Blog Archive

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dorothy's Night Plan

Well, after chilling with Dorothy for a while, she came up with a plan for how to get off the street tonight without staying at my house. We went to Mrs. Ribs' house and they loaned me $10, which I'll pay back tomorrow. Dorothy knows somebody on Hermitage who rents space for a night for $10, so she's going over there.

There was just one minor hitch. Cops. When we went out to cross the street and talk to Mrs. Ribs, there was a police car at the end of the block, in front of the house where she had left her stuff (where all the drama had been going on earlier). But after a bit of watching, both of us concluded they were probably after some young kids (hope not any I know--I couldn't see well and didn't want to stare) and not searching the house where her stuff was.

We went back in the house and waited a little while, then I went out and looked down the street. The coast was clear. I wished her luck, walked her out and locked the gate behind her.

Oldest Brady Boy's High School Applications

Here are some excerpts from Oldest Brady Boy's drafts of his applications for the Noble Network schools.

For the teacher who helped him, he wrote about his social studies teacher, who had him stay after school when he failed the Constitution test on the first try. She worked with him after school to make sure he knew what he needed to know, and on the second try, he passed. "Today I feel confident because I have a good teacher I can trust. She helps me on things that I don't know."

His best one was about how Peter Pan helped him learn how to be a goalie on their soccer team at Davis Square Park. I can't quote from his draft because it was so good he didn't have to rewrite it much, so I don't have the copy any more.

At first, Oldest Brady hated playing goalie because he didn't know how to do it. He would cry when the other team scored on him. Peter Pan showed him how to block, how to throw the ball back out to get it away from the goal after an attempt, and told him that the goalie is the most important person on the team, so he should be proud to play the position. They won their division last year and made it to the finals this year.

And my fans from the Museum of Science and Industry would probably like to know that he wrote about our trip to the museum in his third essay, which was about somebody in the community who has helped him out. It's a little weird proofreading an essay about yourself, but whatever it takes to get this kid into high school, right? My favorite part of this essay was his honest confession, "When I needed help filling out my applications for high schools, she was the one who helped me. I'm really happy because I got that over with."

Chilling with Dorothy

Dorothy is stuck for a place to stay this weekend. She's shifting from the place where she did her 28-day program to a longer-term facility, but somehow there's no place for her to stay this weekend. She explained this to me in a big rush and I'm not sure I understood it really well. She called me yesterday when I was on the Red Line at 47th to say she needed someone to vouch for her that she could pay some guy $10 to stay in his shop for the night. I got on the phone and told him I was good for it.

She came by this afternoon. It's on the line between rain and snow today, really ugly weather. I gave her a cup of tea and the ten bucks to pay back the guy who gave her a place to stay last night. She just came back now because she thought she had worked something out with a widowed neighbor, but his daughter showed up and she's having a freakage, so Dorothy just got the heck out of there.

She washed up and helped me fold up some laundry that was sitting in the soon-to-be-no-longer spare room. Now we're just chilling until she decides to bust a move or I decide I'm going to bed. It's cold and nasty and there's no point being outside any longer than absolutely necessary. Some friends of mine who are Tattler fans may enjoy knowing I showed her the cleverly designed program from the wedding I attended yesterday. Dorothy spent a while looking at it. "That's real pretty," she said.

Dorothy is telling me about her life. She grew up around 53rd and Bishop, next to oldest of her father's six kids, oldest of her mother's. (Her father had at least one before he met her mother, she says. Sometimes it's hard to understand her, so I hope I got that right.) She went to Libby Elementary. Her dad wanted her and her siblings to learn to play instruments--she started to learn flute, her little brother played drums. But then her dad couldn't stand listening to them practice in the house, so that was the end of that. Dorothy says her uncle played guitar. We're listening to some Paraguayan guitar music now. Of her siblings, it sounds like two sisters made out all right--"they act like white girls now, spending money," she said. One brother was overseas (I don't know if that meant military service or something else)--she doesn't know if he's back or not. Another brother is locked up for 66 years, I don't know for what. I think the third brother may be around and working, I'm not sure. She has a half sister but doesn't know what's up with her.

