Ninety-Nine Things We Like – Part One – Giving Tuesday Edition

Here is the first part of our list of ninety-nine things (places, groups, people, etc) that we like.  Our theme for today is Non-Profits and Charities, primarily because we want to make sure these folks get their names out there, but also because it is #GivingTuesday and apparently that means people are looking for worthy organizations to shower with cash today specifically.

Well look no further, below is a well-cultivated list of organizations doing good work in Chicago to make things better for us all.  We kept annotation to a minimum, but you are welcome and encouraged to click through to their websites and learn more about them.  Most of them fall into one of two categories: 1) “hey, we help queer people/youth live healthier and happier lives”, 2)”hey, we help people gain access to food in the city, either growing it or just in general, yay.”  Other than that, there are a couple wildcards.

1. Windy City Performing Arts – the organization in which Kristl and Rachel met, there is an SSAA chorus (Windy City Treble Quire) and a TTBB chorus (Windy City Gay Chorus) and the groups are having their combined concert this Saturday at 5pm and 8pm.

2. Felines and Canines -Edgewater-based no-kill shelter housing ~80 cats and ~20 dogs, they have a safe, beautiful space for animals, and a very high adoption rate.

3. Chicago House – Chicago House and Social Service Agency serves individuals and families who are disenfranchised by HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ marginalization, poverty, homelessness, and/or gender nonconformity by providing housing, employment services, medical linkage and retention services, HIV prevention services, legal services, and other supportive programs.

4. Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois – TJLP is a group of radical activists, social workers, and organizers who provide support, advocacy, and free, holistic advocacy and criminal legal services to poor and street-based transgender people in Illinois.

5. El Rescate – is a project of the Puerto Rican cultural center that provides identity-affirming housing to homeless LGBTQ youth, some being HIV positive, and support services to assist with their transition to independence.

6. ONE Northside - is a community action organization composed of community members (like churches and credit unions) as well as concerned individuals that work with lawmakers to make social change.

7. Project Fierce – Project Fierce Chicago is a grassroots collective of radical social workers, housing advocates, and young people who are working together to establish identity-affirming transitional housing in ChicagoProject Fierce’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing transitional housing and support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults.

8. The Night Ministry – The Night Ministry is a Chicago-based organization that works to provide housing, health care and human connection to members of our community struggling with poverty or homelessness. Through the Night Ministry’s Health Outreach Bus, Youth Outreach Van, and Youth Shelter Network, they work on the ground in Chicago neighborhoods to reach adults, teens, pregnant and new moms who have nowhere else to go.

9. Howard Brown – Howard Brown Health Center exists to eliminate the disparities in health care experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through research, education and the provision of services that promote health and wellness.

10. Chicago Women’s Health Center – Chicago Women’s Health Center facilitates the empowerment of women and trans* people by providing access to health care and health education in a respectful environment where people pay what they can afford.

11. Greater Chicago Food Depository – The Food Depository, founded in 1979, makes a daily impact across Cook County with a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children’s programs, older adult programs and innovative responses that address the root causes of hunger. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 67 million pounds of shelf-stable food, fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 154,000 meals every day.

12. Care for Real – They help those in the Edgewater community by providing food, clothing and counseling services to those in need. They have on-site food distribution, deliveries to the homebound, a free clothes closet and a case-management program to help clients connect with other services they may need.

13. Greenheart Transforms – Greenheart is a nonprofit committed to connecting people and planet to create a more peaceful and sustainable global community.

14. NeighborSpace – NeighborSpace is the only nonprofit urban land trust in Chicago that preserves and sustains gardens on behalf of dedicated community groups. We shoulder the responsibilities of property ownership so that community groups can focus on gardening. NeighborSpace-protected gardens give young and old alike an opportunity to get their hands in the earth and enjoy nature, right in their own neighborhoods.

15. Peterson Garden Project – hosts community gardens all over the northside of Chicago, recently opened a community kitchen in Edgewater.

16. Advocates for Urban Agriculture – Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a coalition of individuals, organizations and businesses working to support and expand sustainable agriculture in the Chicago area, from home- and community-based growing to market gardens and small farms.

So, that’s our curated list.  Did we miss any of your favorite organizations?  Are there sustainable or queer organizations that you feel absolutely should be on this list? Please leave a comment or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.  We are always excited to learn about more enlivened non-profits doing good work in Chicago.  Or maybe Chicago isn’t your home city, but you want to let us know what is going on in Portland or New York.  Start the conversation.  We’re listening!

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A New Direction for Sustainably Queer

Hello Dedicated SQ Readers!

Thank you for your patience in the past months as Rachel has been joyfully toiling through her program in Urban Agriculture and Kristl has been setting up her own fabulous acupuncture storefront in Edgewater. Due to this “construction” period, the writing here on SQ has been a little light. You have learned a lot about us, for sure, but there has not been a lot of meat to our posts.

Kristl and Rachel in Florance

Kristl and Rachel in Florence

Hopefully, as we are swinging into the holiday season and beyond we will be able to change that up for you a little bit. We are looking into a much needed facelift for the blog (because to be honest, we haven’t really spent any time on this at all), as well as a few focus topics that are near and dear to our hearts. We will be giving you more cooking posts (because who doesn’t love a good cooking post!?) and more posts about green living opportunities and events happening around the city of Chicago. We hope to also have interviews with movers and shakers in the queer, sustainable, and sustainably queer community that you should know (oooooh interviews!). It’s going to be cool and hopefully it will be something you will want to share with your friends.

We will however be saying adios to our popular feature Nine on the Ninth, love it though you may (sad sounds here). We have done ten of those features, and we don’t really want to have too much of a good thing. However, as a means of saying goodbye, we will be putting out an homage to Nine on the Ninth (and Oprah) and deliver to you with plenty of time for the holidays a list of Ninety-Nine Things We Like, which are sustainable or queer or, hey, sustainably queer which may also help fill out your shopping list a little bit, or just make your life a little bit easier. So, keep an eye out for that soon. It’ll be in digestible chunks, don’t worry!

