Monday, August 27, 2007

RPGG meeting 8/28

Here's the latest from Rogers Park Garden Group:

Melina Kelson-Podolsky has spent a lifetime learning about and practicing good cooking. Born into a family of food writers and restaurant critics, her experience in the world of diverse dining began early and was enhanced with a palate broadened by world travel and farm work. She is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef and a Certified Sous Chef through the ACF and an active member of the Bread Baker’s Guild. In April 2007, Melina become one of the youngest Certified Master Bakers in the U.S., a title held by only 150 bakers. Melina has committed herself to advancing sustainable agriculture and culinary practices and has been working within her community to implement her ideas. Location: Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Room (2nd floor), Greenview & Greenleaf.

mosquito spraying again tonight and tomorrow

The Chicago Dept. of Health sent an e-mail notice that they will be doing mosquito spraying again on Monday 8/27 and Tuesday 8/28 from dawn to dusk. This does NOT affect Rogers Park, but may affect you if you are out and about in other areas of the city.

TONIGHT (7:00 p.m. Mon. 8/27 to dawn Tues. 8/28):
Far South/Southeast/Southwest** most of the city that is located south of 83rd Street

** area roughly bounded by the city limits on the north, North Ave. (1600N) on the south, Kostner (4400W) on the east, and the city limits on the west.

TOMORROW NIGHT (7:00 p.m. Tues. 8/28 to dawn Wed. 8/29):


** area bounded by Diversey (2800N) on the north, Cullerton (2000S) on the south, Halsted (800W) on the east, and Central Park (3600W) on the west.

** much of the city that is located south of Cermak (2200S), north of 83rd Street, and west of Wentworth (200W)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

for your garden: bulb sales

Bulbs are popular in the garden catalogs right now. There are some big local sales as well.

The Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe) will be hosting the Bulb Bazaar at from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 30. More than 200 varieties will be available, including many suitable for indoor forcing. Volunteers and experts will offer advice. See the catalog online at or call 847-835-5440 for more information.

Also check out the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee’s Fall Mum and Bulb Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Hyde Park Shopping Center, 55th St. and Lake Park Ave. 773-241-6943 or (click on "Committees" and then "Garden fair").

Thursday, August 23, 2007

BP backs down

Today's good news: BP has agreed to stay within the limits of its current discharge permit, rather than increasing its discharge of ammonia and sludge into Lake Michigan. After initial insistence that the increased discharge was necessary, then a hint that they might reconsider, this news is very welcome. A big thumbs up to everyone who wrote or participated in a protest to help make this happen!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

saving public transit

This CTA news is yet another reminder that our state legislature is still failing us. Mayor Daley is stepping up and pushing for a sales tax increase to pay for the level of transit service that our local economy needs. Some of our legislators have pursued this option for a while.

If funding is not in place in the next few weeks, we're looking at these fare increases and these service cuts. BTW, if you weren't following the earlier rounds of this nasty game, the routes at the bottom of the service cut page were on the original list but have been restored in this latest version.

Public transit makes it possible for many Chicago residents to live car-free. Many of those who do not currently have cars cannot afford all the costs of owning and maintaining them. We do not have enough room on many streets for more cars.

Meanwhile, there have been hints about fare increases and service cuts at Pace and Metra starting soon. What most folks don't realize is that Metra has already made some cuts. Rush hour service is unaffected. However, the number of cars that are open on night and weekend cars has been reduced in many cases. A UP-Northwest line run that I often take at night is now running with 1 or 2 cars open, instead of the previous 3. Some evening/late night Rock Island runs are running with one less car now. This means fuel savings (lighting and ventilation systems) and fewer conductors. Trains are more crowded and much noisier.

Next Tuesday 8/28 there will be a rally in support of transit funding and reform at the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph in downtown Chicago) starting at 11:30 a.m. Whether or not you can get to the rally, please contact your legislators and voice your support for transit funding and reform before we've lost service that may be difficult to restore. Our city and our jobs depend on it.

getting rid of lakes that shouldn't be there

All the recent rain has created a lot of new lakes in the neighborhood due to clogged sewer drains and other issues. Some of them smell like raw sewage. Thanks to Fargo Woman for the following contact info:

49th Ward Sanitation office 312-744-0940
Sanitation Inspector Mike Ericson.

