Life in the Slow Lane

My employment-free ride of the day was to the drug store to pick up a prescription and to the pet store to stock up on cat food. I know, I live such a glamorous life. But wait, it gets really exciting – I forgot my lock key in my garage. What a plot twist! So at the drug store I had to use the drive-through window and the pet store was nice enough to let me bring Oma inside. Whew, crisis averted! As you can see in the picture, I got a lot of cat food – both wet and dry. I am so rock ‘n roll with my bike and my cat food.



I have been volunteering a bit at the local bike advocacy group and at a pro bono legal clinic, and I simply wear light summer dresses and  throw a cardigan on when I reach my destination to look professional.  Much better than having to wear a full suit.  As seen in my outfits from yesterday and today below, I realized that I have a lot of knee-length blue dresses – at least 6. I guess if I had to pick a cycling uniform, that would be it :)  These are perfect for cycling because they’re very airy but long enough to stay put.

Blue Dress # 1

Blue Dress # 1

Blue Dress # 2

Blue Dress # 2

So here’s a very important question: If you were job-free and had all day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do (other than look for a new job, of course)?  I’m trying to get out more and do the cool stuff that I always dreamed of doing when I was stuck at my desk.  Keep in mind that it must be either free or very inexpensive.  Tomorrow I plan on going to the Art Institute, Chicago’s major art museum.  Ride my bike there, of course.  Take pictures in Grant Park.  Maybe get a gelato.  Stuff like that.  Any other ideas?

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24 thoughts on “Life in the Slow Lane

  1. Mamavee says:

    hmmm. I am job free but have little kids to deal with. But I would troll museams for sure. I would hang out in knitting shops and buy a little yarn and sit and knit. I already spend a lot of time at the library reading periodicals ( more of a winter favorite) cafe hanging out too.

    WHen I was young and broke and job free I would have picnics a lot during hte summer. Pack a lunch and walk to central park and sit and eat and chill and people watch.

    SAdly whenever I have too much free time on my hands it tends to lead to shopping. when I was a broke student I would wander the streets and window shop. Now I always end up buying something if I window shop too seriously.

    are there free music events? god- I used to have so much fun with my free time in my youth.

    • Mamavee says:

      I like that I say I spend “a lot of time” reading at the library. That is clearly my fantasy life. Actually I can count on one hand that I’ve had a good chunk of time to do this in the past 3 years… Just in case your readers think this SAHM sits around and eats bon bons all day ;-)

      • dottie says:

        No one would ever think that! The library is a great idea. I live very close to my local branch. I was considering borrowing a fancy French cookbook that I can’t afford to buy (Thomas Keller) and attempting from-scratch gnocchi. Risky, but at least it would keep me busy while developing a skill. Unfortunately, I turned down all my mom’s offers to learn how to crochet and sew when I was growing up.

        • Mamavee says:

          Oohh- that’s a good one. I remember spending one monday holiday making fresh pasta. I think trying out some difficult dishes sounds like a lot of fun. Farmer’s market? You could be all foodie and buy fresh stuff and make masterpieces. Oma would enjoy this a lot I bet.

          Learning to knit is actually pretty easy. Scarfs for the holidays for all….

        • Trisha says:

          I was just going to suggest cooking! From scratch gnocchi is fun.

  2. E A says:

    If you go to the Art Institute, definitely go after 5pm when it’s free!!! :-) My suggestion is to go to Grant Park first, then ice cream, then the museum for free. ;-) Oooh… and maybe on your way downtown you’ll be able to catch the planes practicing for the Air & Water Show.

    The MCA is free on Tuesdays and there’s a farmers market out on their plaza on Tuesdays, too.

    Hmm… I’ll have to think of more cool stuff.

  3. tom says:

    Go on a bicycle tour. It doesn’t haven’t to be a long one like those at [url][/url]

    Holland Michigan is relatively close. [url][/url] Also it might be fun to bike to Milwaukee and/or Madison WI.

    • dottie says:

      That’s a good idea. I know there’s some sort of bike trail from Chicago to Milwaukee. I don’t have a car, so I could only go to Holland if Amtrak has service. Hmm…

  4. Lugged Steel Larry says:

    We have had major layoffs at my company this year. Given the amount of severance I had my wife agreed to let me ride cross country this summer. Alas, I am still employed so there is no cross country trip for me. At least I am still saving for next year’s bike tour in France.

    If you have access to a road bike you should give some longer rides a try. Actually the Betty Foy is a good bike for 20 to 30 mile rides. One of the most enjoyable things for me is to take a 60 to 100 mile ride out into the country. It is important that there be good scenery and good food stops along the route.

    What brand basket is that on Oma?

    • dottie says:

      I can’t think of good, long, scenic, peaceful rides in Chicago other than the same-old lakefront trail. I’m sure there must be something.

      The basket is Hershberger’s, an Amish family. I bought it from Velo Orange, but I don’t think they have it anymore.

  5. Aaron says:

    I have family in Skokie and thus rode out there from Boulder, CO, at the end of June. During my week there, I explored some of the bike routes based on this map (, click to explore), which I’m guessing you’re aware of. It seems that there are several good options for longer rides. One can take the lake trail south to Indiana; and one can take bike routes and forest preserve paths north or west out of the metropolitan area. The areas west of the metropolitan area are surprisingly beautiful, with some gentle rolling hills.

    From experience, I can’t recommend taking a prized bicycle on Amtrak (at least on the routes that require boxing it); they don’t treat bicycles well. My bicycle is meant to take a beating and keep on grinning, but the Betty Foy might not like it. You might consider obtaining a steel-frame road bike from Craigslist for Amtrak-based touring.