Earlier today she told me she's known Yup-yup for 24 years. "When I met him, he wasn't like he is now," she said. I guess not.

She's worried about what she'll look like in the morning. She doesn't want to get put back into detox. "I'm trying not to look like I've been running the streets, because they'll think I've been getting high," she said. Them streets stress you out. Your eyes get red because you ain't had no sleep." She was outside all day today, walking around with no place to go. Even with a crash pad, she says she only got about four hours of sleep last night. I think she did get a nap before things got crazy wherever she thought she was staying.

I actually broke down and asked if she wanted to spend the night, but she turned me down. "Honestly, I don't feel comfortable sleeping here, because if I did people would talk about you," she said.

I swore I would never make that offer. Honestly, I know of someone who got killed offering homeless women a place to stay at night, so I don't want to go there. But I know she's going to have a place to stay as of tomorrow morning, and if she spends all night on the street that's a big temptation to use. I'm really glad she turned down my offer herself. I guess chilling with Dorothy for a while this evening is the best compromise we could come up with. She's putting her hat on. Maybe it's time to get going.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Zen of Trash Pickup

This morning I got up early and looked outside. There was a large shattered bottle of Olde English 800 all over the curb at the edge of my house, plus an unbroken beer bottle lying a few feet away. It seemed like it was time to pick up trash. I grabbed a bag, put on a jacket and went out.

Since it got cold there's a lot less trash on the street. In some ways, that makes it more enticing to pick up, because it seems less fruitless a task. Still, the only way to approach picking up trash around here is with the same mentality of a Zen monk making a sand mandala--you have to remember it's about impermanence. The result just won't last very long.

The process of picking up trash is exactly the opposite process of making a sand mandala--instead of putting together something elaborate, you're taking away as much as you can to reveal what's underneath. It's shocking how calming it is to see a few dozen yards of bare ground after picking up chip bags, broken glass, sticks, plastic cups, trial size Scope bottles (somebody was hurting for a high), flyers and circulars, old McDonald's coffee cups, and even what appeared to be a frozen pork chop. OK, I didn't actually pick that up--I kicked it like a hockey puck into the alley next to a dumpster and called it good enough.

And of course, once I was done picking up trash along the block, I went back in the house for a bit, came back out and found a gum wrapper had already blown into the patch I cleared between my house and the corner. I picked it up and headed for the dumpster, decided I wanted things to stay pristine just a few minutes longer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

This has almost nothing to do with the neighborhood, but I liked this blog meme I found courtesy of Harriet M. Welch over at spynotes, so I'm doing it. Things I have done are in bold type; stretching it a little is in italics:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (I draw now, not that it's good, but it seems fair to say it's self-taught.)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked (have been with people who picked up hitchers)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (in softball)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (indoors only)
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (sketched)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (do student films count?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (does self-employed count?)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day.

Martial Arts at St. Joseph's

Well, after talking about doing this for months, Junior's little brother and I went over to St. Joe's to check out the martial arts class offered there by the U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center. Junior's bro was among the oldest in the class, and he's about nine years old. There were some teeny-weenies there, maybe three or four year olds. They had a hard time sitting still for meditation.

JB (I'm going to call him that from now on--I've had trouble coming up with a psuedonym for him, so that will do) paid attention, sat still during opening prayer and meditation, and tried hard to keep up with the roundhouse kicks, jabs and crosses. He even struggled his way through a set of pushups. JB is a little on the heavy side and I don't think he gets too much opportunity for exercise, but you could see he really wants to do this.

We showed up in the middle of a six-week cycle, so he was at a disadvantage trying to learn everything at once. Next week the instructor says they will practice striking into pads (so far they're just throwing into imaginary targets).

I used to study karate, so watching the class got me fired up to practice a little with JB between classes. He's going to need to do it more than once a week to get anywhere. I just made a resolve to fight the battle of the bulge this winter, mostly through my downtown yuppie gym where I can swim, but maybe a little with JB, too. We'll see where this goes.

