popular so much as a modest or reasonable demand. And it really wasn't a demand so much as a mention of my blog on a friend's blog. But we'll just call it an excuse or simply mild justification for me to pick this up again.

We're in Chicago now, and it's a rainy, cool evening, which means I could finally bake some cookies. That's what a home is to me: a place where I can bake some chocolate chip cookies . . . and then eat as many as I want before having to face a neighborhood full of avid exercisers and moms whose wardrobes consist solely of short running shorts, spandex, and Starbucks coffee.

I say Chicago, but the name of the town is La Grange, and it's right smack dab between Midway and O'Hare, landing us about 25 minutes by car from downtown Chicago: home of Harpo studios, The Second City, and Al Capone. And I just found out that Chicago has the greatest number of ghosts of any American city, probably thanks in large part to Al Capone and not Oprah, although some would argue otherwise. Don't know how the experts managed to count the ghosts, slippery little spirits they, but who am I to question authority?

All I know is that my house is not haunted. It's not, it's not, it's not. And I know this because I explained to the powers that be some time ago that if they didn't send any spirits my way, I would never intentionally send any their way.

But our house is old enough (built in 1907), as is our neighborhood, that history abounds. This is the 3rd house we've owned (and we've only owned 3, so this is a pretty significant statistic) that was built prior to 1925. We live in the "historic district," which means very little, I think, except that we need permits to do everything from putting on an addition to doing electrical work to rearranging our furniture. Okay, maybe not that last one, but we are looking into remodeling our 3rd floor and have been told that if we don't hire an architect to draw up the blueprints, then the village will make things very difficult for us. What "very difficult" means exactly, I don't know. Sounds kind of haunting in and of itself, doesn't it? So unless Ron finds away around it, which you all know he'll spend hours and hours trying to do, we'll be paying someone a couple thousand dollars to draw up plans for us to put in an itty bitty bathroom and new drywall.

We live four blocks away from downtown La Grange, and the houses get older as you get closer to town and the train station--except for the little houses squeezed in on lots that were split in the 50s and then built upon. Downtown La Grange consists of quite a few businesses, including a Border's (Don't Shop There! Shop Independents!! But feel free to browse), a Trader Joe's, a National City, a movie theater, and quite a few restaurants and antique shops. Okay, so there's a McDonald's there as well, lest you think we're too quaint. The library and the kids' schools are also in walking distance, so my car rarely leaves the garage.

All in all, we're happy here, although, dang it, we miss Pittsburgh a lot. We're homesick for good friends and idle chatter and the comfort of hanging out in neighbors' yards until they kicked us out when they got home and looked into a restraining order.

We had a great 11 years there, especially the last 3 and a half when we learned what a neighborhood can really be at its best.

Off to finish off that batch of cookies while I weep and look through photo albums. Or weep and watch the convention. Either way, cookies will have to be involved.


Wendy said...

Yippee! You're back. Makes me want to move next door to you. Wendy

Tina Francis said...

Please post a pic of the new old home w/family if you get a chance. Sounds lovely to walk to school, even if spandex clad joggers are plentiful :). Sam & Kate's bus ride is 1 hour each way.

I mentioned to Ron that Ann Sather's on Belmont has fabulous Swedish breakfasts and for pizza try Lou Malnati's (more than one location). My two favorites I miss from living in the city. I hope you try them sometime.

My hometown is probably 90 minutes from you, called Watseka. If we have a few weeks this summer there I'll email to see if we can meet up somewhere.

Hello to the rest of the Goettlers!