Category: Hobbies

Reluctantly, I’m giving up on overwintering tender perennials indoors

By September the sweet potato vines had spilled a foot or two down the sides of the railing planters on my balcony, creating a dense cascade of lime green leaves.  The plants were flourishing too well to let die when cold arrived. Of course I had to bring them inside to overwinter.  “If you have... Read more »

In containers, creeping charlie is not a weed

In containers, creeping charlie is not a weed
“My definition of a weed,” the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Tim Johnson wrote in his Chicago Tribune gardening column, “is a plant that is growing where it is not wanted.” I had started to compose a post that began the same way: The best definition of a weed is anything that grows where you don’t want... Read more »

The Great American Read and other book lists

For a reader and lover of lists, the Great American Read is a double delight. The upcoming eight-part PBS series will feature the 100 novels apparently most loved by Americans. It premieres May 22 on WTTW. The list is already online at, where you can take a quiz to see how many of the... Read more »

Wordnesia strikes when playing Scrabble

My friend Sandie and I were playing Scrabble, as we do every Tuesday, and I blanked on spelling annul. Two n’s or two l’s? Another time I juggled the u and e in fuel back and forth. I spent my career in the word business and am a decent speller. How is it then that... Read more »

It took a while before blogging became a passion

This is my 100th post on ChicagoNow. At some point during the year and a half I’ve been writing this blog, it dawned on me that I’m not having to motivate myself to produce a post. That I’m going through my days being alert for experiences and observations that might grow into a post. An... Read more »

Planning cold-weather protection for potted plants

Last year I groused about not succeeding with container gardening on a high-rise balcony. (“Sure is hard to garden up high in shade and wind.”) The annuals — coleus and impatiens mostly — didn’t grow or outright died in the railing planters. In the balcony floor planters, the perennials looked more promising, provided they survived the winter.... Read more »

It’s okay to quit doing what you don’t like

When I was younger, I used to feel bad when a new activity didn’t stick. It doesn’t bother me much anymore. Reading retirement advice has helped me get over feeling like a dilettante. The authors recommend giving lots of different things a try, since you can’t really know whether something’s for you unless you try... Read more »

Sure is hard to garden up high in shade and wind

Wait till next year. No, I’m not predicting that disappointed Cubs fans will be saying that again after this year’s season. I’m talking about finding annual plants that will grow in my railing planters. Sitting in the living room and looking out at the balcony, you’d think the boxes hanging on the balcony railings weren’t... Read more »

Social history: an easy and rewarding way to do genealogy

Genealogy can be a very rewarding hobby. I’ve enjoyed it on and off for 40 years and recently sent the fourth update of the family history to relatives. But for me, it’s not names and dates that make the hobby meaningful. They tell me little about what I came from. The meaningful information was found... Read more »