A Visit to Rehab

Last week the one thing I was able to do was visit Dorothy at her rehab program. The program she was in has visiting hours every other Thursday. I arrived to find nearly a couple hundred people sitting on folding chairs with some old white guy up front yammering on about interventions and how they often don't work. I did listen, and some of it was interesting, but I couldn't figure out why they would have someone try to give a lecture when friends and family are seeing someone they're not allowed to see very often.

When that was over, Dorothy and I talked for a while. She told me she's tried to quit "about 15 times" and she never made it past detox before. She introduced me to some of her buddies from rehab and we watched one of them with her family, including a little toddler nephew who was making us all laugh and flashing his big smile. The dad of one of them brought candy for the whole floor at Halloween, making himself very popular.

She will be changing residence soon-she may have done it already--she's moving from one program to another. Last week she told me she has eight hours off tomorrow. She's planning to visit Ms. Ribs, who promised her a plate of turkey, etc. I'm not supposed to be anywhere until later in the afternoon, so I told her to knock on my door, too. I have leftover Halloween candy I'd be happy to send back with her. It beats buying cigarettes.

Pre-Thanksgiving Update

Well, Marshfield Avenue had to get along without me for a week while I was out of town on business. Since I got back I've been scrambling to keep up on the work and home fronts (meaning housecleaning, and failing miserably), so community relations haven't been the highest priority.

But of course, when you make friends, they show up whether you wanted them to or not. So last night Junior and his little brother, plus Oldest Brady Boy, two of his sisters and his mom, all arrived on the doorstep within 15 minutes of each other. Junior needed help understanding the difference between to/two/too, your/you're and their/they're/there, which is something I have spent more than my share of time teaching people, so I couldn't say no when he asked for help. Even though the Bradys had already come by earlier asking me to help them with high school applications for Oldest Brady Boy. He's interested in the Noble Network schools, especially Rauner, since his cousins go there. I hear the Nobles will be opening three new schools next year, which will be the easiest to get into since there won't be siblings getting preference, but I don't know how to get those applications. Yet.

Oldest Brady Boy has his hands full this Thanksgiving--he has to write three 150-word essays, one for each of the Nobles for which he does have applications. Rauner asks him to talk about a teacher who has helped him succeed. The others ask about a friend (peer) or someone in the community who has helped you succeed.

Brady Mom is the first mom I've talked with who was really open about being uncomfortable writing much. She said she read the parent handbook in Spanish, but while filling out the application she was talking about how she doesn't write much and how happy she is her son can write more than she can. She did fine, though. The application was in English only, so I didn't expect she would be able to figure out how to fill it out without some explanation.

Meanwhile, Junior got his latest progress report yesterday from Golder. He has As and Bs in everything but--you guessed it--civics and physics, where he has Ds. I think he needs more help in both those subjects than he is getting. I need to email his civics teacher now to see if she has any ideas.

Supposedly Picasso, Junior and his brother are coming over tonight to make chocolate chip cookies with me. For the occasion, I just washed the kitchen floor for the first time in over a month. Let's just say I was a little embarrassed to have Brady Mom in here yesterday, but it was all fine in the end.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dorothy Called

...from Stroger Hospital. She was taken in Sunday. She had been off her medications and when she went back on them she had a strong reaction, including severe diarrhea. They are working to adjust her medicine so it helps without hurting her. She hopes to be back in drug treatment by Wednesday.

She got the things I dropped off last week. I didn't have the heart to get on her case for hanging out with Yup-yup over the phone, but I did write about it in the letter I sent her this afternoon. At least I think I did. If not I'll have to get on her about it when I go visit in a couple of weeks.

Also tonight, Picasso and Junior came over. Junior had an essay for civics. He had to take a position on the question of whether 16-year-olds should be allowed to have an "early voting permit" if they can pass a civics test. His opinion was yes, they should. Picasso paid attention even though it wasn't his homework assignment. I was glad. He read my Newsweek, too, and was cracking up at the scale they have of egregious things famous people do, which ranges from "mildly tacky" to "utterly shameless."

"So there's no good ones, right?" he said.

"That's right. They all suck," I said, drawing a laugh for my moderately bad language.

