January 2012 Archives


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If you missed Shark Tank this Friday, stop what you are doing and watch this right now. Steve is the first segment. Get ready...it's awesome.


Things I am Loving These Days


You know how sometimes you find a product or make a purchase and you just love everything about it? Well, there are some things I am absolutely adoring right now, and I can't keep them to myself. I can't recommend them enough.  Here are 3:



The Contigo Extreme Mug . There are many things I love about this mug. The color, the grippy handle, the carabiner on the handle, the fact that it fits in my car cup holder. Yesterday, I made coffee at home at 8:30am before I left for work. I filled it up. I only drank about half of it, and let it sit with the mouth spout open all day. When I left the office at 5:00pm, I poured out the leftover coffee and IT WAS STILL WARM. Amazing. We got ours at Target, but it's also at Amazon.



The Aladdin Aqua-to-go Tumbler. Ok ok, another coffee thing. I got a 16 ounce one of these last summer or so, and I used it so much, I had to go get a second one so that I could alternate them and always have a clean one. 99% of the time, I would prefer and iced latte or iced americano over a hot one (the exception--when I make coffee at home. I make mostly hot at home). I LOVE THIS CUP. It is a durable plastic, and double walled, so it doesn't sweat all over your desk or car, and it keeps your drinks cold! [Sidenote: we've recently determined that I like my coffee and tea either super hot or super cold--I can't handle anything in between. Warm, no way. Water, on the other hand, I need to be room temp.] I recently went and bought a 20oz version of it, and I've used it a ton, too, and we picked up some colorful swirly fun straws to go with it (I can't find them online) and that makes my coffee even more fun. We got ours at Target, but it's also on Amazon.


old navy dress.jpg

This Sweater Maxi Dress from Old Navy.  I don't think it is available online anymore. When this dress was in all its glory, it was $46. When I saw it in clearance, it was $4. So I bought it. I figured, what the heck, if anything I could use it as a lounge dress around the house. But then, I put it on. And Oh. My. God. It is the most amazing dress ever. It is warm and toasty, it is super long (why am I just now discovering maxi dresses?), and it is soft and body hugging and glorious. And now I can't stop wearing it. And I always get complements! I love it so much, I sent Fuzzy down to get me a second one. So I have 2 of the exact same dress, and I probably wear each of them at least once (or twice) a week (this is something you can get away with, not having in-person colleagues). I am wearing it RIGHT NOW. And it was only FOUR FRICKING DOLLARS. Purrrrr..... I am going to be sad when they start to get threadbare and full of holes.

It's the little things in life that make you happy.


Holy Shit

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I just signed up for the International Distance* Chicago Triathlon!!! Guess who starts training tomorrow?!


*1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6 mile run.

First of all, I apologize to the delinquency of this post--I've been promising it to my mom for the last 2.5 months. Sorry for the delay!

Ok! So we all know how my favorite thing about Christmas in Chicago is the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Last year, I shared with you all the amazing and incredible glass ornaments that we purchased for our tree last year (if you are a new reader to this blog in the last year, please click that link for reference), something that brought me great joy. Well, this year, we were determined to not go hog wild again. We were also determined to get the ceramic boot filled with mulled wine that they have each year, that is usually sold out by the time we make it down. So this year, we went on opening night! We weren't going to let that boot pass us by!

Erica and mulled wine boots 

Erica and Fuzzy at the market 
Remember when Fuzzy had only a mustache?

So anyways, mission number one was accomplished. Last year, we only went into one of the 2 glass ornament houses, so this year we decided to start by going to the other one. If we had missed Jesus-Being-Swallowed-by-a-Dolphin (if confused, see link above) in the other one, surely it was going to be in the "animal" themed house. So in we went. And here is what happened. Turtle Ornament
A turtle! I decided that since I can't put tchotchkes on dad's grave any more due to new cemetary ownership, instead I will buy a frog or turtle ornament each year in his memory. New tradition! (pay no attention to my cuticles.) (oops, I just called attention to them.)

Chicken Ornament 
Tiny white chicken! Every christmas tree needs a chicken...