You may have better luck in getting those lakes to go away if you contact his office directly rather than calling Joe Moore's office.

more rabid bats

More rabid bats have been found in Cook County. Be careful out there.

Garfield Park plant clinic

Weekend Plant Information Clinic
Saturdays and Sundays (throughout the year)
Hours: Drop in between 11 am - 4 pm
Where: Conservatory Front Lobby
Cost: Free

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners are available in the Conservatory's front lobby to look at your plants or just answer questions Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am - 4 pm. Drop by with your plant or questions. Or you can call in your questions to (773) 265-9587, fax them to (773) 265-9588, or email questions to wolfordr at mail.aces.uiuc dot edu

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

FSBO gone wrong

There were so many quirky things about this FSBO gone wrong that I'd bet the attorneys' fees easily eclipsed what the buyer would have paid a realtor in fees. Oops!

another one bites the dust

The Joe Blog is gone. Bummer!

Community meeting TONIGHT about Gale Community Center

The new Gale Park community center at Howard & Marshfield is getting closer to completion. It should be open early next year.

It will be a Chicago Park District facility. The North of Howard Parks Advisory Council is working with the Park District to choose programs for the center.

What would you like to see there? Basketball? Other sports? Art and craft classes? Dance classes? Senior citizen programs? Summer youth camp?

Now's the time to put in your $0.02 worth:

Tuesday, August 21st
7:00 p.m.
Howard Area Community Center
7648 N. Paulina Street

Glenwood Arts fest this weekend

What: The Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest (GAAF) is a free, weekend-long event that features artists, open studios and live entertainment on three outdoor stages. Painting, fiber arts, jewelry, pottery and other art forms will be exhibited. Experience art, theater, music, as well as food and drink, on the cobblestone streets of the Glenwood Avenue Arts District in Chicago’s historic Rogers Park neighborhood.

NEW: Due to growth and popularity with artists and the public, the Fest expands onto Morse Avenue this year, accommodating more artists, adding a third stage and adding more KidFest activities.

Morse Music Stage
Presented by: Morseland & RE/MAX NorthCoast

Saturday, August 25th

12:00 DJ Mr. D
1:00 The Sarah Potenza Band
2:00 Soul Reys (funk)
3:00 Room One One (r&b)
4:00 Peven Everett (soul)
5:00 Treologic (hip-hop)
6:30 Chicago Afrobeat Project

Sunday, August 26th

12:00 DJ Serpico (funk, old soul)
1:00 Souvenirs (rock)
2:00 Git Gone Boys (rockabilly)
3:00 Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls (jazz)
4:00 Lowdown Brass band (brass)
5:00 Zutano (latin)
6:30 Bumpus (funk)

North Music Stage
Presented by: Heartland Café & Red Line Tap

Saturday, August 25th

12:00 Micki Croisant (singer songwriter)
12:45 Vintage (modern acoustic rock)
1:45 Lamajamal (gypsy/surf/jazz/jam)
3:00 The Theo Ubigue Theater (songs from upcoming musical, Cabaret)
4:00 The Locals (indie rock)
4:50 The Reptoids (hard rock/punk)
5:40 Roundeye (punk/rock)
6:30 Secret Agent Bill (punk/alternative/ska)

Sunday, August 26th

12:00 In One Ear (spoken word and poetry)
1:00 Ripley Caine (singer songwriter)
2:00 MWC – (jam/funk/jazz/reggae)
3:00 Animate Objects (hip hop/funk/rap)
4:00 Princes of the Futa (world music)
5:00 The Henhouse Prowlers (bluegrass)
6:00 Pete Special of Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows (blues)

South Performance Stage
Presented by: Lifeline Theatre and Duke’s BarSaturday, August 25th

