Category Archives: Just Stories

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Farnsworth House

In April of 2001, when the state of Illinois was considering the purchase of the Farnsworth House and the 62 acres of land it sits on along the Fox River, I wrote a letter and sent it to damn near everyone I knew at the time that had anything to do with conservation, along with sending it to the Letters sections of all the papers.

I knew that in 1996, when the Fox had a 100 year flood event, it inundated the Farnsworth House and it cost $250K to restore it. As the infamous WGN radio host Spike O’Dell said at the time of the 1996 floods… “What did you think was going to happen when you paved everything over, water’s gotta go somewhere.”

I had studied architecture and knew all about Mies and the historic significance of the house, why it was built the way it is and why it’s located where it is… and none of that mattered to me.

Apparently I made that quite clear in part of the letter I wrote back then.

Common sense dictates that you don’t build homes in floodplains.

I think the emphasis on why the State of Illinois should purchase the Farnsworth property needs to be reevaluated. The purchase of the house would include 62 acres of land that borders the Fox River. The land alone, with or without the inclusion of the house, should be purchased by the state.
The Farnsworth property is next to, and across the river from, Silver Springs State Park. Adding the 62 acres to Silver Springs would protect a beautiful stretch of the Fox River from development, and guarantee public access to a body of water that is quickly becoming surrounded by private property.
As for the house, if it is included in the purchase, it should be moved further back on the floodplain. I don’t think moving it will have any effect on its architectural integrity. In the long run, the move will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair bills as the house will no longer get damaged by floods.

The picture at the top of this post is from April of 2013, never did bother looking into what it cost to repair it that time. I know there was another high water event just a few years earlier. Those pesky 100 year high water events decided to almost become a regular feature of the river.

I distinctly recall having a conversation about this back then and suggested moving the house to the edge of the cornfield up the hill to the north and east of where it now sits.

Flash forward 14 years to an article that was in the Tribune’s Beacon News on June 19, 2015:

Trust considers moving Mies van der Rohe home on the Fox River

One of the three options being considered is what I suggested 14 years ago.

Ultimately this has nothing to do with the Farnsworth House, the legacy of Mies van der Rohe or whether or not you like glass and steel buildings. I think the world could do just fine with a little less glass and steel.

For me it became a revelation as to why I get bored and disinterested with “issues” so quickly. I have no clue why my brain draws conclusions as quickly as it does, but for many years I’ve felt compelled to share these conclusions with others only to have them met with disinterest and ridicule.

Which is why I now consciously avoid saying much of anything regarding issues.

Yet here it is 14 years and at least two damaging flood events later, someone came up with the brilliant idea that maybe this building should be moved out of the way some how.

Well, there’s a novel idea.

Maybe by the time it gets out of committee and I happen to live to be 90, I’ll see it happen.

But I’m not banking on it.

In the mean time I think an opportunity is being missed.

I hear that on a nice, bright, sunny day the Farnsworth House turns into the world’s largest convection oven.

Imagine the cook offs that could be done.

Maybe this is what Mies intended for the Farnsworth House all along.

Did a Death March

Did a death march on a creek on Saturday to see if that’s what was needed to keep from getting bored with fishing.

Almost worked.

Took a left where I thought I was supposed to take a left, but that was a year ago. Left was gone and now it was a stumble down a long hill, through two swamps, careening off trees, bumping my head on low branches, tripping over logs buried in chest high grass and finally arriving at the creek.

Later I would see two deer playing catch me if you can and running through the woods at an unbelievable pace. 150 feet up stream, the same stream I just stumbled down while twisting ankles, they came leaping out of the woods, into the creek, flew across it and disappeared on the other side.

I believe I said loud enough for them to hear me… fuck you.

Well, anyway, back at the creek arrival, now sweating profusely, figured I may as well empty the bladder and refill it with some fresh water. Standing there, patiently, I look down and see what’s below off to the side, a single ray of light through dense trees highlighting it perfectly.

As if it was asking to be found.

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The scenery was stunning, the wading brutal, caught 7 smallies which is pathetic and decided to go home afterward rather than try another spot.

Like I said, almost worked.

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A Subtle Sunset

Friday after work I was going to stop at a creek to do some fishing. Just like Thursday and Monday, at the last minute I changed my mind and didn’t bother going.

Not sure what that means and it has the wife thoroughly confused.

It was a perfect evening for creek fishing. Heat was just right, the right amount of massive cumulus clouds were drifting around and the water levels were perfect.

Instead I went home, had dinner.

I then decided that with all these clouds around the sky was setting up for stunning sunset.

As I drove west to a spot I like, all the cumulus clouds moved out and were replaced by a low gray mass of clouds that stretched for as far as you could see. I decided to wait them out. They moved in quickly, perhaps they’ll move out just as quickly and I could salvage the sunset.

That never happened, but off on the horizon was a thin opening that was making an effort to grow. If it opened up big enough and the sun went down at the right moment, it could light up the whole sky.

That never happened either and I wound up with a subtle sunset.

Regardless, I was alone, which was needed. The only sounds were those of the fields, woods and wind. Which was desperately needed.

I could live with a subtle sunset.

And that it was. The opening on the horizon kept trying to open up, the sun tried to light up the sky and for a brief moment it looked like it all might come together.

And just like that, in a brief moment, it was gone.

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Trout Is Good With Beer

Trout IS good with beer. I’m sure I can pick a trout species and find the perfect Sam Adams flavor to pair with it.

I have no doubt there are those out there scoffing and have an extensive list of white wines that would be better if only they could actually get themselves to eat one of their precious trout.

But I like beer.

Which is all besides the point. Point being, I thought I made it perfectly clear here back in January 2014 that I no longer wanted to be a Trout Unlimited member.

There are no trout in Illinois and I see no point in traveling to fish for them.

It took a few attempts at unsubscribing from their email to finally get that to work, but apparently nobody at the Oakbrook Chapter of TU seems to understand what unsubscribe means no matter how many of those I send back. I’ll still get an occasional email from them.

The paper mail still remains relentless though.

Seems like every week I get another offer from TU to subscribe. Each time offering still another enticement. Like I need another 10 flies that I can add to the other 100 or so I’ve received from them over the years. All of which go unused.

For some reason though, no matter how junky I think the junk mail is, I’m compelled to open it and look it over before tossing it all in the recycling bin. With the latest enticement from TU was a bumper sticker. It was about to get recycled when I realized that with a little doctoring, it would make a nice addition on the back of the Piece ‘O Shit Mobile.

So, there it now sits.

I think it looks good.

I never did finish my Is Good With Beer™ series to include trout. I do have one for Carp already done and up on my Skreened store and other fish species have long been planned.

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I’ll need to get this done soon.

After all, trout is good with beer.

I should know.