...or two. Look at how fancy he is!!

 Fancy Chicken Ornament
He really makes a fashion statement.

Last year we got a white squirrel, so this year I got him a friend.

Squirrel Ornament 
Brown Squirrel!

Clown Fish Ornament 
I love clownfish--always have always will--so this was a must.

Raccoon Ornament 
Fuzzy love raccoons, so this guy was also necessary.

Then we met this guy:

Cat With Strange Look Ornament 
And we couldn't stop looking at him. Or rather, he couldn't stop looking at us. I think he might have actually possessed us and forced him to buy us. When I put them on the tree, I made sure to position it to always be looking at Fuzzy.

We also got a couple that we just thought were cool and pretty:

Blue Pinecone Ornament 
This photo doesn't do this justice. It is so sparkly and beautiful in the light!

 Chicago Flag Ornament
And of course, you know how much we love the Chicago flag.

So we sadly made it through the hut without finding our friend Jesus and the Dolphin. We were disappointed, but it was ok.

We went to pay for this year's bounty, when I spied something behind the register.

Jonah and the Whale Fancy Box

There it was! In all its glory! In a special box, even! I asked if we could see it, and we asked the cost. It wasn't terribly expensive, but it also wasn't cheap, but we decided we couldn't go another year without it. Besides, we had a bigger tree this year--we HAD to get it!  They told us it was the last one, so it was really meant to be.

Jesus Being Eaten by a Dolphin
Voila! He is ours! Mission Accomplished!

Feeling good about our purchases, we decided we would only waft through the other hut, but not really buy much more. On the way, we saw a booth selling glass wares, and these triangle Santas caught our eyes. They were pretty, yes, but they also looked very demonic, so we decided we had to get the gnarliest looking one: Zombie Santa Ornament

Now, we all know that the score of last year was the torso of the bikini man and woman. Well, of course, I needed to get them some friends: Torso ornaments, front
Check out their white poofs!

Torso ornaments, back
Here they all are, hanging out:
Last years and this years body ornaments
Hey baby...

SO! Here it is! This year's tree!
The Tree Resplendent
Please note the skeleton tree topper.

Of course, just like last year, there were some poor choices made...one that got away, if you will. Let's take a look at the one that we passed by this year. Money Shitter Ornaments
Why, look at all those fellas! What's going on with them?

Money Shitter Ornament
Oh, dear...is that a penny coming out of his butt? Is that intentional?

Money Shitter
Oh. Yes. Yes it is.

Next year, Money Shitter, you will be mine.

Steve Wants to Draw a Cat for You

This is totally for real. I can't wait.

Also, Steve was listed as number 41 in Newcity's recent "Fifty People Who Really Perform in Chicago"

41 Steve Gadlin

Steve Gadlin and his Blewt! cohorts create some of the funniest, most imaginative projects anywhere, from the "Impress These Apes" show that first brought them to our attention, to his more recent "Nairobi Project" wherein he commissioned an email spammer to create plays for him which he produced. But he's on the verge of going big-time now: his "Don't Spit the Water" game show pilot recently aired on television and, later this month on January 27, he's really breaking out when he appears on ABC Television's "Shark Tank" to pitch rich investors on his project "I Want to Draw A Cat for You." Sounds Trump-worthy to us.

I'm one of those "cohorts!" WOOO!

Quick Update

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I am happy to report that I am FINALLY feeling better, thank goodness. I hope that tomorrow I will be back to 100%, so I can start being active again (and eat a cheeseburger...)

I was writing an email to a friend today, and the sentence that came out of my head and fingers made me happy. It might be my new catchphrase:

Just trying to enjoy the now and figure out the next.

I'd say that is pretty damn accurate.