12:00 Mandin Djaliah Kilombo (African drums)
12:30 Jason Kollum (circus arts)
1:00 West African All Star Dancers
1:15 Lifeline Theatre (excerpts)
1:30 The Revelettes (go-go dance)
1:45 BoHo Theatre Co. (excerpts)
2:00 Baba Manouche
3:00 Sara (belly dance)
3:30 The Space Movement Project (dance)
4:00 Strawdog Theatre: the Game Show Show (original games & live music)
5:00 Old #8 (country rock)
6:00 Mudflapps (traditional Americana)
7:00 Eric McCabe Band (blues)

Sunday August 26th:
12:00 Mandin Djaliah Kilombo (African drums)
12:30 Tag-a-Long Puppet Theater
1:30 Lifeline Theatre (excerpts)
1:45 BoHo Theatre Co. (excerpts)
2:00 Dimestore Stringband (bluegrass)
3:00 Enchantment Productions (belly dance)
3:30 R&D Choreography (stage combat)
4:00 West Indian Folk Dance Company
4:30 Irreverence Dance + Theatre
5:00 The Hormones (Ramones Tribute)
6:00 Tom Holland and the Shuffle Kings (blues)
7:00 Jah Lenn and Traffic Harmony (reggae and world music)

# # #

For more info: (773) 262-3790,

Monday, August 20, 2007

recycle in your garden

Here are two good ways you can recycle in your garden: composting and mulching with newsprint.

It's not too late to start a compost bin this year. Kitchen waste (fruit and veggie peels and non-seed parts, egg shells, tea leaves, etc.) can be mixed with yard waste (grass clippings, broken up tree branches, leaves, dried up flowers) and newsprint (non-slick pages) to make a great nutrient booster for your plants and trees. You can build your own compost bin, or buy one. The city of Chicago periodically has them available for Chicago residents at a subsidized price. Look for announcements in the local papers (usually in spring) or on the city's Dept. of Environment web page.

I got one of the city bins last summer. It got a slow start. I found that the compost needed to be turned regularly (once a week or more) and needed a certain level of moisture for things to decompose quickly. Turning the pile with a pitchfork or hoe or shovel can be challenging unless you have a fair amount of upper body strength. When I got a compost turner tool, it made the job a LOT easier (5 minutes with the tool, compared to 20-30 minutes with a shovel) and speeded up the process of decomposition by about 5 times. One trick I learned was to rinse the tool afterwards to keep it from getting clogged. I do this over the bin, adding moisture to help the materials rot.

When I pull weeds, I hold a bunch together and cut them with scissors before adding them to the compost bin so that they rot quicker. I crumple dry leaves up and break or cut small branches into pieces. Whatever you add rots faster if you shred it or break it into smaller bits. This is true for newsprint as well. BTW, the newer inks now used in newsprint are often soy-based and generally use non-toxic pigments, unlike the inks used years ago.

One warning: do NOT include seeds when you're adding to your compost bin. Unless your compost gets really hot, it will not kill the seeds, and you'll be spreading them wherever you spread your compost. If seeds are from an invasive weed, it could get everywhere fast.

Now that the compost is rotting fast, I've got a ready supply of black gold for the garden. My strawberries had stopped producing at the end of June. I put compost around the base of each plant and watered well. Within a week, the plants had new flowers on them. Now I'm eating strawberries again. Plants that were looking so-so are doing a lot better with the addition of compost. Of course, regular watering is a key piece of the equation.

You can use newsprint as mulch. Lay 3 or 4 sheets over an area, either around existing plants or poking holes where you'll plant new ones. It helps keep weeds from getting light to grow. You can add a light layer of damp leaves or bark mulch on top to hold it down and make it look nicer. Use a thicker layer of newsprint to kill grass in areas where you want to later remove grass for new flower or veggie beds.

Newsprint can also be used to make starter pots for seeds.

It's cool to be able to recycle and grow things at the same time.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rabid bat alert (updated)

Animal Control put out an alert yesterday about an incident that happened this week in the neighborhood. On Monday someone found a bat in their 3rd floor apartment on the 7400 block of Hoyne. They called 311. Animal Control came to remove the bat.