Picasso helped Junior come up with some opposing arguments to his position and we talked about how to refute them. Picasso turned in his personal narrative today, so he doesn't know yet how he did on it. I hope it comes out well. It drove me nuts when I saw his English class (Multicultural Lit or whatever they call it) was his worst grade at progress reports. He's way too smart to be getting anything below a B in an English class.

I got in touch with his teacher by email, who wondered how well he understands things, because he is very quiet in class. (He told me he doesn't like her because she has no sense of humor.) I told her that I've been working with Picasso for four years, that he is more than capable of the work, but that his life outside the classroom might be interfering with his performance. (I restrained myself from saying anything about his impression of her, since that's not going to get us anywhere.) Picasso wants to pull up his grade, so we'll see if he does what he needs to do. I intend to stay on him about it. Hopefully he'll keep hanging out with Junior, which will get him over here somewhat regularly. I was really pleased to see he paid attention even though it wasn't his homework assignment. Hopefully he learned something.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Heard on the Curb

Just a quick anecdote from yesterday--I was downtown, walking eastbound on Jackson just past the river, when one of those earnest young people soliciting for a cause tried to get my attention.

She was very well-trained: looked me in the eye, put her body right in my path, and said, "May I tell you how you can be a hero to a child today?"

I looked right back at her and said, "I'm sorry, today I have to be a hero to a crack-addicted prostitute, and that's all I have time for."

Her eyes widened. "What do you for a living?" I heard her ask over my shoulder as I kept on walking.

The extra-special irony is I wasn't kidding. I was on my way to the grocery store to get diapers for Dorothy. With luck I'll be able to drop them off later today.

I also want to get in touch with her social worker. The other day I ran into Yup-yup, who asked if she had found me. "I just put her on the bus," he said. She will never get clean if she keeps hanging out with him.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

From Grant Park to Marshfield Avenue

So I have to take a minute to report on the doings in Grant Park tonight. I saw the tall gangly speck of Barack Obama and the shorter, eager speck of Joe Biden waving to the crowd with their wives after the acceptance speech was over. They had the giant TVs, which is how I saw the speech.

CNN got shots of some local Chicago heroes, like Oprah and Jesse Jackson. I'm sure there will be pictures of Jesse with tears on his cheeks all over the place tomorrow. I saw some people I knew as they panned the crowd: Ald. Rick Munoz (22nd Ward), Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Jack Wuest, director of the Alternative Schools Network and his wife, Maria Whalen, from Voices for Illinois Children.

Connie's Pizza had the concession. They must have made a mint. South Side in da house!

After it was all over I ran into a friend I haven't seen for a long while. She's an African-American lesbian who works for a major news outlet. She put down her notepad long enough to share a big victory hug with me. "If you'd asked me five years ago, even two years ago, I would have said no way," she reflected. It made my night to run into her.

I will give Da Mare props for the speed and efficiency of getting the crowd out of there and for running plenty of trains and buses. At the Ashland Orange Line I lucked out and caught the southbound bus as it was waiting for the light to change. I talked with my seatmate, a nice younger woman who had a ticket to Grant Park but gave it up because she had to work.

When I got off the bus and walked to the corner, Yup-yup was standing around. "Hey," he said.

"Hey," I said back. "O-ba-ma!"

"O-ba-ma," he said back. We met up at the traffic circle. He gave me the fist bump and said, "Tonight, we made history." I hugged him. With Obama in office, just about anything is possible.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"That's all it takes to stay clean"

Another letter from Dorothy arrived today; hand-delivered this time and bearing excellent news. Here it is. This time I've trimmed and cleaned it up a little to keep it on point:

Dear Maritza,

Hi. I been locked up since August 15, my probation judge release me to [large well-known local drug treatment program] for 120 days, I got 28 more days but I like it and I am going to stay here and do 90 more day for recovery. I will be finished February 15. They told me that when I get out I will be on S.S.I. and have my own apartment. So any way how have you been? I miss you so much. Now I got a doctor's appointment today, so I got permission to drop this letter off to you just in case I don't see you. I am doing real good, Maritza. You will be so proud of me. I am. And my probation officer said he is, too.