Being ok with it

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I am still feeling shitty with this gastroenteritis or whatever it is, and I've felt like a slug all weekend. I barely was able to do anything but sleep and watch movies. I had the luxury of having no plans all weekend, so I just stayed in my jammies and rested as much as I could. I have to venture out of the house in a little while, which I am nervous about, and today is my last day that I can really stay home from work, so I need to be better tomorrow no matter what. Since I just dealt with a worse form of this last fall, I know it isn't as bad as it could be, but it still isn't pleasant. I was just looking some things up online on how to make it better, and one website I found said "accept that you're sick" and "give yourself a few days to rest." Which I almost never want to do, cause when I am sick, I just feel like an idiot and want to get past it. Especially since I feel like I am sick all the time, now. When I was really active, I wasn't sick at all, but for the past several months, I've not been able to get back active again, cause I feel like I am always sick. But that site put it into perspective for me--I had a really rough week, losing a close family member among other things, and it is ok that I am not 100% right now. I need to cut myself some slack. Be nice to myself. Be ok with it. So that is what I am working on today. I am just doing the best I can, and I am ok that right now that best is kinda puny.

The Ericas in Red

My bestie, Erica Livingston, was in town for New Years this year, and we are no strangers to posing for odd photos and making odd videos. This was this year's project.
Ericas in (Off-brand) Snuggies
The Ericas in repose.

Last year, for Christmas, my mom gave Fuzzy and I plush red "Slanket/Snuggie/Blankets with Sleeves" and they are awesome.

Ericas in (Off-brand) Snuggies
"Who's the fairest in the land?"

And of course, we had to get Parker in on the action: Ericas in (Off-brand) Snuggies Ericas in (Off-brand) Snuggies
Snuggles in Snuggies!

Promoting My Friends!

This week, my friend and colleague, the amazing Steve Gadlin will be featured on ABC's Shark Tank, in which he will try to convince the "sharks" (Investors) to invest in I Want to Draw a Cat for You.  Seriously. He's gotten a ton of press about it--read everything here. I am so excited to see this!

Another friend and colleague of mine, the incredible Donna Touch, is competing to get a slot in the finals of the upcoming Viva Las Vegas Burlesque Competition. To do so, she needs your votes! Go to this link, click on the photo of Donna, enter your email address and click on the confirmation link that is emailed to you. You won't be signed up for any mailing lists of receive any spam (I should know, I am really obsessive about not-signing up for things.) You can see Donna perform at the Kiss Kiss Cabaret, Fridays at 11pm!


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I've been trying to think of a way to write a nice little tribute to my grandmother, but every time I think about it, I get overwhelmed and have to stop. So I just decided to do some random stream of consciousness writing here about her, to get these things out of my head.

I was born on Memaw's birthday, which has always been so special to me. She always made a point to take me out for a birthday lunch, just the 2 of us when I was growing up. We talked every year on our birthday, even when I moved away, and it's been weird for the last few years with her being in the nursing home not being able to call her to wish her a happy birthday. It'll be weird this year without her.

Memaw made the BEST chicken and dumplins and unsweet tea I've ever had. I use her dumplins recipe when I make them, and while mine are good, they just aren't the same.

I wear the "Mother of the Bride" dress that she wore in my aunt Linda's wedding for the character of April May in "Impress These Apes." I have a lot of her old dresses and jewelry, and it is so special every time I wear them.

Christopher and I loved spending the night over at her house. At night, she and papaw would let Buffy (the parakeet) out of his cage and fly around the house, which was the MOST EXCITING THING to us. Papaw would listen to records, and memaw would watch Lawrence Welk (my favorite line ever from the show: "Well, there you have it. A nice group of pretty good dancers.") The next morning, we would watch Saturday morning cartoons in the living room and wrestle ("Germ Caterpillar" [catapiller] and "I Bet You Can't Break Through This Fort" were the best to play at her house) and she would make us either french toast or toast with orange marmalade.

Memaw played the organ at the church we grew up in. It was so fun running up to her after each service for a hug, and on rare special occasions, we would get to sit next to her during the service in front of the whole congregation. She taught us piano, but my focus was dance, so in our lessons that were supposed to happen before my ballet class, I would often convince her that I need to rest before class instead of take lessons. She almost always let me.