The bat was DOA at Animal Control HQ. It was sent to a lab for rabies testing, per normal procedure. The bat tested positive for rabies. This is the 6th rabid bat found in Cook County in 2 weeks. Rabies is not unusual in wild animals, especially at this time of year, but it's a good idea to take a few precautions. Please have your pets vaccinated for rabies. Don't handle dead animals. If you find a living wild animal that if injured or confined, or a dead animal, don't touch it. Call 311 for help or instructions on safe disposal of a dead animal.

** UPDATE ** I talked to a friend on the block and found out that a second bat was found there. Guess how people on the block found out about the bats? A woman spotted a Sheriff's Dept. car and asked the deputy what was going on. The deputy gave her some of the alert flyers and asked her to share them with the neighbors. The flyer text was the source for the above precautions. She told my friend, who broadcast the info via e-mail to many folks in the neighborhood and to the alderman's office. The alderman's office later took credit for making the information known when it was broadcast later in another round of e-mails to more folks in the neighborhood, including the originator of the message. ** An e version of the old game of Telephone...

public meetings about property proposals

There are 2 upcoming meetings about proposed changes to properties in Rogers Park.

This coming Monday night, Jami and Suzanna Ali of 1215 W. Sherwin, will present their proposal to lease the public way (the parkway) in front of their building to allow for the perpindicular parking of four vehicles. They recently did a condo conversion of their building, but units have been hard to sell due to lack of off-street parking. The 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee voted to recommend that Joe Moore oppose the lease application. The Committee did not believe that any other residential area in the city has allowed this type of parkway cut-out. They were concerned that it could set a bad precedent for future projects. The meeting is Monday, 8/20 at 7:00 p.m. at Sherwin Manor nursing home, 7350 N. Sheridan Road.

On Monday 8/27, Ayman Khalil and Kareem Musawwir of Inverbrass Funds, LLC, will present their proposal to rehab a "four-plus-one" apartment building at 6610-28 N. Sheridan Rd., requesting approx. $2M from the Sheridan/Devon TIF District to do it. They would reduce the number of units in the building from 140 to 116, and would do a major rehab of the building façade. The building would remain rental. 70 units would be affordable to individuals or families earning at least 80% of area median income, and 26 units would be affordable to individuals or families earning at least 60% of area median income. The meeting is Monday, 8/27 at 7:00 p.m. at Simpson Center, 6333 N. Winthrop (SE corner of Winthrop and Sheridan).

If you want more information or would like to put in your $0.02, there's your opportunity.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

spam nastiness

I've heard through the grapevine that someone we know got a nasty scare. Glad to hear that it was a hoax and not a legitimate threat. On a related note, I happened to be reading a recent New Yorker article about spam on the train today. It makes reference to an especially ugly new form of this garbage: death threat spam. (Note: This is near end of article - click earlier link for full article.)

BP to reconsider

This week's news about increased pressure on BP's refinery expansion plans and today's update that they may reconsider has been welcome.

Towards the end of the article, there's a quote that makes me wonder whether this guy was misquoted or if his priorities are actually that twisted. David Ullrich, former EPA bigwig, who is now director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (advocacy group of the region's mayors) is quoted as saying "There will be a day when water is more important than gasoline."

Huh? Our bodies and those of most living beings on earth can't survive without water. We don't require gasoline to physically exist. I sure hope that was a misquote, otherwise this guy is in the wrong job.

But back to BP....apparently the underlying issue is that BP's existing land does not have enough room for expansion of the water treatment plant to treat discharge to eliminate the increased pollution that would come from their refinery expansion. If they're reconsidering on the pollution issue, perhaps they can come up with a revised plan. It seems we've gotten their attention.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

$54M pants tale continues

Apparently the judge who sued the dry cleaner is a sore loser and doesn't want to pay the cleaners' attorneys' fees for the lawsuit. Somehow I don't have much sympathy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday funny

Here's a very punny news story from the Trib - how a wiener can be a loser. TGIF.

tree watering

A couple of sources that I've read recently give a reminder about watering to keep your trees healthy during dry times in summer. Trees need enough moisture to prevent drought stress, otherwise they are more vulnerable to disease, insect problems or death.