They are giving me four hours to get back. That's why I decided to write this, in case you were not at home. I can't stick around to see you, hope you understand. I need this treatment. And I need you to support me, please. I can't do it without you. This is the last time I am going to try. So if you're not there to support me I give up. Anyway, here's how to write me. [gives address and phone numbers of case managers] Please write.

[She has a list of things she needs while in treatment: personal items like shampoo and deodorant, clothes, diapers, quarters for laundry. ] Ask Ms. Ribs if she could help. Now is the time. This is what you been trying to do for me all this time. Now I am doing it, please don't leave me hanging. I told them you will not let me down. If I got any mail, please mail it. Thank you so much Maritza. You be surprised how all this girls got so much help from home and support. That's all it takes to stay clean.

I love you and miss you. Keep this paper that is signed by my counselor. She wants to meet you. [She explains what to do if I come to visit.] If not, still write to me. Keep me in your prayers. When you write I will write back and tell you all about this place and my treatment and the social worker. I told everybody that you were my best friend and my only. So they said you need to know everything I am doing and what's going on with my program and health. Anyway, I know you got me. Take care.

The list of items is OKd by her counselor's signature and there were a batch of phone numbers for her and for Dorothy's case manager. I left messages. Will let you know when I know more. Wow.

A Safe Halloween for Back of the Yards

These are some photos from St. Joseph's Halloween event, co-sponsored by the church youth group and U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center. I'm happy to report that Halloween in the neighborhood this year was a safe and fun experience for the kids of Marshfield Avenue and beyond. We didn't make headlines this year. There were lots of police out. People still trick-or-treated.

Here on Marshfield, I rode my bike past Chavez Elementary as school was being dismissed, just in time to see hundreds of little kids (up to 4th grade) coming out in all their costumes. About an hour later, I came out of my house with my candy to find about ten neighbor kids waiting outside my front gate. After they got treats from me they went up to 47th Street, where the businesses were giving out candy and other treats. The famous one is the peanuts from El Guero supermarket.

Around 4:30, Junior and his brother and Picasso came by. They helped me unpack my fog machine and went to figure out how it worked. Picasso's mom was going to Cicero to spend time with her grandkids, and Picasso didn't want to go. I promised her he could stay with me and we would go over to St. Joe's and then back to my house for pizza.

The boys and I were hanging around when some of the girls from down the block came out in a big gaggle. They were going to the movie at Holy Cross. We agreed we would all go over together and stop in at St. Joe's on the way to see how the haunted house was coming along. (I had some candy to donate, too.) We ate pizza in the Holy Cross basement. Only two of us watched the movie--the rest of us were just talking and making jokes.

Afterwards we went back to St. Joe's since the haunted house was now running. Picasso told me his mom had called him to say she was home and he wanted to go home. I smelled a rat but didn't want to say so. "OK," I said. "I'll walk you home." I figured I could trust Junior and his little brother to stay put with the girls at the party.

So Picasso and I walked back together, and he told me he had forgotten to take his essay draft to school on Friday. "When we get back for the party, give it to me and I'll type it up and email it to your teacher," I said. He agreed. I was hoping this would keep him in the house for a few more minutes anyway. He does seem to want to improve his grade in English.

We got to his house and the lights were out. "Are you sure your mom is home?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said.

"OK...Well, I'll call you later when we order the pizza."

I watched him go in the house, saw some lights turn on upstairs, then called Junior's mom (they live in the same building) and told her that Picasso was home and I was going back to church to get Junior and his brother.

Turns out I was right about the rat. When we were walking back, Junior told me, "Don't trick [tell on me for saying this] but Picasso left early because he wanted to throw eggs. I was going to go too, but then I couldn't find him."

"That's because I walked him home," I said. "He said he was going to come to the party." I took out my phone. "I'll call him now and tell him we're coming. Let's see if he answers."

Junior's little brother disagreed. "No, don't do that! Then he has time to come home before we get there. You won't catch him that way."