Other than that, Rachel will be writing (unrelated but also awesome) some posts for the Advocates for Urban Agriculture‘s blog.  AUA is the main organization that works for the rights of farmers, growers, and locally sourced products in Chicago.  It’s exciting for her to start to work with these fine folks and do the hard work of making sure that the public at large will make sure they are heard.  We will probably link to Rachel’s AUA posts on our Facebook page, for your perusal.  (You may not think that you care about Chicago’s weeding ordinance, but if you have a single family home, you very well may, or if you care about the welfare of small farms in the city, their ability to keep up with simple perimeter weeding may impact their ability to stay open or avoid heavy fines.)

Lastly, we want to be more popular. I mean, who doesn’t? Well, Kristl doesn’t particularly like attention from lots of people, but SQ wants more attention. We want more conversation and we want more people to read along in general. So, we’re going try a couple things. First off, along with our Ninety-Nine Things We Like, we’re going to have a few giveaways! (Our first giveaways, how exciting!) So, keep an eye out for those and information on how to enter. It’s the ultimate win-win situation, you get to enter to win awesome prizes and we get more popular. Done.

In the mean time, if you want to invite your friends to like us on Facebook, that would be cool, too. We have a goal of reaching 300 likes by the end of the year. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us in all the places!

That about does it for the planned changes around here. If there’s anything specific you’d like us to write about, please let us know. We’re definitely open to suggestions!

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Nine on the 9th: Hidden Talents

Welcome back to Nine on the 9th (err…16th)! We actually had the text of this done by the 10th, but Kristl took her sweet time finding pictures to add in. Whoops! Sorry we missed September, but we were a little busy. Life is (hopefully) about to calm down for us a bit, as Rachel is graduating from her urban agriculture program on Thursday. We’ve got a few blog posts planned – let’s all cross our fingers that we actually write them! For now, enjoy this list of some of our hidden talents. If we tell you all our favorite hidden talents, then they won’t be hidden anymore. So, just be warned, we aren’t giving up all the goods.

1. Bacon and eggs: Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So it’s good to know who should be in charge of what part of breakfast. Rachel is incredibly good at making bacon. We like to buy thick cut, humanely-raised, locally-sourced bacon. The result is crispy bacon, with a pleasant chew.  Kristl is a genius at making fried eggs.  She knows how to get the edges crispy, and keep the yolks runny.   If she’s adding eggs to something, she has a knack for getting the whites steamed without hardening the yolks.  It’s a dream.  It’s important to know that Rachel is awesome at bacon and Kristl is a genius at eggs because Rachel ruins eggs and Kristl burns bacon, pretty much without fail.
It was hard to find pics to go along with these facts, so here's a random selfie!

It was hard to find pics to go along with these facts, so here’s a random selfie!

2. Weird voices: About two years into their relationship, Rachel completely confounded Kristl by speaking to her in an alien Kermit the Frog type voice.  Kristl asked, “Where the heck did that come from?!” Rachel responded, “Well, it’s just my weird voice for special occasions.”  As an only child, Rachel did have to come up with ways to amuse herself, one of which was manipulating her voice.  It doesn’t come in particularly handy, but it’s weird.

3. Monkey feet: Kristl is really good at picking things up with her toes. Like, creepy good.  She’s always been good at this.  Turns out this comes in handy (ha ha) when she’s wearing a skirt, or a low cut dress, and doesn’t want to flash everyone if she has to bend over. Plus, she’s pretty much always wearing sandals, so it’s convenient. Woo!

4. Google Fu: Kristl can find almost anything on the internet. Anything. If it is on the internet, it is meant to be be found by one Kristl Kwai Fah Yuen. She’s magic. Rachel will complain about not being able to find such-and-such online and then, a few minutes later, Kristl will send her a barrage of links. Rachel is often outwardly annoyed by this, but secretly loves it.
Rachel all decked out in her farming gear!

Rachel all decked out in the farming gear Kristl found for pretty cheap!

5. Finding deals/discounts: This is somewhat related to the previous one, but if you are ever about to buy something, Kristl can probably find you a deal on it. When Rachel was outfitting herself for all-season farmwork, she expected to have to spend hundreds of dollars. After using eBates and shopping around for the best coupon codes and sales, Kristl was able to find all of the gear (work boots, rain pants, Goretex jacket, heavy fleece jacket, light hooded fleece vest, steel toe rainboots, and long silk underwear) for about $250. The Goretex alone retailed for almost $200. This skill definitely came in handy during our leaner months earlier this year!

6. Whistling and humming at the same time: Rachel can whistle and hum at the same time. Like an old timey radio is being tuned or a space ship is landing, or, on a good day, in harmony  Every time she does so, Delilah rushes over to make sure everything is okay.
We played NERTS with friends and, as usual, Kristl won.

We played NERTS with friends and, as usual, Kristl won.

7. Card games: Kristl is unbelievably good at games, card games especially. She often doesn’t even know how she does it. Most recently, we were camping with friends and decided to play Go Fish. Kristl was the second person to go and she somehow managed to get through two full rotations of the group before asking someone for a card they didn’t have. She, of course, won by a landslide.

8. Accents: We occasionally like to speak in exaggerated, nonspecific Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin or Russian accents. We developed our love of Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin accents independently of each other (Kristl in high school, Rachel in college), but the Russian accent acquisition was a concerted effort. Once, Kristl was in the kitchen and she heard Rachel talking in the living room. She assumed Rachel was on the phone with someone, but when she walked over, she realized Rachel was practicing her Russian accent with a YouTube video.