Memaw and I shared another bond--hyperhidrosis. Mom said that when I was a baby, only a few weeks old, my feet would turn bright red and I would cry and cry. Memaw suggested once that she put socks on my feet, and that made me stop crying. She knew then and there that I had it.  Hyperhidrosis is such a horrible condition, and it helped that I had a family member so close to me who knew what it was like to not be able to touch people, hold paper, use a pencil, etc. When she played piano (and when I did as well) or organ, she would leave little droplets of water on the keys, and I would always clean them up for her after the service.  When I discovered the surgery that would later change my life (for which I am still forever grateful to Shelly Gossman for finding for me and sending my way), Memaw was so supportive of me, telling me that I had to do it, and she would if she could, also. The decision to have that surgery was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, and I think she was happy that it made me able to live a more normal life.

Memaw was so supportive of me when I decided to move to Chicago, both emotionally and financially. I struggled there for a few years at the beginning, when I was working 3 jobs, in classes and doing shows, and she would always send along a little check right when I needed it most. I tried to keep her updated on my shows and goings on, and when we cleaned out her house a few years ago, I found every card or letter that I ever sent her. She never threw them out.  In the cards that she would write me, she would always apologize for her "chicken scratch" handwriting.

This is a random memory, but my brother and I, while being best friends, fought like cats and dogs growing up. Whenever I would say that I hated him (something I would never ever say today), she would just repeat the word "hate" over and over again to make us realize how stupid and mean it was. "Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate." and eventually it would get me to admit that I didn't hate him, I was just mad at him.

When we found and scanned all the photos of memaw as a child and young girl, it offered a glimpse into a whole world that we didn't know existed. She looked so exotic! I've had some friends tell me that I look a lot like her, and I think that is the nicest complement.

At the funeral, the pastor talked about how Memaw always brought out the best in people and wanted others to be happy. It was neat to hear that, as that is the kind of life that I strive to have as well. I want my friends to succeed, and I want to help them in whatever way I can for them to be happy. I like to think that most of us in my family is like that, but it was nice to hear it in words and know that I am following in the footsteps of such a great lady.

At the funeral, I was reminded of our sweet little family, and just how many have passed on before us. Memaw Burns, Papaw Bane, Lollie, Papaw Reid, and of course, my Dad. Every time we lose someone new, I miss my Daddy more and more. It was weird not having Christopher and Katie there at the services, and I know they had a hard time not being there as well. But sweetly, there was also a melding of both sides of the family. Susan, my Dad's sister, sat with the family, and their brother Carl was a pall bearer. At the funeral home, Linda had put together a slideshow of old family photos, and there was one of Memaw, Papaw, Mom, Christopher (who was holding his koala Eukie), Dad and me (who was holding my blanket Dird)--it was so quintessentially US, and it really showed just how much over the years the family has changed. I am so grateful that I was blessed with the family that I was blessed with. They all taught me a lot, and I am who I am because of them. 

I am so honored that Helen Juanita Burns Bane was my grandmother. She will certainly be missed.

We all saw that coming

I didn't get a lot of sleep Wednesday night. I just didn't feel right and couldn't do it. All day Thursday, I felt like I was going to vomit, but I was able to get through the funeral ok. Fuzzy and I thought I was just worn out and stressed, but I couldn't shake the nausea.  At Linda's afterwards, I laid on the couch the whole time and tried to eat a little, but wasn't successful. We left Linda's and I laid on mom's couch a while before we headed to Jackson. I dozed a little there. I slept on the plane almost the whole time, but when we got home, the stomach flu symptoms set in. (Thank goodness I wasn't puking on the plane!) I promptly fell asleep about 10 minutes after getting in last night, and Fuzzy brought me gatorade. My stomach felt so bad that I tried taking more pepto, but I could only take half the dose, so I left the cup of liquid on the nightstand. I knew that was a bad idea, but I didn't have the energy to do anything about it. I was up and down all night sick, so when it came time for work, I knew I had to stay home. I basically slept til 2:00pm, just now, when I decided I should try to eat some crackers since I didn't have dinner last night. Right now, my room is not especially tidy, and there are shoes, socks and magazines all over the floor by the bed. So I get up, grab my bottle of gatorade and the crackers, and...say it with me...drop the crackers onto the open cup of pink pepto, spilling it all over the floor, my socks, some magazines, and the heat dial from our heating pad on the bed. Yep. We all saw that coming.