A regular sprinkler does not water a tree efficiently and wastes a lot of water. Use a soaker hose instead. Start with a wrap around the trunk, working outward in circles towards the edge of the tree canopy (otherwise known as the drip line). Give the tree a good soak for about 2 hours per week. The soaker hose will let the water go just where it's needed, without a lot of evaporation or runoff to the street. Your tree will stay healthier.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

CPD and the city

I was surprised that no one commented on this issue. Your $0.02?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

1640-42 Fargo update

Sorry, I should have posted on this earlier. Something's finally happening at 1640-42 Fargo. You might not guess it from the front unless you notice the building permit in one of the windows.

However, the back is a different story. This view is from the Rogers side of the property, where the garage and back porches have been demolished. Given the sketchy history of this property in recent years (half-occupied run-down rental with bad tenants, then long-vacant building providing easier access to break into an adjacent building), I hope that the city inspectors do their jobs so that it doesn't become another shoddy condo conversion nightmare.

Stay tuned...

Norm's garden

Thanks to Norm for helping to keep the block beautiful.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

African Harambee

We've got a new restaurant open in the neighborhood, African Harambee (7537 N Clark St., 773-764-2200). Hours: Sunday-Thursday: noon-10 p.m. ; Friday-Saturday: noon-11 p.m.

Lorraine Dostal was kind enough to write a review and share it with this blog, so here it is.

I had dinner with a close friend at African Harambee next door to Amphora (formerly Gateway Bar & Grill) on Clark Street just south of Howard.

Review = Yummy.

Most of the menu seems to be stew-like things - African comfort food - curry and coconut sauces and middle eastern accents....the meat dishes come with beef or chicken or lamb. I love lamb. Lots of seafood presentations too. Ask the servers for advice. The veggie section also seems stew like. We had some of the cabbage and some of the spinach as sides with our entrée choices. Couscous or rice and african flat breads.....the little pepper icons seem to mean "flavorful and exotic" not "hot-hot-hot-wow!" But please check with the server about that matter. (I suggested a veggie sampler plate - for those who can't commit to picking one dish only....the owner seemed receptive....perhaps if there is a popular outcry?) We shared a lamb curry (pepper icon but mild) and a shrimp & tilapia dish in coconut sauce (mild).

We had the "chicken egg rolls" for appetizer - crispy filo-like wrapping around tasty chicken with no "starchy filler," just meat. Dessert was also a crispy filo like wrapping around nuts (cashew/almond) and dried fruit with drizzle of chocolate and berry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream...o yum...perhaps not what your average African family has for dessert but boy was that nice.....

The restaurant is fresh and open and air conditioned....The staff is soft-spoken and gentle and happy to explain what the food is all about. They have a liquor license (just got it ) and expect to have African beers and wines....Entree prices were $10-$12-$15. Not bad. I will go back again and try more different things, like the beef kifto, chicken peanut stew, and more lamb. Yum!

Public announcement - You all know about the rate of "small business failure". This is not just a problem in Rogers Park. It is the nature of the capitalist system. It takes a lot of effort and hard work and up-front $$$$ to just open the front door and say "hello". If the customers don't show up, the business folds. The owner takes a risk and the next thing you know, his money is all gone and the doors are locked. EAT AFRICAN FOOD! Go back again. They open for lunch at noon.

O yes - plenty of know. There is a very big parking lot.

Support the small independent businesses in Rogers Park - especially beautiful downtown Jargowood and the nearby areas where our close neighbors and friends hope that their corner restaurant/coffee shop/store can make a success....any one can get coffee at Starbucks and dinner at Applebee's or Bennigan's. We have Charmers and (insert local coffee shoppe here) and African Harambee and Amphora and Taste of Peru...and a ton of Thai and Mexican can eat locally and globally at the same time - what a concept!


Thanks, Lorraine!

rainy morning

Friday, August 03, 2007

on blogging and civility

A while back, I was reading a few items online about blogging and civility. I bookmarked them, with the thought of writing a post on it, hoping that there would be no pressing need to address the issue. Unfortunately, things have gotten a lot worse since then.