    You mentioned that you don’t know how to crochet or sew and wished that you did; now is a great time to learn. My wife learned recently to crochet and has completed some awesome projects, including a cute sun hat for when she takes off her helmet. I’ve also taken up several skill-based hobbies (e.g., unicycling) as an adult and found the learning process quite rewarding. When “adult stuff”-stress gets to me, I get a lot more out of learning new skills in these hobbies than, say, from reading a good book.

    You also write well, so you might consider choosing a topic to investigate and write about. I would think your pro bono legal work would provide plenty of inspiration along these lines.

  6. lorenza says:

    Hello Dottie! Go for gnocchi!! They are so easy honestly and very yummy! :) only thing is you have to work with flour and mashed potatoes when they are still hot!! Go for an italian recipe though (I know I am bias!) ;) :D lol! Perfect with a fresh simple tomatoes sauce and lots of fresh basil! Or home made pesto!

    I concur about crochet, so relaxing! My aunt taught me the basics, but I learnt properly using YouTube (I have a post on my blog about it)…

    Art Galleries are always great, and they usually have lovely cafeterias too!

    I love charity shops and small independent designer/artists so I always indulge in paying them a visit, even if it’s just ‘window shopping’ and going to our local Design & Crafts Centre.

    Enjoy the park and the ice creams!!

    L xxx

    • Lorenza says:

      I don’t know why my comments don’t link back to my blog :( so I have to log out first… peculiar! Anyhow, in case you wanted to check the YouTube videos for crochet :) L xxx

  7. I am not job-free, but I have flexible hours, so I do get to ride around on my bike a lot during the daytime. Aside from shopping errands and visits to coffee shops, I like to go “mini-touring”. You can discover new routes in your area and explore them, or visit different neighborhoods and take photographs photo-documentary style.

  8. elizabeth says:

    I highly advise learning something new! You can learn sewing/crocheting/knitting from youtube and library books (although getting fun supplies can get expensive).

    I know my local community college and parks and recreation dept. both offer tons of classes. I looked into sewing, tennis and golf – They should both have some sort of catalogue. Those are fun to look through and may give you some ideas (mine even offer cooking, spelunking and geo caching!). Oh! And craft stores generally have a schedule of classes – most are about a month long- once a week.

    Other than that… I have a box of photos that needs to be organized and digitalized, a shelf of cookbooks waiting to be tried out, another shelf of books that I want to read, an ipod full of classics on audiobook waiting to be listened to, an apartment that never seems fully clean, and a dog that would love to be walked more often.

    I’d like to say that I’d take the initiative to write a law review note, or an article for the local bar publication, but the truth is that the thought of that makes me want to cringe.

    I have been volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I did their in-school program, and visited my little for an hour a week – it was the best hour of my week! With the school year about to gear up, I’m sure they are eager for volunteers right now. I know our local coordinator mentioned that their volunteer numbers were down because people were afraid of taking the time from work (with jobs security so tenuous).

    And I had several friends who used their spare time in law school (I have no idea where they found *spare time in law school*!) to become regular volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. The local Habitat had a schedule of 2 days/week when they would build, so it provided a little scheduling structure and they learned a lot about building/maintenance. They are officially way more handy than I am!

    It seems like extra time would be great for taking a more active role in some organizations that I’m passive in – like the local bar or my alumni associations. Maybe start a pet project or head a committee I believe in.

  9. grambev says:

    My Dottie has three rescue cats. I’m so proud of her for all the good things she does. : )

  10. Dean Peddle says:

    Another vote here for gnocchi. And I agree…it’s very easy and go Italian. There are a lot of good ideas here especially going touring but I will try something different. Now was the question what we would do or what you should do if unemployed :) I know you don’t really like to maintain your bikes so this is a good opportunity. Years ago I bought Bicycling Magazine’s maintenance book and took apart my bike and rebuilt it from scratch. This is very fun and once you try it you will be hooked. Not only will this save you money on small maintenance jobs down the road it truly is fun to build a bike. You could purchase a used beater and rebuild it instead of taking apart one of your nice bikes…..hey….I think my mother-in-law has an old mixie hanging up in the garage. As you progress then you can take on bigger maintenance items like wheel building which really is a peaceful exercise.

  11. Sox says:

    Are there any old neighbourhoods you could explore? Riding down streets with stately old trees is always a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

    And learning to knit isn’t a bad idea. As MamaVee says, go to knitting stores; they generally have classes (all the better to recruit converts to the cause) and they usually aren’t expensive. I am hoping to take lessons this fall. I have had four people show me how to knit, and the results are…interesting. I am hoping intensive practice with one person coaching will make a permanent and productive change.


  12. Sarah says:

    Hi Dottie! I say, enjoy the time off and do whatever meets your fancy each day! :)

    I work four days a week and have Fridays off and I love having a whole weekday to myself. I do all sorts of things on my day off – run errands, volunteer work, window shop downtown, go to the library, browse thrift stores and used book stores, work on a project (crochet – I taught myself from books/internet; it is not hard!, sew, embroidery, etc.), bake, cook, go swimming, go for a walk, stay home and enjoy quiet downtime. I enjoy the luxury of biking around town without being in a rush to get somewhere or on limited time.

    I think if I had a completely free schedule I would take some classes at the rec center or other adult ed offerings. Crafts, art, dance or fitness, or languages would probably be my top choices. Unfortunately I can’t really fit such things into my schedule right now.

    I love the dresses! I have started wearing skirts more frequently but don’t have any dresses of that sort. Maybe on my next thrift store visit… ;)

  13. Dean Peddle says:

    BTW…you say you left your key to your lock in the garage….don’t you have an O-lock on that bike you could have used ?

  14. Sigrid says:

    Try to follow your heart. Not what you think others think you should be doing. The places you end up going while listening to yourself will lead you to your next path.

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