Memaw's Obituary


Helen Juanita Bane
(April 12, 1928 - January 16, 2012)

Helen Juanita Bane, 83 of Vicksburg, MS, died Monday, January 16, 2012 at Shady Lawn Nursing Home in Vicksburg, MS.

Mrs. Bane was born in Neshoba County but lived most of her life in Vicksburg. She was a member of Highland Baptist Church where she served as Organist for a number of years. Mrs. Bane taught piano and organ for many years.
The family would like to thank Hospice Advantage and Shady Lawn Nursing Home for the love and care of Mrs. Bane.

Survivors Include:
Linda Bane (Don) Antoine, Vicksburg, MS
Patricia Bane Reid, Vicksburg, MS
Christopher (Katie) Reid
Erica (Fuzzy) Gerdes
Matthew Antoine
Scott Antoine

Preceded in death by:
Parents: H H Burns Sr. and Laura Mae Parker Burns

Brother: Henry H. Burns Jr.

[EDITED]- Husband: George A. Bane

Son-n-Law David Reid

Funeral services will be held at 10 a m Thursday Jan. 19,2012 at Frank J. Fisher Funeral Home in Vicksburg, MS with Bro. Marvin Curtis officiating.

Burial will follow at Greenlawn Gardens Cemetery with Rev. Ron Burch officating.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 from 5 to 7 p m at Frank J. Fisher Funeral Home .

Pallbearers: Don Antoine, Matthew Antoine, Scott Antoine, Fuzzy Gerdes, Carl Reid, L. H. Abraham

Mom and Memaw Bane, Easter 1957

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Tricia and Juanita Easter 57

What a week

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It's definitely been a roller coaster week this week. I lost a friend, reunited with a long lost one, had a house full of people (including my best friend and 2 new awesome ones), lost my sweet memaw, didn't sleep a lot, laughed a lot, cried even more. I am filled with sadness, joy, anxiety, love, excitement, exhaustion, numbness, and all sorts of other emotions right now. It's making me a little crazy, honestly, but also, it is filling me with so much gratitude and life. These are real emotions and real adult moments that I am so grateful to have. I am alive and well and am so blessed for everything that I have in my life. So blessed.

Sweet Tribute to Memaw*

Christopher wrote this sweet piece about Memaw Bane today. I totally agree. I'll probably write some of my own words soon, too. I was just telling a friend about orange marmalade the other day, too.

*there has always been a split down the center disagreement in our family of the spelling of the word "memaw/ mamaw." Dad and Christopher were/are the mAmaw camp, and mom and I are the mEmaw camp. There have been unending conversations about this over the years.

Sweet Tribute to Mike

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Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune wrote this lovely piece about Mike Enriquez today.


My sweet little memaw passed away last night...
She and I shared a birthday.

Memaw Bane and Erica July 4, 1979 Juanita and George Bane Juanita 1946 Juanita Bane recent 
I'll really miss her. More info to come soon. Christopher, David, and the Memaws 2003

A Sad Day

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The world lost a true treasure last night.


We'll miss you, Mike. A whole lot.

Fuck cancer.

Fake Summer


Chicago has been unseasonably warm lately, and it's been awesome. We haven't REALLY had winter yet, though it is just around the corner (heavy snow and temps in the teens are due this weekend) and I am SCARED TO DEATH about it. My brain has already skipped winter and is headed for spring, partially fueled by the weather and also by the fact that I watched a lot of MTV Hits (the one that plays videos) over the weekend. Music videos are my weakness, and in them, it is (almost) always summer and everything is colorful and you can wear fashionable looks all year round and not have to worry about frostbite. I am SO ready for tank tops and short skirts. Ahh...that is heaven to me.