I wouldn't go so far as to advocate a formal set of rules, as some have done. Across the blogosphere, this idea has generated discussion and more discussion. I agree with its general intention, but not with all the details.

During the initial 49th ward aldermanic campaign and the run-off, many of us have said and done what we thought necessary to work for change and a fair election on 4/17. I've occasionally had second thoughts about how I've phrased postings or comments. None of us are perfect. That being said, I'm disappointed that the dialogue between the various Rogers Park blogs has continued to deteriorate, getting uglier each week. I wouldn't have thought it possible after how ugly things got during the election campaigns.

While I do not agree with everyone's viewpoint, I'd rather agree to disagree than make personal attacks. I'd prefer not to say something unless it's something I would consider a fair criticism if directed at me.

I'd like to take a short break to think on the subject. Meanwhile, I'll offer more reading on it. The Well is one of the oldest online forums. Their moderator guidelines are here. Here's another response about the draft blogger's code, with links for additional responses, and a San Francisco Chronicle column that makes some relevant points on the topic.

Why is it necessarily for some folks to personally attack each other in order to express their views about what is happening in Rogers Park? Is their need to vent so compelling that any consequences of their words become irrelevant? Remember the "broken window" theory? Well, we've got a whole lot of broken windows on the RP blogs right now, broken with words, not stones.

There is often a fine line between criticism (constructive or otherwise) and attack. Saving one's posts or composing comments offline, waiting a while (a few hours, a day, a week), then reviewing them before posting, can act as birth control to keep hasty, angry words from hatching into hornets.

What motivated you to start blogging and/or commenting? Are you still motivated by the same reasons, or has that changed due to your experiences on that blogs? Please do comment.

I'll be back soon.

the changing face of downtown Evanston

The proposals for the Fountain Square block in downtown Evanston are generating a bit of controversy. No big surprise there.

The two competing proposals would raze most or all of the existing buildings on the block, replacing them with a high-rise mixed-use tower. I know that Evanston is hungry for more tax money, but so much high-rise development in recent years has radically changed the character of downtown Evanston.

I think that's a mixed bag. On the positive side, it is transit-oriented development, all within walking distance of the downtown CTA, Pace and Metra stations, and it supports a wider range of restaurants and entertainment venues. On the other hand, this is all expensive development, and it draws a lot more cars to downtown Evanston. Guess what, folks? They may be incorporating parking into these new structures, but the streets aren't getting any wider.

Transit and bicycle access save this increased density from sinking due to traffic jams. Whenever the city finally gets around to implementing its long-promised bicycle plan (striped bike lanes and marked shared routes), it will help. However, it may all implode if the state budget crisis is not resolved and the RTA does not receive the funding it needs to continue operating without severe service cuts. Under the latest doomsday scenario, fares would increase, purple line express service (from Howard to the Loop) and most Evanston bus service would be eliminated. Imagine what downtown Evanston could look like with a fraction of its current transit service and a new 500-foot tower? Not a pretty picture.


The invasion has begun. *sigh* Wouldn't it be nice to have a summer weekend to be able to enjoy downtown and the lakefront without a huge festival overrunning everything and clogging the streets and the trains with too many people?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

BP update

When I read about the EPA's refusal to reconsider allowing BP to go ahead with increased dumping of ammonia and sludge into Lake Michigan, it was a rude slap in the face, another reminder that we're still deep in the unethical heart of Shrubland. Anything goes as long as the oil companies make more money.

At least King Richie has a spine on this issue.

What's wrong with this picture, folks? How can an agency whose stated purpose is to protect the environment say that it's okay to pollute more?

I hope that things don't get much worse before the next election, and that enough votes are cast by people who have both a brain and a conscience to turn this misguided ship around.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

interactive cell phone map

Someone was complaining a recent post about their poor cell phone service in Rogers Park. I've found that it varies quite a bit depending on who your carrier is and what phone you're using. Of course, right along the lake is probably a coverage black hole for all of us.

I got turned on to this nifty little interactive cell phone signal map. Add your mark(s) indicating your carrier, phone and typical signal strength in that spot and see what other folks have posted about their service.