I explained that I didn't really care about "catching him," I just wanted him to be safe and that if he had gone out and this would convince him to come back, that was fine with me. Picasso did answer the phone right away and seemed fine with the news we were on our way back.

When we arrived, I sent Junior and his brother home for a few minutes so I could straighten up. The girls from down the block were coming, too. Before I went in the house, I saw Joey and his dad talking next door. His dad was dressed up to go out: black cowboy hat, black cowboy suit, boots. He was going to Cicero for a party and was trying to persuade his son to join him. Joey wanted to go out with another boy on the block here. I don't know that kid as well but I hear he's trouble. It looked like Joey's dad was going to weasel out with some "be careful, son" comment but not do anything to prevent him taking off.

So I stuck my nosy neighbor nose smack in the middle of their chat. I took Dad aside and said, "Look, Halloween is a very dangerous night. Kids think they're going to out to throw eggs and they get shot by gangbangers. When I was teaching I had a student land in the hospital on Halloween with a gunshot wound. I'm going to have a party right here at the house. Tell Joey he has go with you or stay here with me. He's not listening to his mother but he still has some respect for you."

"There are a lot of police out," he said uncertainly. I didn't say what I was thinking--that makes it all the more likely your son will get picked up off the street and you'll be spending the night getting him out of jail.

Eventually Dad got the point and was a little more insistent with Joey. "You don't want to end up like your brother," I could hear him say in Spanish. Fortunately, I had the five plywood boards down in the basement, ready for tagging. That got Joey's attention. He and I went down to the basement and put two of them in the back yard, one for him and one for Picasso. We called Picasso and told him to come over with his spray cans. I ordered pizza. The rest of the kids showed up.

The girls ate pizza and chatted. We talked about how great it would have been if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had run as president and vice-president. (A couple of the girls were really into that idea.) Junior and his brother tried to work the used laptop their dad just got from somebody. Alas, they didn't succeed. The laptop was password protected and somehow they didn't get the right username and password written down. Joey and Picasso sprayed away on the boards out back. Some of the little kids who came with their big sisters went out to watch. When the pizza came, everyone ate. Then the older kids squished themselves together on my couch to watch YouTube videos while the younger kids drew pictures and played with my yoga ball.

At one point, Joey's dad called my cell phone to check on him. Yay!

Near the end of the night, some of the tweens wanted to figure out how the fog machine worked. Earlier Junior and Picasso briefly got it close, but they put in too much water. This time I was paying very close attention and put in the water myself, and the fog started coming out. It looked great, especially with the lights off. We called everybody down to see it. Then it was time to call it a night, about 11 p.m.

The best part was seeing Picasso and Joey go home afterwards. No eggs on the street. Nobody in jail. At least for one night. It's especially good when that one night is Halloween.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cooper's Hawk on Marshfield Avenue

This photo was taken on the 4900 block of South Marshfield less than an hour ago.

I was walking home from church and checking my phone for some reason when I heard the thump of something hitting the ground. I put away the phone and looked up to see a dead pigeon on the sidewalk under a tree. Seconds later, the bird of prey you see above swooped down and stood on it possessively. While watching, I had no idea what kind of bird it was. I just started looking around on line and now think this bird is a Cooper's hawk.

Whoda thunk Wild Kingdom would make it to Marshfield Avenue? A van pulled up and double-parked. I walked around the van and when I looked back, the birds weren't on the sidewalk anymore. The hawk had taken the pigeon over into a neighbor's yard. It started pecking at the pigeon, sending feathers flying every which way. I went home to see if I could find any young friends with whom to share the sight.

Just as I was getting home I saw Oldest Brady Boy and Brady Bughunter coming out of their house. I called to them to come see the birds and we ran up the street. They were pretty impressed. Oldest Brady had the finals of his indoor soccer season at Davis Square Park this afternoon, so he was in uniform. His mom and other brother caught up to us and we all watched the bird eat.

"Aguilar?" Mom Brady asked. "Eagle?"

Neither Oldest Brady nor I knew the word for hawk in Spanish. If any of you recognize the bird in this photo, let me know. I'd like to know what it is.

Windy Citizen Share