My Commonplace Blog

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The Sentimental Season

hog dog

I really don’t know how to grade this.

Technical fail: Hot dogs have all kinds of not-good-for-you things in them. Ingredients and whatever that one is really not supposed to eat, or at least eat in very limited quantities. And I don’t really like hot dogs except at this time of year.

Heartfelt pass: It’s a combination of season and sentimentality. Grilled hot dogs in the summer with the grand trio of yellow mustard, ketsup, and relish. Can’t say no. And I’m just snobby enough to insist on Hebrew National (Costco!).

And last week while I was in Chicago, I made the pilgrimage to Portillo‘s and did the full-on Chicago-style. So the annual rise above the recommended levels of hot dog consumption has begun. When my mother was elected village clerk (very much a part-time position), I was a pre-schooler. She took me to the office on Fridays, and we’d often go to Portillo’s for lunch. I distinctly remember standing at the window of the ‘dog house’ to place my order.

The nostalgia cools as soon as the days begin to noticeably shorten; I rarely have a hot dog between August and May. Until then, I’ll just enjoy.


Peace Out

Peace Road

Is the trip about 300 miles or is it a 328-mile (or insert odometer reading here) trip? That distinction without a difference has generated much conversation over many years about scores of trips along essentially the same route.

The difference is in driving styles. And this trip provided a striking contrast. Going to the cousins gathering, my brother choose a route that took two tollways, two four-lane highways, a quick dogleg between a tollway and a highway, and a few side streets. My brother has always been a car guy. I suggested a route, obviously ignored, that involved two four-lane highways and the bare minimum of side streets. Ahem. He couldn’t understand why I suggested that route, I couldn’t understand why he made the trip so complicated.

I was stopping at my goddaughter’s home on the way out of town; my brother’s suggested routes weren’t complicated but numerous — how to get around construction, highways vs. tollways, avoiding traffic (I was leaving during the Monday morning rush), etc.

Traffic be damned, I took two-four lane highways to the tollway, straight into construction. As traffic thickened, doubt arose. But I rocked the roadways, making excellent time. Then there was getting from the goddaughter’s house to home. Again, many options were offered. That seems to be very much a Chicago thing; drives the hubs (pun intended) nuts. All the better he wasn’t with me this trip.

Fortunately, she offered the perfect route: Plank Road turns into Peace Road which connects to the tollway. Mid-morning drive along a rural two-lane highway. Blue skies, green fields, and just the right amount of gentle turns and rolling hills; nothing could be more peaceful.

I may be related to my brother by blood, but I’m clearly related to my goddaughter in spirit.

(image from Google Maps)






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