Three Little Angels

As you know, just a few days into the year I lost my darling cat to a sudden illness. We had just started our eighteenth year together, and he would have turned nineteen or twenty this year.

About to pounce on a muffin. Puddy would then roll onto his back and juggle it with all four paws, while Oso and Lady waited for it to fall.

Mr. Cat was a sweet yet tough little guy, and for weeks after his death my two dogs, Oso and Lady, searched the house for him. He had a maddening habit of popping out of nowhere and hitting them on the head or paws, then scampering away. I don’t think they ever quite got used to the idea that it was safe to walk across the room.

We moved through spring and Into summer without Mr. Cat, each of us mourning in his own way. Then, on June 2, Oso died suddenly of a presumed heart attack.

Oso was my big, silly baby bear, a dog who loved nothing more than to be petted and hugged and fed his favorite foods. He was one of those dogs who was always in the way, always trying to stay one step ahead. He’d rush to be the first in the kitchen, and no matter where he parked himself it was always the wrong place. He’d be in front of the stove when I needed to cook, in front of the fridge when I needed to get food, in front of the sink when I needed water. The few times he landed in the center of the room he was in the way, period.

Mom’s big brown bear.

Oso, as acting supervisor, would stick his head over my shoulder to check on the status of the food in the oven. He would sit and watch me chop vegetables, and insisted on a look before they went into the pot. He loved bananas and apples and his Thanksgiving treat of a slice of pumpkin pie.

Loving, friendly, and always ready for his close-up, he often posed for photos with passers-by on Devon, especially with children who squealed with joy that they could put their arms around my big, sweet bear. It got so that he would see a camera, and immediately assume his best pose.

Oso was a big dog with a big personality, and the house was suddenly empty without him. I hadn’t fully realized how well he took care of Lady until his passing.

My beautiful little girl had suffered all her life from a seizure disorder thought to be caused by a brain tumor. She also had congenital cataracts. A few years ago, one seizure affected first one front paw and then the other. After that, she didn’t want to go outside anymore. Even when I carried her down the stairs, she would refuse to walk and instead sit and wait to be taken back home. She was terrified of fireworks, which triggered  seizures, and I dreaded the summer holidays.

With Oso gone, she had difficulty finding her way around the house. I would often come home to find her standing trapped under a chair or in a blind corner, not sure in which direction to move. I was used to seeing Oso go to her aid, walking up to her and then moving  away,  a gesture that said just follow me and I’ll take you back to your bed. Lacking his guidance, she would now cry when trapped. I didn’t think Lady would make it through the summer, and, sadly, she didn’t. After several harrowing days and nights  of  fireworks explosions, she suffered her final seizure on July 3. My darling Lady died peacefully in her sleep mid-morning on July 4.

My beautiful Lady.

Lady was a beautiful dog, and she knew it. In her prime, she would strut down the street, conscious of admiring glances and enjoying the attentions of  people who would stop to fuss over her. Until her most serious seizure a couple of years ago, she was very playful, especially with dogs her own size. Sweet and loving, she had no interest at all in being Top Dog, a position that Oso and I each felt was ours (we fought to a draw).

All three of my angels died in a bit less than six months. Their ashes are back home with me, and they, along with their brothers and sisters, will be buried with me when my time comes.

I take my morning walks by myself now, and miss ethe excitement of a dog discovering the world anew every morning, examining each flower and blade of grass as though they hadn’t been there yesterday, then eagerly poking a head around the corner to see what’s there, catching a scent on the breeze and pulling on the leash to follow it. I’ve never had a cat who wasn’t fascinated by life on the other side of the window, watching the world for hours and then snoozing on the windowsill in the sunlight.

I have been blessed with many wonderful dogs and cats over the years. I like to think that when Mr. Cat, Oso, and Lady crossed the Rainbow Bridge they were greeted by the brothers and sisters who preceded them. I like to think of all of them running around on a cloud, playing happily and joyfully, Lady reuniting with her buddy Paco, Mr. Cat exploring the heavens, and Oso charming everyone in sight–lovingly in the way.

Eventually, there will be another cat and another dog, and they will be as unique and wonderful as all my other angels. But for now, I feel lost, my home is empty, and I cannot think yet about bringing another pet home.

Later, but not now.



Warren Park Survey

The Warren Park Advisory Council is asking the community for input on the park’s current programming and use. If you’d like to make your voice heard, access the survey by searching for “Public Uses of Warren Park.” (Sorry, I was unable to copy and paste the link.)