9. Wiggling ears: Rachel can wiggle her ears. Kristl cannot. This makes Kristl jealous on a daily basis. Not really, but Rachel wishes it did. When Kristl tries to wiggle her ears, her eyebrows move. (Rachel is jealous her secret talents are not more useful in real life, although upon further reflection back upon this list, she has some pretty strong tools for entertaining children.)
8-year-old Kristl proudly posing after a baton performance.

8-year-old Kristl proudly posing after a baton performance.

Since we are so late posting this, here are some bonus talents: Rachel tends to meow along to songs since she never remembers the lyrics, Kristl is a decent baton twirler, Rachel is great at spotting cats in windows when we’re out walking, and Kristl can do some pretty rad makeup.

So there you go, hidden talents, and now they are not so hidden anymore. We can make you breakfast, entertain your children, and find you really good deals.  Then Kristl will take you all down in Go Fish.
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Nine on the 9th: How We Are Different

This is a list of nine glorious ways that Kristl and Rachel embody the phrase “opposites attract” and how that works and doesn’t work for them on a daily basis.

1. Math/No Math: Kristl loved math all through school.  She loved math so hard that she decided to major in math in college.  She only stopped loving math when it stopped being math and became theoretical (i.e. not really “math”). That’s when she left college to go be an acupuncturist.  Kristl is really good at computation, mental math, being a calculator, figuring out how many of that will fit into that, etc. On one of their first dates, Kristl challenged Rachel to make her do large number multiplication in her head. It was amusing, but Rachel never knew if she was right or not. Rachel, on the other hand, is Team No Math. She will do her best to avoid mental math if she can eyeball or intuit how much she will need of something. She was a straight A student all through grade school with the exception of 4th grade math, in which she received C’s because she could not slam multiplication tables into her brain fast enough. She managed to adapt to higher level math (algebra, calculus, etc), because it WAS more theoretical, but the calculations were almost always the reason she lost points on quizzes and tests. Thankfully, Rachel passed her AP Calculus exam with a 3 and did not have to take ANY MORE MATH EVER in college. The only bad thing (so far) about being a farmer, is all the math Rachel has to do to figure out how many plants will fit in a plot. Agony.

Studying

Check out that perm! Diligently working on my homework (probably math).

2. Sports: Rachel was never really good at sports, but she really loved playing them growing up, especially basketball. (Having been raised a conservative Christian, she had a shirt that said “Christ is Life, Everything else is Basketball.” Don’t judge.) In high school, she played basketball, and ran cross-country and track. She was pretty buff. Kristl, on the other hand, did not play sports. At all. She was very involved in choir, drama, and student government, but didn’t play a single sport in high school. The funny thing is, Kristl’s not actually bad at sports, she just never had the desire to play on a team. When Rachel tries to apply sports team analogies to real life situations, Kristl frequently can’t relate. Neither of us really enjoys watching sports that much, unless it’s our friends playing in a league or it’s an Olympic year.

3. Looks: We look completely different. Completely. We were thinking about the old adage that partnered couples start to look alike as they get older and we tried to figure out where we were similar – where someone would be like, “Oh, it’s your ears, definitely. Your ears are the same.” Yeah, no.  Kristl is short, she’s got big boobs, she’s half-Chinese, she has short legs, brown eyes, dark brown hair. Rachel is half a foot taller, has basically no boobs, she’s got some hips, long legs, blue-green eyes, light brown hair, she’s mostly German-American with some Anglo-Saxon muttness thrown in. Our faces have different shapes; our ears don’t even connect to our heads the same way. We do both have size 8.5 feet, but our feet are shaped very differently. We’ve concluded that as we age, we will only look the same in spirit.  If you start to think we do look alike, it’s merely an illusion.

See? We don't look at all alike!

See? We don’t look at all alike!

4. Introvert and Extrovert: This one is sort of a cop out, but it frequently plays a big role in our lives. Kristl is definitely more introverted, so she needs a lot of alone time to get her energy back when she’s had to be around people. Rachel is more extroverted, so she is able to get energy by being around people. Sometimes this comes in handy when Kristl has to go to a party for something semi-professional, but she doesn’t really want to talk to people. She can bring Rachel, and Rachel can talk to people and enjoy herself while Kristl can still make an appearance for the sake of her business.

5. Cats and Dogs: Rachel grew up super afraid of dogs, because she was attacked by one when she was three, and Kristl grew up super allergic to cats (thankfully, she’s adjusted to Delilah). Rachel grew up with at least one pet cat in the house at all times, and Kristl has always loved dogs, but her mother refused to let them have labor-intensive pets growing up, so they had things like fish and a Japanese quail. Kristl wanted to get a dog as soon as she had her own place that allowed them (which she did). So, obviously, the fact that Kristl and Rachel now have a cat and a dog together is a pretty big accomplishment. Bradley and Delilah have been very patient through the whole process. Little known fact: Rachel told Bradley that she loved him the first time she met him, on her first date with Kristl. It took her almost four months from that day to say the same thing to Kristl.

Rachel loves Bradley.

Rachel loves Bradley.

6. DANCING: Kristl loves dancing. She loves swing, lindy hop, and tap, and tends to thrive in dance styles that allow freedom within structure. She’s planning on taking up tap again, just because she loves it so much. Rachel is quite a different matter and loves to dance in as free a style possible. She loves to just groove to the music and isn’t good at super structured moves because she doesn’t exactly see the point of it. If you can impress people without structured moves, then just move your body. Part of this difference of opinion about dancing style and structure is why Kristl and Rachel haven’t tried any partner dance classes yet. They have their eye on the queer tango class, but they have yet to commit.