Anyways, every now and again, a video comes on that makes me hit the record button on my remote control (usually to show Fuzzy, as I do most of my video watching when he is out of town. I can zone out with videos for hours.) A few months ago it was Sexy and I know It by LMFAO, which later became the theme song for December when I was with Christopher and Katie (video probably not suitable for work):

And the other night it was Crash Your Party by Karmin:

I can't get enough of this song. It's my jam for summer 2012. It's my jam now for fake summer 2012, that's for sure. Look at how cute and dorky and adorable that girl is! I later found Karmin's version of Look at Me Now, which is just really impressive. Homegirl's got skillz.

Stay away winter! Spring and summer, take me away!

I'm Back, Baby!

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I am VERY excited to report that, after 6 months of rest and physical therapy, I am back on my feet again--literally! Yesterday, for the first time since July, I WENT FOR A RUN! WOOOO! I can't tell you how happy this makes me!  It sort of just hit me that I was ready (I've been too scared to try previously), so yesterday I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and put on my new cute running top, a hat, some pants, my robot knee brace, and my new running gloves Fuzzy gave me for Christmas, popped on some Soundgarden on my iPod (Down on the Upside is a GREAT running album) and went for it! I walked for 5 minutes as a warm up, then RAN FOR TWENTY!! Without stopping! I just ran around the neighborhood, up and down the streets. I probably could have done more, but I didn't want to overdo it on my knee. I then walked 5 more for a cool down. I felt like a rockstar afterwards, and still do! Today, I am a little sore and my knee is a little weak, but just a little! I feel like I am back!  We've signed up for an indoor 5K in February, and now I am positive that I will be able to do it. It feels so good to be back! Look out, 2012--I'm coming to get you!


My Southern Apartment

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I can't even begin to tell you how refreshed I am feeling this year. 2012 is kicking ass so far. Fuzzy and I are rocking out our organization and cleaning project, and part of that is putting art on the walls. We've been in our apartment for 4.5 years, and I am just now feeling like we are settling in and the place is feeling homey and cozy. I love it.

I want to share 2 new amazing pieces of art that we have in our apartment. The first one has a little bit of a back story. My uncle Carl (my Dad's next oldest brother--Dad was the oldest of 4) used to have a rubber stamp business back in the day. We used to have Reid Rubber Stamps all over the house, and it used to be that when you would go to the bank drive through (well, when Mom would...I was a kid), you could see all the Reid Rubber Stamps that they used in the window. SO- cut to Christmas Eve, when we were hanging out in the yard at Memaw Reid's house, and Carl, Fuzzy and I went into his old shop, which is now my aunt's husband's "man cave." There on the wall was this big wooden Reid Rubber Stamp sign--the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. I gasped, pointed and exclaimed "I want that!!!" Carl was like "Really?" and then ripped it off the wall (It was mounted in there) and said "It's yours." Turns out he's been wondering what to do with it for all these years, so he said it was meant to be mine. I love it so much! It is hand carved and hand painted by Carl, which makes it even cooler.  After he gave it to me, he proceeded to then tell Fuzzy and I all sorts of stories about my dad and how he used to prank Carl, etc etc. It was awesome, and so special. We carried it on the plane, and then put it in our hallway so that I can always see it and it can be a focal point of our hallway.

Reid Rubber Stamp

The sign--that's exactly what the stamps used to look like.

Reid Rubber Stamp

Here is a photo of it for scale. It's really big! (sidenote: all of our rooms and walls in our apartment have a theme. The hallway/ entryway's theme is art about Fuzzy and I, or family photos. That's why you'll see in this photos those awesome paintings of Mustapha by Kate, a portrait of Fuzzy by his cousin, and our engagement photos.) (I am also happy to report that all those VHS tapes are not stacked up there anymore. Instead I have awesome framed photos of family and friends. Progress!)