Pop-up Kosher Indian Restaurant

Shalom Klein, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park, has announced a special event for this Sunday, July 29. The community’s first annual international pop-up restaurant, this time serving kosher Indian foods, will open for the evening at Ezras Israel on North California Avenue.

The event will include a special cooking demonstration. Food will be prepared by professional chefs.

Tickets can be ordered in advance ($15 for members, $18 for nonmembers) or purchased at the event ($18 for members, $22 for nonmembers. Tickets for children under age ten are $12. The menu can be viewed and tickets pre-ordered online at\event\indian.

The event will take place in the Rosenberg Auditorium at Ezras Israel, 7001 North California Avenue beginning at 5:00 p.m.

For more information, call 773/764-8320.


Construction Noise

At 6:30 yesterday morning I was awakened by loud crashing, the sounds of metal and wood being tossed around. It seems that neighbors were having a new roof put on their bungalow, and the construction company decided to get an early start. Sleeping neighbors were not a concern. At 7 a.m. the construction began.


The crew arrived in an unmarked white van. One crew member climbed onto the roof and began tossing ladders and boards onto the street and sidewalk. The van was initially parked so that it blocked other traffic. When I asked the name of the company, the crew chief opened the van’s door and pulled out a magnetic sign which he slapped on the back of the truck.

No safety precautions for pedestrians were in place, like yellow tape indicating that it would be better to walk on the other side of the street. Plastic sheeting covered the sidewalk, a potential hazard  for those walking.

It is illegal in the City of Chicago for any construction noise to take place before 8 a.m. except for City work (sewers, etc.) and emergency repairs. Construction crews are required by law not to set up for the day’s work before 7 a.m. Construction is permitted over a 12-hour day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Construction company owners, managers, and supervisors are expected to understand and obey the law. Unfortunately, many try to get away with starting earlier and working later, figuring that there’s nothing the neighbors can do.

I talked  to the crew chief, who informed me that his boss told him that they could operate from 7 to 7 and, anyway, it was going to be a hot day. I called the police around 7:25 a.m. but they did not come.

This morning the crew was back early and began running very noisy equipment at 7 a.m. I called the police again and then a second time. Construction suddenly stopped at 7:40, after 40 minutes of shrieking noise. It resumed about 8:15 a.m.

I know the owners of the property and they are wonderful neighbors. I did not see either of them yesterday or today so I’m not sure if they’ve been home during the construction. Having lived through a roof redo in my building, I sincerely hope they found another place to stay for a couple of days. Responsibility for complying with the law belongs to the contractor and his crew.

I may not like construction noise over a 12-hour day, but because it’s legal I don’t complain. But I treasure the quiet early morning hours, before the unrelenting din of Devon’s heavy traffic and the booming “music” from its cars overwhelm the songs of birds and the chirping of squirrels. I like to hear the breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees. In a busy City rife with unnecessary noise, these are rare hours. Nobody should be blasted awake at 6:30 a m.

Maybe instead of holding hearings on national issues so our aldermen can grandstand for the electorate, our City Council might busy itself ensuring that local contractors, property wners, and businesses understand the law and observe it.



Andrew Rowlas Challenging Silverstein for Alderman

Andrew Rowlas, a community activist and former educator, has announced his candidacy for alderman of the 50th Ward, challenging two-term incumbent Debra Silverstein.

Rowlas is campaigning on a progressive platform of economic development centered around small businesses, improved educational opportunities for neighborhood students, and civic engagement by neighborhood residents.

His goals are in sharp contrast to Silverstein’s eight years of inertia. The ward still waits for the economic development plan she promised in 2011. Her lack of transparency and refusal to engage with her constituents are near legendary, even for Chicago. She is one of the Mayor’s most dependable stooges, a reliable member of the rubber-stamp brigade in the City Council.

Rowlas has served as president of the West Ridge Community Organization, is a leading member of LEARN–the coalition of community members and organizations that led the charge for a new library– and has worked extensively to foster communication and cooperation between and with all ethnic and religious communities across the ward. He was instrumental in the formation of the Warren Park Advisory Council, which gives local residents a voice in Park activities.

It’s worth noting that, after nearly 8 years in office, Silverstein had never shown any interest in connecting the north side’s largest park with its nearby residents. Rowlas saw the need to do so and rallied other activists to make it happen. Just imagine the great things that could happen in the 50th with a proactive alderman!

Rowlas spent 38 years as a teacher, counselor, and principal. He would be a strong voice for increased quality educational opportunities both in the ward and across Chicago.

Support the Rowlas campaign by volunteering or donating via the campaign Web site,

Silverstein will not be able to run a Rose Garden campaign this year. I look forward to the coming debates. And so should you.