7. Sleeping style: This is a little bit difficult to describe, but Kristl and Rachel have very different approaches to blanket usage while they are sleeping. This bothers Kristl a great deal and bothers Rachel very little, until she completely loses a blanket or a pillow and finds herself super cold and sad in the middle of the night. They don’t even share blankets for the most part because each person in the bed is the master of her own blanket destiny. Kristl usually makes it through the whole night with her blankets in place, while Rachel is lucky to make it to midnight without dropping a pillow or curling into the fetal position because she’s cold and she’s lost her blanket. Kristl frequently will ask Rachel if she wants her pillow or blanket because she looks uncomfortable, but Rachel doesn’t answer these interrogatives…because she is sleeping. (Kristl usually gives Rachel the pillow or blanket back anyway and then Rachel smiles and it’s super adorable.) The best is when Rachel loses her own blanket and then tries to steal Kristl’s. Kristl loves that.

8. Cooking style: Rachel makes big messes when she cooks and it stresses Kristl out to be in the kitchen with her working on the same project. They can peacefully coexist in the kitchen, IF Kristl doesn’t pay too close attention to what Rachel is doing. Rachel does always clean up after her giant messes, and then cleans up after the tiny messes that Kristl leaves when she gets too stressed out by cooking in the same kitchen as Rachel and has to leave. We both try to clean as we go, but it doesn’t always work out as planned.

Canning tomatoes is definitely one of our messier kitchen endeavors. Last year there may have been a lot of Kristl yelling at Rachel for being messy. Hopefully things will be different this year.

Canning tomatoes is definitely one of our messier kitchen endeavors. Last year there may have been a lot of Kristl yelling at Rachel for being messy. Hopefully things will be different this year.

9. Good morning/good night world:  Rachel falls asleep pretty easily, especially since having to wake up at 4:45 for farm work, but it takes her a good hour to be a fully-functioning human in the morning. Kristl takes a while to power down in the evening, but she wakes up almost immediately in the morning, or pretty much whenever she’s woken up. Sometimes, especially in the spring, Kristl will wake up all on her own around 6:00 am for weeks at a time, just like the sun. This bothers Rachel to no end, as Kristl will wake up and start chatting immediately. For the first year of their relationship Kristl had to learn not to talk to “Morning Rachie” until she was given the okay.

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Nine on the 9th: Things We HATE! (Rawr!)

It’s the 9th! So soon! Listen, neither of us tolerate change well. Change makes us crabby. And what’s been going on for us this year? Basically nothing but change. Going back to school, new office space, new internship, new apartment, so on and so forth. Change change change change change. Crabby crabby crabby crabby crabby. (We are aware that we asked for and enacted almost all of this change, but it still makes us crabby to be in flux.) So, we figured we should probably write about the things we hate for Nine on the 9th this month. Enjoy!

1. Rachel hates grass/sod. HATES it. One day we took a walk and Rachel just started yelling about all the grass in the neighborhood. She’s already a grumpy old grandpa. She is of the opinion that grass is a complete waste of space and resources and there are much better ground cover options out there. (Go ahead.  Ask her how she feels and see what happens.)

2. As we mentioned in our belated Facts on a Date post, Kristl hates being tickled. She has been known to turn into an aggressive ninja when tickled. Rachel hasn’t quite learned this (or thinks it’s amusing), and has therefore sustained many an injury from trying to tickle Kristl. In fact, Kristl hates being tickled so much, that when she was in school she often requested to be in a group of three for point location class so that she wouldn’t have to be touched (also, it sucked to have her as a point location model, as she squirmed and screamed and flailed so much it was nearly impossible to find the points accurately).

You can see just how much we love humidity here

You can see just how much we love humidity here

3. We both hate humidity and would much rather be cold than hot and sweaty. This year’s Dyke March happened to fall on a very hot and humid day, and as soon as we arrived we turned to each other and lamented about how we missed the polar vortex. Thankfully this summer has been really mild thus far!

4. Rachel hates clammy hands. Kristl’s hands are perpetually clammy. For the first few months of dating Rachel stalwartly held Kristl’s hand without any indication that it made her feel gross. She finally mentioned it and now Kristl will make a point of holding Rachel’s hand if she’s having an exceptionally clammy day. Perhaps it’s to get back at Rachel for all the damn tickling.

One of the only cakes Kristl has made that she actually enjoyed eating - triple layer banana cake with caramel frosting and a salted caramel drizzle.

One of the only cakes Kristl has made that she actually enjoyed eating – triple layer banana cake with caramel frosting and a salted caramel drizzle. It was basically super ultra mega fancy banana bread and therefore deemed edible by Kristl.

5. Kristl hates cake (most of the time). This is especially odd because she loves baking and bakes a damn good cake, she just won’t eat it. She doesn’t particularly like the texture, the frosting/cake ratio is usually off, and it’s usually too sweet. She’d much rather have something fruity and baked (pie, cobbler, buckles). Or ice cream. Or brownies. Or cookies. Basically any sweet treat other than cake. BOO CAKE.

6. We both hate shoes, though Kristl hates them more than Rachel (probably because she grew up in Hawai’i and wore rubber slippers for most of her formative years). We both have rather problematic feet and shoes tend to aggravate those problems more than sandals do. Kristl will wear sandals well into winter, even if there’s snow on the ground. At this point, we should probably buy stock in Birkenstock as we usually have about 8-9 pairs hanging around our house at any given time.

You'd never guess that she was in extreme pain and couldn't hear out of that ear!

You’d never guess that Rachel was in extreme pain and couldn’t hear out of that ear!

7. Rachel hates not being able to hear. When we got married, poor Rachel had a double ear infection and a sinus infection. After a day of being unable to hear, she started to feel like she was going crazy and was willing to do almost anything to make it better.  She was in pain and couldn’t hear completely out of her right ear for a month after. Her new life goal is to avoid ever losing her hearing again.  