Perhaps my favorite Christmas that I received this year is one that came a few days after Christmas. Fuzzy worked from home the week between Christmas and New Years, so on the 27th, while he was home and I was at work, he crafted up a special amazing gift--a bottle tree for our sunroom!!! I've wanted a bottle tree for YEARS. I love them so much. For those of you who don't know, a bottle tree is a Southern folk art/ folklore tradition--you put colorful bottles on a "tree" (which can be metal, wood, or an actual tree). The bottles are supposed to attract and catch any evil spirits that might be near your house--once they are trapped, they can't get out! Or they are destroyed by the sunlight in the day. Etc etc. You see bottle trees all over the South--Christopher and Katie even had one! So, I get home from work, and Fuzzy hands me a bottle of Reisling with a photo of a smiling sun on it. The bottle was blue, and the sun had a word bubble on it that said something like "I hope you enjoy drinking this wine, but when you are finished, I'd like to go live in MY room." Meaning the sun room. I froze, trying to not get too excited, but Fuzzy told me to check out the sunroom. There, in the corner, was this amazing, wall sized, bottle tree, which he carved and made by hand! He fastened all the dowels and everything! I burst into tears. It is so beautiful!

Bottle tree!

We've been filling it out right now with mainly old beer and liquor bottles that we like, but we will slowly replace some of those with more colorful bottles as we get them. I can't tell you how happy it makes me! Just more evidence that Fuzzy is the greatest man on earth, and I am so lucky to be married to him. Now all we need is some warm weather so we can really enjoy it!

I've been desperately needing Chicago to feel more like "home" lately. And I am happy to say that with these Southern touches, my new mantra of "slow down," and the organization project, I am feeling like it is again. It feels great.

Holidays in the South!


The trip home for Christmas this year was really lovely. I was great being in the South--I feel like I really reconnected with my roots. It was bittersweet, of course, because of ailing old memaws and lots of goodbyes, but we had some great time together as a family, and ate lots of great food.

Christopher's Birthday at El Sombrero 
On December 22nd, we celebrated Christopher's 35th birthday! (photo by Katie Reid)

Christopher's Birthday at El Sombrero 
He will never turn down an opportunity to wear a sombrero, that's for sure.

 Erica and Tricia
Me and Mama!

The next day, we had dinner with friends at Rusty's! Here is Jill and Philip, Christopher and Ian! Mom and I split a mondo seafood platter, and of course we had fried pickles. Heaven. Eating out with friends & family
(photo by Katie Reid)

Later that night, we went to the Biscuit Company with some family and old friends to see my uncle Carl's band, The Chill. The Chill at the Biscuit Co
Carl and Lee H. rock it out.
Watching the Chill at the Biscuit Company
A bunch of friends! (photo by Chris Reid)
Watching the Chill at the Biscuit Company
Here we are with Carl! Doesn't he look a lot like Dad? (photo by Chris Reid)
Alex and Erica
Alex came out!
Alex, Erica, and Jamie
Look out for Jamie!

Unless noted, all photos by Fuzzy Gerdes. More to come later!


Well, I was going to try to blog more in the new year, and I've totally failed at that. But! It's been for good reasons! Company in town! Apartment overhaul! Trying to get caught up on my thank you notes! I keep writing these massive To-do lists, cause I keep remembering things to do, but the good news about it all is, I am actually crossing things off of it. So my little blog falls behind. More to come, I promise. You are all amazing.

Reids in the Vicksburg Post

Here is the text from the article in today's Vicksburg Post about Christopher and Katie!

On a mission
City native, wife follow 'calling' to Tanzania
by Pamela Hitchins

Chris and Katie Reid pose in downtown Vicksburg before their move to Tanzania. (Eli Baylis)

The year 2012 is not just a new year for Vicksburg native Christopher Reid. It's a time of many "news" -- new job, new home, new language, new country, new continent.

Reid, 35, a 1995 graduate of Warren Central High School, and his wife Katie, 33, a native of Philadelphia, have signed on with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to living and working in poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The Reids arrived Friday in Tanzania, on the east coast of Africa, where for the next 3 1/2 years they will bring their backgrounds in social work and community involvement to work primarily with women in the country's second largest city, Mwanza, located on Lake Victoria.

"It is a leap of faith, with some pretty big unknowns," Chris Reid said in an interview at the Highway 61 Cafe. "Will I be able to learn the language? Will they even want to talk with me? Will I be able to make a connection with them?"

On the whole, though, the Reids are excited and happy to be on their way to do the work they've trained, prayed and hoped to do.

"Even on a bad day it will still be interesting," Chris Reid said.

Family members say he's right for the challenge.

