Ten Best Days of 2015

First Layer Complete: The Attic is Done!

Since we first began work on our house, the attic has been a tremendous pain in the butt to clean and clear. In the early days I would suit up with all manner of protective gear. By the end of it though, I went up there and just took a bath in the muck without even blinking.

The attic was our longest-running project and the first “completed” area in our house. It may not seem like much, but it was a huge milestone for me and Liz.

Backyard Clearing and Sod Installation in Four Days: Jungle to Lawn, as an Animated GIF

Oh boy, the backyard! Left unattended for many years prior to our arrival, we also chose to let the yard go through its cycle of jungle-like growth for the first year.

In 2015 however, we pulled the trigger and hired landscapers to come and clear the crazy wilderness. This involved a bulldozer, a crew of workers, and several palettes of sod that we installed ourselves, by hand.

Here’s the animated GIF of the whole process, start to finish. But make sure to follow the related links on that page. You can see how crazy it was at the beginning and also how much better it looked, once we got done.

Visiting the Christiana Lake House, Day 2: Kayaking and Bridge Jumping

I had heard many stories about the fabled lake house in Michigan, and got my chance to visit this year. Though I had a shameful showing the day we arrived (I had a lot to drink, and went to bed early)… I redeemed myself a bit on Saturday.

The best part of the visit was a long kayak trip we took, and a small little bridge we encountered along the way.

Villanelle Bot: Poems in the Villanelle Form, Created Using Random Posts from Twitter

I’m a big fan of poetry, and I also like to code. So this was a fun “worlds colliding” moment, where I found myself trying to quantify the ideal number of syllables/words per line in a villanelle.

Having made just two prior Twitter bots, I feel that @VillanelleBot has been the most complex so date. In particular, I’m quite proud of the fact that I was able to work in enjambment into the logic and the rhymes.

Bruges, Day 2

In late August, Liz and I headed overseas. The first part of our trip we undertook alone, with the two of us visiting Amsterdam and Bruges.

What made this day special was us avoiding the touristy parts of Bruges, finding a hidden bar, sampling tons of chocolate, walking around the perimeter of the town, and having a fantastic meal at a place that was unassumingly named Tom’s Diner.

Bruges, Day 3 – Paris, Day 1

While this day also included lots of chocolate and a kind of hidden pub, I recall it fondly because of the fact that we trekked to meet up with Michelle, Mike, Meg, and Josh in Paris.

Our whole trip overseas began, actually, was the result of a discussion between Liz, Meg, and Michelle. What began as a whimsical notion ended up with us all sharing an apartment in Paris in September.

That first night was something that Liz and I had looked forward to for many months: lots of bread, lots of cheese, lots of wine. And lots of good company.

Paris, Day 5: Les Puces de Vanves Flea Market, Evening Concert at Sainte Chapelle

This was an action-packed day for us in Paris. We all woke up early and went to a Flea Market, spending several hours browsing. Liz and I have gone to our fair share of flea markets, but this one was fun in both its strangeness and familiarity.

Most notably, I encountered a woman who was selling coffee to everyone, carting around a whole host of carafes and thermoses. I used my limited French to buy coffee from her, and spent the remainder of the morning holding my small cup of coffee like it was a trophy I had won at a marathon.

Later that night, Liz and I attended a small and private concert inside Sainte Chapelle, listening to a cellist play Bach. A tremendous and incredible day.

Powerwashing the Basement

This is another one of those moments that really mean more to me and Liz than they might to others. It’s a seemingly mundane thing, but this was a huge milestone for us.

We’ve had a lot of to-do items on our list, in terms of our work on the house. And the idea that we would “powerwash the basement” was always something that was really far down on that list. It was always something that seemed really far away, an event that could only take place after a great deal of work.

While there’s definitely more for us to do with the house, actually being able to powerwash the basement was just a huge step for us.

Chicago Pinball Expo, 2015

The last time I went to the Chicago Pinball Expo was back in 2010. But I’m so glad that Chris called me up and invited me out, as I had a total blast.

Starting the day with Superdawg, then filling the remainder of the day with pinball and pitstops at the hotel bar… it’s a day worth remembering. For every year I’ve missed attending, I think to myself that I should really make a point to attend the following year. And for every year I actually go, I remember just how damn fun it is.

I’m reminded now that we met a couple named Erin and Ryan. I wonder of those two ever finished their work on that house, and whether it’s listed yet.

Halloween in Hyde Park

I’m a huge fan of Halloween. I used to dress up ever year, but the spirit has left me the past few seasons.

After the trick-or-treaters stopped coming to our door, Liz suggested we hop in the car and go check out Harper Avenue – an area in Hyde Park that is known for how into Halloween they get, as an entire block.

I was totally not prepared for what we encountered: throngs of people, lines of children, and a large, mechanical spider that would spit candy into everyone’s bags.

I felt like Scrooge being shown the meaning of Christmas. It was awesome to see so many children (and adults) wandering around happy and excitied. And made me want to up my Halloween game for our house in 2016.