8. Kristl hates most floral smells, especially roses and lavender. The other day she saw some beautiful roses, unconsciously leaned in to smell them, and immediately gagged. Rachel just looked at her like, “Why did you smell it, you dumbass?” Kristl especially hates floral flavors in food – it all tastes soapy to her, even if you think there’s “just a little” in there.

9. Adding on to that last one, we both hate artificial fragrances and the smell of chemical cleaners, even things like Febreze, that are supposed to “remove” odors. This may actually be less of a “hate” situation and more of an allergy one. There have been times we’ve actually had to leave places with strong smells because one or both of us was coughing, sneezing, and unable to breathe.

Well, that’s that. There are more things that we hate (Kristl more so than Rachel, if we’re being honest), but we’re going to stop at nine. Also, we’re actually trying to use the word “hate” less and focus on more positive things in our lives. So if you catch us bitching about things from here on out, you have permission to call us out on it.

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Windy City Times’ 30 Under 30

As those of you who ‘like’ us on Facebook might know, Rachel was honored as one of Windy City Times’ 15th Annual 30 Under 30 “best in LGBTQIA activism, business, culture, non-profit work and more.” About a month ago we received an email via our blog address saying that we’d been nominated for the 30 Under 30. When I told them I was 32, they said something along the lines of, “Oh, okay, just Rachel then.” Wah wah. (It’s actually okay, as I’m not the biggest fan of attention, so having to sit on stage during the two-hour ceremony and give a speech was much more up Rachel’s alley than mine.)

Obligatory selfie on the way to the ceremony

Obligatory selfie on the way to the ceremony

The event was co-sponsored by the Center on Halsted, Chicago House, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. It was held at the Center on Thursday evening. Our friends Hannah and Anna Rose Ii-Epstein of Nothing Without a Company were also nominated and a couple of our friends joined us, so we had a good little group of people there. We got there a little after 5:00pm for a meet-and-greet and hors d’oeuvres catered by Polo Cafe before the ceremony started at 5:30pm. All of the honorees sat onstage for the ceremony, which was hosted by Kirk Williamson (Art Director for Windy City Media Group) and Scott Duff (host of Chigaygo) in the Hoover-Leppen Theatre.

Kirk and Scott

Scott and Kirk

Kirk and Scott wasted no time getting started. They took turns announcing each honoree and reading their bio. After their bio was read, the honoree came up to give a speech, accept the award, and take a photograph with the presenter. With almost 30 people being awarded (a few were unable to make it), the ceremony took almost two hours, but it was totally worth it. It was precious, inspiring, funny, sweet, and empowering. The honorees represented so many areas of LGBTQIA life that I couldn’t even begin to mention them all. Some of them were teenagers and hearing about what they’ve accomplished at such young ages was amazing and filled me with hope. For a full list of honorees and their bios, click here or you can download the Windy City Times here.

Badly lit picture of the honorees (you should probably check out the professional photos linked at the end of the post)

Badly lit picture of the honorees (you should probably check out the professional photos linked at the end of the post)

Rachel was toward the end of the honorees, so she had a long time to come up with her speech. Earlier in the day, I gently suggested that she stay away from any plant metaphors, as her inspirational speech about determinate vs. indeterminate tomatoes is not quite fully formed yet. (When it’s ready, though, y’all will most definitely get to hear it.) Now, I know she’s my wife, but I think she did a great job!

I’ve queued it up to Rachel’s part, but it’s a video of the entire ceremony.

After the honorees were finished being announced, Tracy Baim (Publisher & Executive Editor of Windy City Media Group), came up and said a few words. Then we went out to the lounge, had some more food, and chatted up the attendees. All in all, it was a wonderful event. Nominations for the 30 Under 30 are taken in the spring, so start thinking about awesome queers you know who are under 30!

Rachel tied that bow tie herself. Also, notice the cookie in her hand.

Rachel tied that bow tie herself. Also, notice the cookie in her hand.

For the professional photos of the event, click here.

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Facts on a Date! – INJURIES!

Tuesday, June 10, I woke up and the first thing I thought was, “Oh no! We missed Nine on the 9th!” (I’m not even kidding. It was literally the first thing I thought when I opened my eyes.) As always, we’ve got a boatload of things going on – Rachel started her internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden‘s Fruit and Vegetable Garden (meaning she has to get up at 4:45am, so that’s been quite the adjustment!), I finally was able to start seeing patients in my new practice space, we decided to move a few blocks north of our current apartment because we got an out-of-the-blue offer to rent a friend’s condo for the next 2-5 years, AND we set a date for our wedding reception. All of that happened in a span of a week or so, hence the complete lack of a Nine on the 9th post. To make it up for you, we’re going to do a random number of facts on whatever date we end up finishing this post! Aren’t you the luckiest?!

1. When Kristl was around 3 or 4, she sprained her arm diving across the room to grab a toy bus. This is the first “real” injury she remembers.

Kristl couldn't find a pic of her sprained arm, so she thought this adorable ruffled-bikini-bandaid-on-each-knee pic would be a good alternative.

Kristl couldn’t find a pic of her sprained arm, so she thought this adorable ruffled-bikini-bandaid-on-each-knee pic would be a good alternative.

2. About six weeks before graduating from high school, Rachel was participating in the dress rehearsal of her high school musical review and was rushing to get to the dressing room and tripped over own (damn) feet.  She went sprawling, and broke her elbow (also sprained her ankle, gave herself a mild concussion, and shattered the bracelet she was wearing at the time).  When the dust settled, she wasn’t quite sure exactly what had happened, and for better or worse, no one had seen her fall, so there she was, curled up in a fetal position for no apparent reason. She did sing in most of the musical review that weekend with her arm in a sling and with her mind on Vicodin.

The show must go on, even with a broken elbow, sprained ankle, and concussion.

The show must go on, even with a broken elbow, sprained ankle, and concussion.

