A FOUR-LEGGED FURLOUGH WEEKEND

Ah furloughs.

The current bane of my existence.

If it’s not stressful enough living paycheck-to-paycheck, throw in five days off unpaid and give it a whirl. (For some extra spice, we’ll add the $300 in fees my bank refuses to give me back for being less than $30 overdrawn. Yep Colonial, talking to you.)

Needless to say, stress and depression overwhelm me here and there. (And no, I don’t think myself special … I know everyone is facing a lot of the same issues.)

This past weekend was an extended one for me, as I had to take an extra day off. (Being the only Features designer at the moment, I have been “encouraged” to take my furloughs on Monday, as that is our lightest work day.) Usually, I would be jumping for joy at having to take a mini-break from work. But when there is only $23.59 in my bank account – at least I kept it in check this pay period after losing the $300 – that leaves few options for fun.

(Oh, and did I mention I couldn’t pay my cable bill yet? Yep, so no entertainment is coming from inside my apartment at the moment – unless you count all the “Friends” DVDs that have been making the silence bearable.)

Thankfully, Mother Nature smiled upon us in Chicago. A glorious 72-hour period enabled me to enjoy hours of free entertainment outside.

And my dog, Huxley, had the weekend of his life.

PARK

SATURDAY MORNING FOUND US AT PUPTOWN WITH OUR NEIGHBORS DAVID AND COMET, SEEN ABOVE. THE WONDERFUL WEATHER BROUGHT OUT DOZENS OF DOGS AND THEIR OWNERS.

PARK2

AFTER RUNNING AROUND THE PARK FOR HOURS, HUXLEY GOT TO DO ONE OF HIS FAVORITE ACTIVITIES – ROLL IN THE GRASS. (WHICH UNFORTUNATELY IS COVERED IN FALL LEAVES – I HAVE TO REMOVE THEM ALL FROM HIS FUR.) AFTERWARDS, DAVID JAZZED UP A $2.99 ALDI CHEESE PIZZA WITH PINEAPPLE AND BOCA BRATWURST FOR US TO ENJOY AS WE HUNG OUT ON HIS BACK PORCH. SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS. (AND ALWAYS LOVELY JUST TO HANG WITH NOTHING PULLING US AWAY.)

RIVIERA

SATURDAY BROUGHT HOARDS OF AFI FANS TO THE HOOD, AS THE BAND PLAYED AT THE RIVIERA. LIVING TWO DOORS DOWN FROM THE VENUE, SHOW NIGHTS HAVE BECOME HUXLEY’S DREAM. WHEN HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ARE LINED UP AROUND THE BLOCK ALL DAY, MANY OF THEM ARE WILLING TO GIVE HIM A LITTLE LOVE AS HE WALKS BY. (IN FACT, ON FRIDAY NIGHT, SOME MIDDLE-AGED MEN – THERE FOR THE BLACK CROWES – TRIPPED OVER THEMSELVES TRYING TO GET TO HIM.)

BEACH2

BEACH

SUNDAY MORNING FOUND US AT MONTROSE DOG BEACH, AS IT WAS ANOTHER LOVELY DAY. HUXLEY AND I MET MY FRIEND SHAWN – PLUS HER SISTER BRITNEY, HER BOYFRIEND TAYLOR AND THEIR DOG RUCA – FOR AN HOUR OR SO. AS I FEARED THAT OUR BEACH DAYS WERE DONE FOR THE YEAR – MY 15-POUND DOG GOES RIGHT FOR THE WATER EVERY TIME, AND MAN CAN IT GET FRIGID – IT WAS AN UNEXPECTED TREAT TO GET TO GO SO LATE IN THE SEASON.

HUXLEAVES4

PER USUAL, THERE WAS MORE ROLLING IN THE GRASS AFTER WE LEFT THE BEACH – THIS IS ACTUALLY WHERE THIS FAVORITE PASTIME OF HIS STARTED. AND YES, AFTER HUXLEY HAD ALL HIS FUN, I HAD TO PICK OUT ALL OF THE DEBRIS FROM HIS MATTED, SANDY FUR.

HUXLEY

AFTER LEAVING THE BEACH ON SUNDAY, IT WAS STRAIGHT TO SOGGY PAWS FOR US. MY FRIEND JESSICA – WHO RECENTLY MOVED TO MIAMI – LEFT FIVE WASHES FOR ME ON HER ACCOUNT. (THANKS TO HER FOR NEVER GETTING AROUND TO USING THEM!) AFTER ALL THE SAND, LEAVES, DIRT AND GRASS, HE WAS REALLY STARTING TO SMELL. AFTERWARDS THOUGH, HE WAS SOFT, SHINY AND, MORE THAN ANYTHING, CLEAN. WHEN I RETURNED TO MY APARTMENT, I DISCOVERED MY NEIGHBORS BRENT AND BILL – OF THE LOCKED-OUT HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE – HAD LEFT ME A $25 CHASE GIFT CARD FOR HELPING THEM OUT THE WEEKEND BEFORE. (SEE KARMA DOES PAY, PEOPLE … AND IT HELPS YOU BUY GROCERIES.)

