Farewell, Summer

September 21, 2011

Summer has come to a close. Fall is here. Winter is not far behind, and I hibernate during winter. So I thought it would be good to recount some of the things I’ve done this summer.

Attended Maifest in Lincoln Square

Visited The Art Institute

Looked out over the city from the Hancock building

Attended Blues Fest

Listened to Music in the Park at Millennium Park

Worked out with the rest of Chicago at Millennium Park

Took pictures of the bean

Watched the face water features at Millennium Park

Enjoyed amazing food at Taste of Chicago

Purchased fresh produce at the Park Ridge Farmer’s Market

Visited Buckingham Fountain

Took in the scenery downtown during lunch time runs

Cooked out with friends

Vacationed in Lake Geneva, WI, and Orange Beach, AL

Joined a book club

Enjoyed a couple of picnics

Spent a couple of evenings on the porch swing with the hubs

Knowing my memory, I’m sure I have forgotten something, but it’s been a busy summer! And I have at least 2 more events on the agenda: a nighttime airplane tour of Chicago and a visit to the Skokie driving range. Then, the hibernation begins! Farewell, Summer!

What fun things did you do this summer?


Tastes of the Taste

July 5, 2011

This weekend I went to the Taste of Chicago for the first time. It’s one of those things that everyone says you have to do once…and then, you never feel the need to go back again! So, this weekend, I decided was my one time at the Taste.

And it was great! And crowded. And hot. But great!

I started round 1 with a taste portion of mac and cheese bites from Cubby Bear. (Note: a taste portion just means small.) Round 2 consisted of stuffed sausage pizza from Bacino’s. Delish! Round 3 was a beignet from a restaurant that I can’t quite recall its name. Oops. And round 4 – a little out of order because it probably should have come before the beignet – was chips and guacamole from another restaurant that also doesn’t have a name in my mind.

This is what I liked about the Taste. I can’t think of any other place where I could have the “tastes” of the city and actually get tastes of the world. From Italian to Mexican to French to American, we have it all in Chicago. And it’s all delicious!

Pilates in the Park

July 2, 2011

Chicago has workout classes in Millennium Park every Saturday in the summer. I made my first attempt to get downtown early enough to participate today. Unfortunately, I had to wait 20+ minutes on my bus and my train got delayed for 10+ minutes at one of the stops on my route…which extended my commute by 30+ minutes (for all you English majors out there). I arrived downtown just in time for yoga relaxation.

So, instead of yoga, which was the class I most wanted to take, I took pilates. It was so nice to be outside first thing in the morning…and to work out with a couple hundred of my closest friends.

I rewarded myself for getting up early with a very large iced coffee for the train ride back home.

It was bliss.

How do you feel about working out in public? Cool? Or not cool?

Read more about workouts in the park here.

I decided about a month or two ago that spring did not really exist in Chicago…at least not this year. Instead, I nicknamed the season, Sprinter. One day it is spring, and the next day? It is winter.

Last week, we had 40 degree weather and freezing cold rain! Tomorrow, it is supposed to be 90!

See what I mean?

I am still sleeping in flannel pjs and with an electric blanket.

And it’s almost June!

The worst part? Hearing about my friends down there in the South headed to the beach, the pool, the lake, etc. As much as I love you, I don’t want to hear about your tan, your sun, or your view from your condo!  At least not when it is rainy and cold here!

I long for the nice, warm summer days – the reason Chicagoans fight through the winter. The reason Chicagoans call Chicago home.

Until then, my soft fuzzy blanket and I will remain well acquainted. I can rejoice in that.

Word of the Week:  Rejoice

Word to the Wise:  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24

Disclaimer: While the weather is cold and I am currently jealous of your warm weather, I know that in a few months, my weather will be perfect and yours will be scorching. This does provide me a little comfort. No offense.

What is the weather like in your area?

As I reached a train station in Chicago recently, I saw a politician at work, looking his best, shaking hands, and talking to potential voters. Know what this means?

It’s political season in Chicago. And Chicago is known for its politics.

Needless to say, political campaigns are overtaking our televisions, our yards, our streets, and our local restaurants. Everyone wants to secure your vote for their cause.