3. As a junior in high school, Kristl fell down walking so many times, that she had to have knee surgery. Seriously. The first incident happened on the first day of band camp – they were practicing marching formations and her knee gave way when she popped her heel up. She had to sit out for the entirety of camp (it was on the Big Island, so she couldn’t easily go home). The final time, she was supposed to participate in a panel discussion at school. She was walking across the courtyard and her knee gave out again. She blacked out from the pain and the next thing she knew she was lying on a bench. She ended up having surgery on her meniscus. One of her greatest regrets is getting general anesthesia instead of local – she really wanted to watch the surgery!

4. In summer 2012, in the way of most lesbians in love, Kristl and Rachel decided to finally shack up.  This involved moving some of Rachel’s stuff temporarily into a storage space.  Rachel cleverly decided wear open-toed sandals for the big move and managed to rip off her left big toenail while moving a piece of her sectional.  Blood squirted everywhere for a little while, which was awesome, and it took almost an entire year for the toenail to grow back completely. For some reason, we affectionately named the affected toe “Toebert.”

5. As a senior in high school, Kristl managed to chip her knee cap without coming into contact with anything. She was standing up, turned to do something, and felt such excruciating pain in her knee that she fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. She reached out to break her fall and almost tore a cabinet door off its hinges. She ended up in a full leg brace, which is really awesome when you’re sixteen.

Leg brace + DIY too short bangs = best senior year ever

Leg brace + DIY too short bangs = best senior year

6. When Rachel was training to be an Resident Assistant at Calvin College, they went on a three day biking/camping trip as part of the training.  On the last day of the bike trip, Rachel was getting off of her bike, but the clips holding her feet in got stuck.  Her legs were still stuck to the bike, but her body was not, so she dislocated her right kneecap.  It was the most painful thing. By far. Ever.  The knee cap migrated back to it’s usual place once her teammates helped her off the bike, but she definitely didn’t do anymore biking or walking on that trip or for a while.

Rachel (possibly) writing angsty poetry about her dislocated knee cap.

Rachel (possibly) writing angsty poetry about her dislocated knee cap.

7. Shortly before Kristl visited Chicago for the first time, she sprained her knee doing a dip while swing dancing. She had to navigate Chicago on crutches, which may be why so many people asked her for directions. She fell in love with the city and moved here for good two months later.

8. As an eight year-old, one day in the early spring, Rachel had a day off from school and was just helping her dad do errands around town while wearing her snow boots.  Somehow this made her sprain her Achilles tendon. Mysteries abound. (I believe it’s because the snow boots were a bit over-sized and stressed out her poor tendons trying to keep the boots and her feet all in the same place.)

9. During a slow afternoon at esthetician school, Kristl made a coffee run for her classmates, even though she has never been a coffee drinker. On her way back, she stepped  off a curb wrong, sprained both her ankles, and fell face first in the street. She managed not to spill a drop of the 79 cent coffees in her hands, so there’s that. She tore up both knees, which is even more of a sight when you’re required to wear all white, as she was for school. She also had to wear an aircast on each ankle for weeks after. She still has those aircasts and, unfortunately, still uses them on occasion.

10. Rachel and her dad used to go scuba diving in old rock quarries around the Chicagoland area.  (This is not as weird as it sounds, but it is kinda weird.  People make money by filling in old rock quarries with water and fish, sinking small boats, helicopters, planes, etc in the quarries and then charging scuba divers to dive in them during the warm months.  Usually, people learn how to dive here, so they can be ready when they go somewhere where it’s actually pleasant to scuba dive like, I don’t know, the Bahamas.  But some interesting people, like the Schipulls, will go for fun.)  Rachel had finished her dive and was bobbing around the surface taking pictures of the fish with her underwater camera.  Suddenly, a bluegill jumped out of the water and bit Rachel in the eye. This caused quite the commotion as you could imagine, but luckily Rachel was wearing soft contacts at the time and the bluegill got a mouth full of corrective lens and Rachel went home with a sore eye and one less contact.

11. About six weeks after they started dating, Kristl sprained her ankle dancing at a friend’s wedding. Rachel had been liberally partaking of the open bar and was in no shape to drive them home, so they had to wait for her to sober up. Kristl is staunchly independent and was beyond mortified to need Rachel’s help that night. She actually tried to crawl to her condo from the parking lot because she didn’t want Rachel to help her walk. Rachel, however, was insistent and Kristl finally gave in.

Dishonorable mentions:

12. Rachel has some fire ant scars on her right wrist from growing up in Florida where you have to check the color of the ants you are working with.  Black ants are relatively benign, red ants will mess you up.

13. Kristl hates being tickled; Rachel sometimes tickles Kristl anyways.  Sad things happen.

Kristl *really* doesn't like being tickled

Rachel suffers from a post-tickle injury. Kristl *really* hates being tickled.

14. Despite her numerous injuries, Kristl has never actually broken a bone. The closest she’s gotten is that chipped knee cap. *knock on wood*

15. When you are having a grand mal seizure, the common medical advice is for your friends and family member to arrange you on your side so that you do not choke or lose the ability to breathe (job #1).  When you are convulsing, your joints are kinda at the mercy of physics and gravity and whatever else might be lying around. Rachel tends to get seizures while she’s asleep, so she was already on her side the last time she had a grand mal. Because she was on her side while seizing, her poor shoulder took the brunt of it and ended up dislocating. Dumb epilepsy. (We are still taking donations to pay for Rachel’s medical bills, if you haven’t had a chance to donate yet, please feel free do so here.)

Well, there you have it!  A random number of facts on a random day!  Although, here is a random fact that is not related to injuries: Rachel and Kristl just passed their three year anniversary! (AWWWWW.) They will try to be careful and not have any more ridiculous injuries as they go forward with all their big changes this summer. Happy last week of June everyone!