"I don't really want him to go, because he'll be away for so long, but they have to go," said his mother, Patricia Reid. "It's their calling."

"My brother's my best friend," said Erica Reid Gerdes. "I've learned so much from him throughout my life. It's difficult knowing I won't be able to see him and talk to him as often as I might like, but I'm still learning from him -- to not hold back, to take risks, to follow the passions I have, as well."

At Warren Central, Chris Reid played trumpet in the Big Blue Band and was president of the art club before going on to Hinds Community College and earning a degree in graphic arts. Katie, raised in Philadelphia, got a bachelor's degree from New York University.

Both Chris and Katie have a record of community and social service. They met in 2001 when they were members of AmeriCorps NCCC in Denver. For Chris, raised a Baptist, it was also a time of spiritual seeking and discovering the Catholic church, he said.

At the same time, some pivotal reading, like Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible," got him interested in Africa, and Bible studies and Catholic instructional classes he attended sparked his desire to work for social causes.

"I was really struck by the stories of the people that were down in the dirt and working to help others," Chris Reid said. "Yes, the history of the church, the hierarchy, these things were interesting, too, but it was the social justice that I found inspiring. It struck a nerve with me, and here we are six or seven years later actually going to do the same thing."

Katie Reid's path was a bit more direct.

"I remember from an early age wanting to do social justice work," she said. "I also remember from an early age wanting to move to Africa. That's how I ended up with a major in social work."

Following their Americorps service, they were married in Cape May, N.J., and then moved to South Carolina where each earned master's degrees at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and compiled extensive resumes of social work, including homelessness councils, sexual trauma victims, mental health agencies and juvenile justice programs.

Chris converted to Catholicism as he and Katie married -- not because he had to, the couple said, but because of an authentic, from-the-heart response. They began looking for ways to serve overseas, though the illness and death of Chris' father, David Reid, such a mainstay at the 61 Cafe that his hat still hangs over the door, intervened. The couple finally was able to sign on with Maryknoll this year.

"We told them, 'We want Africa, but we are so committed to this work, you can put us anywhere," Chris Reid said. "That's how called we are. Maryknoll also sends missioners to Asia and South America, and they could have sent us somewhere else. But when I interviewed, it worked out to be Africa. We got all of it. We got exactly what we wanted."

Maryknoll calls its workers "missioners," not "missionaries," and their focus is not overtly evangelistic, Chris Reid said. They respect the culture of the people and do not try to change them or effect a religious conversion. Missioners simply live among them, helping where they can.

His Maryknoll trainers told Chris that when he and Katie are able to let go of the idea of "I'm going to change the world," that's when they will actually start being effective, he said.

"Lower your expectations," he said they were told. "You are an accompanist, accompanying people in their stories."

Their first task will be attending an intensive residential language school for three months where they will learn Swahili, and then they will have a two- to three-month initiation period at their jobs, mostly honing their language skills.

The Reids will not know exactly what their duties will be until they are knee-deep into them, but Maryknoll had to provide a general job description in order for them to get visas.

Katie will be working with the Catholic Diocese of Mwanza in programming, focusing on gender-based projects like support for single mothers, gender and HIV/AIDS, and women and agriculture. Chris will work with the Buswelu Women's Cooperative, where groups of 10 women to 15 women work on income-generating projects, he said.

Happy New Year!

Hello Friends!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful first day of the year. Fuzzy and I have celebrated it by doing a massive rearranging and cleaning of the house. It is looking good! We are hanging up art, we are getting rid of stuff, and we are trying to get organized.  We still have a lot of rooms and areas to conquer, but we're on track and it's a great way to start the year.

I have decided that my goal for the year is going to be to slow down. To enjoy each day, and to try to not get too stressed out. Slowing down. Being home more often. Cooking more good meals. Appreciating the gifts that we have.

Speaking of, Christopher and Katie made it safely to Africa! I can't imagine the feelings and experiences they must be having right now. If you would like to keep up with their journey, they are blogging about it: Here is Katie's blog, here is Christopher's.

Happy new year, everyone! Here's to good things in 2012.