HOOD

MONDAY MORNING FOUND ME WANDERING AROUND MY BLOCK AS I WAITED FOR JOEL TO JOIN ME AT OUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST SPOT – GOLDEN HOUSE RESTAURANT. YES, IT’S A FAVORITE BECAUSE IT’S JUST ONE BUILDING AWAY FROM MINE. AFTER WITHDRAWING $20 FROM MY ACCOUNT – PART FOR BREAKFAST, THE REST TO PUT ON MY CTA CARD TO GET ME TO WORK THIS WEEK – I WALKED AROUND SOME MORE. (YES, MY JOEL IS PERPETUALLY LATE.)

KIDS

ON MY WALK BACK TOWARDS THE RESTAURANT, I SPOTTED THESE NURSERY SCHOOL STUDENTS ALL BUNDLED UP FOR THEIR MORNING WALK. THE LITTLE GIRL IN FRONT JUST KEPT WAVING AT ME AS I WALKED BY, AND IT MADE MY DAY.

GOLDEN1

FINALLY, IT WAS TIME FOR GOLDEN HOUSE. AGAIN, JOEL AND I GOT OUR FAVORITE CORNER TABLE BY THE WINDOW SO I HAD MY USUAL VIEW. MORE DAYS THAN NOT, THIS ELDERLY MAN CAN BE FOUND SITTING AT THE COUNTER, ALWAYS ORDERING THE SAME THING – COFFEE AND FRENCH FRIES. THE DECOR HAS NOT CHANGED IN THE RESTAURANT FOR DECADES, SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LOVE IT EVEN MORE. (AND NO JOEL, WE’RE NOT TURNING IT INTO A WAFFLE HOUSE.)

GOLDEN2

JOEL’S FRIED-EGG-OVER-HASH-BROWN COMBINATION IS A BIT WEIRD, BUT TASTY HE ASSURES ME. EVERY TIME WE GO, WE BOTH END UP WITH TWO THINGS: HASH BROWNS AND PANCAKES. (AND YES, THE $3.70 SHORT STACK IS THE BEST MONEY CAN BUY ANYWHERE. YUM, YUM, YUM.) AFTERWARDS, WE TOOK THE TIME TO WORK OFF OUR BREAKFAST BY TAKING HUXLEY – PLUS JOEL’S DOGS, RUSSELL, CONNOR AND PANDORA – BACK TO PUPTOWN FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS. (AND NO, HAVING JUST HAD A BATH, HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO ROLL IN THE GRASS AFTERWARDS.)

SHAWN1

SHAWN2

MONDAY NIGHT, HUXLEY AND I WERE INVITED OVER TO SHAWN’S HOUSE TO JOIN SOME FRIENDS FOR DINNER AND SCRABBLE. AS SHAWN IS ABSOLUTELY ONE OF HIS FAVORITE PEOPLE, THIS WAS AN AMAZING TREAT FOR HIM. (NOT TO MENTION THE NEARLY MILE-LONG WALK HE GOT HEADING OVER THERE.) SHAWN MADE THE MOST INCREDIBLE VEGETABLE LASAGNA THAT HAD AN ALMOND PESTO AS A LAYER. (SCRUMPTIOUS.) THANKFULLY THERE WAS ENOUGH LEFT OVER TO PACK ME A DOGGY BAG – FOR ME, NOT HUXLEY – AND I ENJOYED IT AGAIN THE NEXT DAY FOR LUNCH.

HUXLEY2

AFTER THE RETURN TREK HOME FROM SHAWN’S AT 11 P.M. – NOT TO MENTION THE COUNTLESS HOURS OF ACTIVITY IN THE DAYS BEFORE – HUXLEY WAS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY OUT FOR THE COUNT. (AND I WASN’T TOO FAR BEHIND.) FURLOUGH WEEKENDS MAY BE BAD FOR ME, BUT IF YOU ASK HUXLEY, I’M SURE HE WOULD WISH FOR MORE. NOW, IF I COULD JUST FIND HIM A JOB …


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3 thoughts on “A FOUR-LEGGED FURLOUGH WEEKEND

  1. On my recent trip to Aldi, I realized that those pizza’s I like to build upon are only $1.99! Another thing I’ve been noticing there is a shift in products to include a lot more healthy and interesting food choices. I found 6 items that were literally the same as Trader Joe’s with an Aldi package, and for less money. Like those maple cookies… 99¢!

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