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Farm Focus: Radical Root Organic Farm

Tomatoes in the Hoophouse

Some folks find it straight up unbelievable that I plan to live in the third largest city in the United States of America and be a farmer at the same time. Unbelievable. Everyday, however, it becomes more reasonable to think about farming as a career choice in big cities and small cities alike. City governments are becoming more friendly towards the interests and needs of urban farmers and urban farmers are gaining an economic foothold in the markets where city people buy their all-important fresh vegetables. It’s a win-win situation.

However, no matter how fabulous and rich urban farming becomes there is always going to be a niche for what we (in the business) call para-urban farming.  This is roughly suburban farming.  These farms are far enough away from a major city to have large tracks of land available (in some way) for primarily farm work, but close enough to the city to get the business from those consumers who are not willing or able to grow their own food. Where urban farms may be small enough to only use hand tools, para-urban farms may warrants a tractor or a backhoe, if they’re into large scale machinery.

Just a good ole farm scene

In our study of urban farming this spring, we took a very exciting and very muddy field trip to visit a para-urban farm, Radical Root Organic Farm in Libertyville, Illinois. Radical Root is lucky because they are living and growing on land that is owned by a conservation organization.  It is bordered by parkland on one side and land owned by another municipality on the other side.  Alex, the farmer and our guide, noted that there was no way he and his family could have afforded to buy the land they live on and they were also lucky that alfalfa had been growing organically on the land for some time, so gaining “organic” status was not as tedious a process for them.  They had started their farm at another location known as a farm “incubator”, which not only helps farmers improve their skills at farming but also at the business of farming.  They have a lease on the land for ten years, and the Civil War era barn on the property was retrofitted for a weekend market and post harvest handling, mostly to their specifications.  Basically, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

The day we visited Radical Root was very muddy.  We were split up throughout the day, I spent the morning in the hoop-house (a semi-permanent plastic greenhouse) “bumping up” tomatoes to bigger seedling pots.  The cold spring we’ve had has made it difficult to get hot weather crops (like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc) in the ground early, so Alex was giving his tomatoes more room indoors so the plants would be bigger when he could finally move them outdoors.  In the afternoon, we planted all manner of things outside in the mud, including cabbage, fennel, and lettuce.  I have heavy-duty, water geologist-approved muck boots, but I was still up to my ankles in mud and slipping all over the places.  It was a day of hard work at the farm, but it was fun to see how things get done at a farm with a little more space and less infrastructure to deal with.

My mud covered boots

Rachel’s muddy boots

Alex already has 300 chickens who Kristl and I got an egg share from last summer and they are planning on moving up to 600 chickens, but this year, they are only including egg shares on their vegetable CSAs.  If you interested in a CSA and you have not committed to one yet, I can highly recommend these farmers and their products.  They definitely know what they are doing and they will make sure you a delicious box crammed with fresh organic veggies every week all summer.  They drop off at the Uncommon Ground in Edgewater, Green City Market by the Lincoln Park Zoo, or the Logan Square Market, so there’s options for everyone.  If you aren’t into commitment, they sell veggies at Green City and Logan Square Markets a la carte as well.

Check out their website here for more information: http://www.radicalrootfarm.com/

Our Friends the Chickens

Our friends the chickens

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Epilepsy Complicates Things

Hey everyone, Kristl here. I realized last night that we haven’t really talked about Rachel’s epilepsy diagnosis, save for a brief mention in our sustainable living update. It’s a big focus of our lives right now, so I think it’s time to share more about it. She had her first seizure in 2006, but was misdiagnosed with panic attacks. Her seizures tend to present with a blank stare, a feeling of panic, stomach churning, and occasional smells/sounds. She continued having these episodes off and on for the next 7 years, with nothing seeming to help. Doctors sent her to psychiatrists, who put her on anti-anxiety meds, which sometimes worsened the seizures.

When we started dating in 2011, she told me about the panic attacks and I thought it was an odd presentation, but didn’t really question the diagnosis. A year and a half later, after witnessing many of these so-called “panic attacks,” I realized that I they might be seizures. I did a lot of research before mentioning my hunch to Rachel, as I didn’t want her to freak out. When I was pretty sure I was right, we took our concerns to our primary care physician. Unfortunately, she told Rachel that if there wasn’t a motor component, it was unlikely she was having seizures (wrong). Rachel asked for a CT scan and the doctor hemmed and hawed, saying that she could write the script, but would then have to explain it to the insurance company. Rachel pressed on and got her to begrudgingly write the script, but then we couldn’t afford the scan, since it wasn’t “medically necessary.”

Fast forward to October, 2013. We were doing a strict eating plan, gearing up for our wedding, and she was working out the details of applying to school and possibly quitting her job. On the morning of Thursday, October 24, 2013, I was lying in bed awake when Rachel started smacking her lips. This was frequently a precursor to her episodes, so I did what I normally do, which is hold her hand until the seizure passes. This time, however, after smacking her lips, she let out an animalistic wail and then her entire body started seizing. The seizing stopped relatively quickly (though it felt like ages), and she lay there, unresponsive, foaming at the mouth, making a guttural sound when she breathed. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

All hooked up after being all shook up

All hooked up after being all shook up

I called 9-1-1, and the paramedics took her to the ER. I followed shortly, bringing a bag with socks, a book, her phone, and a charger, but forgetting her glasses and wallet – way to go, me! She underwent blood tests and a CT scan in the ER before they decided to admit her. While she was in the hospital, she got an EEG, which showed significant seizure activity, and an MRI, which showed a congenital sclerosis on her right temporal lobe. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and put on medication.

Unfortunately, the medication hasn’t been working that well. She’s had clusters of seizures in the months since her grand mal, and each time her neurologist has upped her dose. She’d feel better for a bit, but then experience seizures again. We were really hoping it would work, since it’s the one that has the least amount of side effects.