Fair enough, but it is starting to get to me.

It isn’t the overwhelming number of ads that bothers me so much as the words and tone of each ad. Rather than build up the politician being promoted, the ads tend to tear down the opposing politician. To be honest, I don’t care what the other person did or has done as much as I care about what you are going to do. If you want my vote, tell me why you deserve it – not why your competition doesn’t.

I appreciate yard signs much more than television ads. Typically, yard signs only promote a politician without reference to his or her competitor. I’m not sure I need to know all of my neighbors’ political leanings, but hey, at least they aren’t using a yard sign to disparage another human being.

Here is what I don’t understand: what happened to this thing we call libel? And slander? Sure, some of the things that are said may be factual, but many more things seem to be implied. Are some people exempt from this law? Or are they somehow still walking within the boundaries of the law? How does someone get away with defaming someone else?  Or is it defamation at all?

Most importantly, how do we get it to stop?


Word of the Week:  Politics

Word to the Wise:  “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.”  Leviticus 19:16


Disclaimer: This blog is not about a particular politician or political party. It is only a slight rant at the overall frustrations of political season followed by a brief plea for change.

Harlem in Chicago?

September 26, 2010

“There’s a Harlem in Chicago, too?”  — The words of an observant reader last week. Yes, indeed, there is a Harlem in Chicago…Harlem Avenue…also known as Harlem.

I think it is time I introduce you to the streets of Chicago.

Harlem in Chicago is not a neighborhood but a street that runs through the city. It is known as Harlem because Chicago does not believe in streets vs. avenues (or any other identifier for that matter). Streets are simply known by their names.

Chicago is a grid with Madison and State as its axis. Madison runs east to west. State runs north to south. They intersect, not at the center of the city, but in the heart of downtown. Everything north of Madison has a North address. Everything south of Madison has a South address. Similarly, everything east of State has an East address, and everything west of State has a West address.

With this in mind, you might think Chicago is a rather simple place to learn. Giving directions or finding your way around should be easy. On the contrary, my friends. The city built this grid system over old Native American trails that run on the diagonal.

If you are suddenly picturing an intersection the shape of an asterisk, welcome to my world! Now, you see why learning the language of a new place can be so difficult, but being the eternal optimist (ha!), I like to think of it as an adventure…an adventure that just might take me to a place in Chicago called Harlem.

Word of the Week: Intersection

Word to the Wise:  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Disclaimer: The author of this blog makes no claims that the Harlem in Chicago is similar to Harlem in New York. In fact, she didn’t even mention New York. Unless, of course, you count this disclaimer, in which she has mentioned New York 2, er, 3 times now.

References:  My street-smart husband

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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost*

Frost took the road less traveled. I, on the other hand, join 1.66 million** Chicagoland residents using public transportation. If the path traveled makes all the difference, what does that say about those of us who find ourselves fighting for a seat on the “L” each and every day? 

I am new to the public transportation scene, and I often find myself giving directions to people when I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. I’m directionally challenged to say the least. A recent effort: “I think if you take the red line (which runs from Northwestern), transfer to the yellow line (don’t know the exact stop yet), and stop at Skokie Swift, I will be able to pick you up with no problem (although I still have to figure out where Skokie Swift is)….”

 Why is it that learning the language of a new place even affects the way you give directions? Two years ago, I would have said, “a red what?” Now, someone could mention a line matching any color in the rainbow, and I would know they mean their public transportation route.

 Though the learning curve can be sharp, and at times, slow, I am learning how to navigate the city using public transportation, so maybe the paths you take do make a difference after all. And what can be said about those of us fighting for a seat on the “L”? Well, I will have to get back to you on that…I have a train to catch.


Word of the Week: Direction

Word to the Wise: “This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'”  Isaiah 48:17


Disclaimer: The directions in this blog will not actually get you from Northwestern to Skokie Swift. I have since corrected my recommendations on public transportation…like I said, it can be a slow learning curve sometimes.


*Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation. Web. 4 Sep. 2010. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=173536&gt;.
**“CTA Facts at a Glance.” Chicago Transit Authority, March 2010. Web. 4 Sep. 2010. <http://www.transitchicago.com/about/facts.aspx&gt;.