This past Monday night (May 19, 2014), she had another grand mal seizure. Thankfully, my sister was visiting, so I didn’t have to take care of everything myself. She was an enormous help. This time around, she was only in the ER for a few hours before being discharged. She’s recovering more quickly than she did in October, but she did have two more small seizures last night. This is typical, as seizures usually cluster, but it’s pretty stressful. We’re meeting with the neurologist tomorrow to discuss changing her medication.

As we’ve mentioned previously, I’m in the process of moving my acupuncture practice to a new office. This is a huge, exciting, very expensive endeavor. As can be expected (even though I was hoping it wouldn’t be true for me), there have been numerous delays with the construction and I’ve been without a regular practice space for the month of May. This has left us with very little in the way of income for this month and unexpected medical bills are not a pleasant surprise.

We’ve set up a YouCaring fundraiser page to help raise money to pay for Rachel’s medical expenses and help us pay for some household bills for the month. We’re very close to being funded, so if you can share it or have a bit of money to spare, we would greatly appreciate it. If you have any questions, have gone through a similar struggle with a misdiagnosed/difficult-to-control seizure disorder, or have advice for Kristl on how to deal with the fear and stress (mild PTSD?) that goes along with this situation, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Here’s the link to the fundraising page again: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/shaking-the-money-tree-to-fund-fewer-seizures/181030!

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Nine on the 9th – Birthday Edition

Tomorrow, May 10, is Kristl’s birthday, so we figured we should do a Nine on the 9th with birthday facts!

1. Kristl was born at 3:17 pm on Monday, May 10, 1982, in Honolulu, HI. It was the day after Mother’s Day. She’s about to turn 32.

2. Rachel was born at 12:09am on Wednesday, September 26, 1984, in Panama City, FL. She’ll be 30 this year.

3. Kristl isn’t a huge fan of birthdays. She won’t be mad if you say “Happy Birthday!” and give her a hug, but she would usually rather not celebrate hers and doesn’t agree with the idea of obligatory gift giving. (Her philosophy on gift giving is that if you see something that someone you know would like or that reminds you of someone, you should get it for that person, whether or not you have a reason to. Of course, this is only if you are comfortable buying said item. She once saw a $400 cross stitch of rainbow penguins that reminded her of a friend, but she didn’t buy it for him because four hundred dollars for a cross stitch.) She also WAY prefers have experiences/time with people rather than more stuff, so if you absolutely have to do something for her birthday, offer to take her out for a nice meal. Done.

On the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier on Rachel's 28th birthday.

On the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier on Rachel’s 28th birthday.

4. Rachel loves birthdays. L-O-V-E-S them.  In high school, she would keep a countdown on the dry-erase board in her locker starting AT LEAST 30 days out from her birthday.  And she would drop hints, trick people into talking about it, force other people to plan their social events around her birthday celebration, etc… if Facebook had existed then, she would have been fully insufferable.

Kristl was thrilled to be having a birthday party

Kristl was thrilled to be having a birthday party

5.  For Kristl’s 30th, Rachel convinced her to have a party. They kept it low-key and planned a potluck at a beach park. Because of scheduling issues (i.e. a 10-day road trip to Florida during Kristl’s actual birthday), the party didn’t happen until June. They got to the beach park a couple hours early to set up and claim the spot. Shortly there after, Kristl started to break down. She cried, said she didn’t want to have a party because she didn’t want people paying attention to her, and decided to leave. Rachel had to talk her down and tell her that her friends would probably be disappointed arrive at her birthday party to find that she’d gone home. Kristl ended up staying and having a good time, but it will forever be the benchmark of how NOT to throw a party for her birthday.

6. Rachel vividly remembers her fourth birthday party only because everyone bought her Barbie dolls and she was wildly disappointed.  She wanted nothing to do with Barbies because they were boring.  All she wanted was dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs… with some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thrown in for good measure. Future birthdays made up for this by including games where participants had to act like dinosaurs and Rachel getting to wear a shirt with a dinosaur on it.  Thank goodness.

Check out the cool "What-ever!" hat and the Walkman Kristl got for her 14th birthday. Also, her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to her, but she cut him out of the photo in a fit of teen angst.

Check out the cool “What-ever!” hat and the Walkman Kristl got for her 14th birthday. Also, her “boyfriend” at the time was sitting next to her, but she later cut him out of the photo in a fit of teen angst.

7. When she was 15, Kristl had a big party. The plan was to hang out at the beach for a few hours, then go back to her house to watch movies and eat pizza. This time Kristl had such a good time at the beach that she forgot (or neglected? she was 15, who knows) to put on sunscreen. She got such a bad sunburn that when they got back to her house she essentially passed out in her mom’s air conditioned bedroom. Her friends gathered in the living room and watched movies and ate pizza without her. It’s still one of the more memorable birthdays she’s had.

8. Rachel’s family had a tradition of taking her to Red Lobster for her birthday, which she was really into because shrimp are delicious.  Every year, she would enthusiastically order a virgin strawberry daiquiri to start, whatever entree would allow her to eat the most shrimp prepared in the most different ways (with cheddar biscuits, of course) and whatever dessert had the most chocolate, so the restaurant staff would be forced to light a candle on it and sing happy birthday to her while she had a foam lobster on her head. Ah… traditions.

Cocktail party thumbs up!

Cocktail party thumbs up!

9. In 2011, still near the beginning of our relationship, Rachel decided to host a fancy cocktail birthday party at her apartment at the time (which was really an excellent location for a large party!) We applied new and exciting stresses to our relationship, by visiting locations such as Men’s Warehouse (looking for an appropriate suit), hiring a photographer, and inviting in guests from out of town.  Those of you who were there know it was a wild party.  That’s because birthdays are so fun!! (Including outfits, food, the photographer, and other sundries, we together spent about $800 on this party, ridiculous. We spent only slightly more on our wedding.)

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