Saturday, July 31, 2010

Back in the [City] Again

You older Baby Boomers, will recognize that spin on the old Western cowboy song, "I'm Back in the Saddle Again."

Oi.  I have not much to blog about this morning, so I'll just share some photos of "being back" in my city place for the weekend.

(Click photos to enlarge)
Full moon over the lake

"Computer Corner" from where I'm blogging right now

"Reading Corner"

"Writing Corner"

"Bike Corner"
(typical storage in a city condo, when you don't want to use the bike room)

"Cooking Corner"

"Sleeping Corner"

My condo in the city is so tiny, I just have "corners" as designated areas.  But its sufficient for me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Platinum Bike Town

I just found this doing a Google search for bike-friendly towns.  I'm getting more and more interested in the idea of living somewhere that promotes everyday biking, instead of using cars.  Since I can't figure out how to copy and embed the short video showing how bike-friendly Davis, California is, I've included the link to click to see it.

Now I have to go Googlemap Davis and see where it is.  Being in CA, I doubt that I could afford real estate there.  But the search begins.

One of the Pleasures of Biking

Saw this photo on one of my favorite blogs, Ride a Bike, Change Your Life.  Had to repost it here, because the same thing happened to me a few years ago with my bike and the friendly Grant Park (Chicago) squirrels!  (And I thought my experience was unique.  Ha!)

17 Years of Silence

Travel Solo in Silence… at least some of the time.
Posted on October 15, 2009 - by Janice
From Solo Traveler

Imagine choosing not to speak for a day and the experience lasting 17 years. John Francis did this. He decided to try a day and found the experience so valuable that he carried on for a week, and then a year, thinking that he would talk on the anniversary. That didn’t happen. He continued his silence for 17 years while earning a BA, MA and Ph.d — even while teaching college students he didn’t speak. Why did he do this? Because one learns more by listening and observing than by speaking.

Watching this video (which I hope you will do as it has more to offer than just thoughts on silence) got me thinking about solo travel because traveling solo imposes silence… at least some of the time.  If you’re not talking you can listen.

John Francis says that on the first day that he stopped talking, he began listening. Watch this TED Talk and hear what he has to say; his participation in a conversation actually limited communication. It limited learning.

I think that solo travel, more than any other form of travel, provides a similar opportunity to listen and learn.

When we travel solo, we naturally spend more time with our thoughts, listening to ourselves, because we don’t have someone else with whom to speak. When we are alone, we spend more time observing, taking in the local culture, customs, the environment, fashion, people working, playing… living. This experience of listening and observing is amplified if one doesn’t speak the local language. When speaking is not really possible, we spend even more time listening, observing and learning.

Traveling alone and not speaking the local language may present its challenges from a practical point of view but a naturally imposed silence that causes one to pause, listen, observe and learn has overriding benefits.

And finally, a quote by Mark Twain which I have referred to before on this blog: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” I would like to suggest that taking the time to travel solo and travel in silence… at least some of the time, will do even more to help us learn about and appreciate each other.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just because....

Going Eco-friendly

My second day of biking my errands one day the other week.

(Click photos to enlarge.)
I started with breakfast at a local restaurant.

Egg white/feta cheese omelet, rye toast and tomatoes for the body, crossword for the brain.

Back to the library to pick up a book.

Passing houses in town riding from the library to the shops.

I've always loved big, old-fashioned front porches.

Brink Street Market place downtown

Old movie theater-turned-cultural center (Bill Cosby opened for it!)

Sidewalk Sale days

Pops Corn Crib at the downtown train depot

Leaving town, riding along the bike path to Ace to get extra keys made.

Back to town, past my old high school.

Ye olde Alma Mater.

Where I spent my Saturday afternoons, cheering on the track at football games.

And after a few hours of biking my errands, lunch at Vickie's Place on the Fox River (which I did not bike to, as it is in the neighboring town.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grant Park

One day last week, I spent almost all day on my bike (with rest stops, of course) riding the lakefront path, around Grant Park, Olive Park, Oak Street Beach, North Avenue Beach, the harbors....

I rode down to the south end of Grant Park, where my love affair with the park and city began some nine years ago.  I would occasionally spend weekends at the Essex Inn, across the street from the Hilton.  They had great rooms with very reasonable rates, an attached restaurant which served good breakfasts and good enough lunches and dinners, a health club and indoor pool, and were across Michigan Avenue from the south end of Grant Park.  And I could hop the free Hilton Hotel shuttle up Michigan Avenue in the winter!

My first searches for a city condo all took place on the south end, the up-and-coming side of the city, which I was assured would have lots and lots of restaurants as soon as the new condo buildings were occupied.  I'm glad I took my time getting to know the city, though, because here we are nine years later and in a housing downturn in the U.S. and although there are lots of new inhabitants on that side of the city, there are still not a lot of new restaurants.  Although, the building along Roosevelt Road is coming along with new stores, a Whole Foods among them.  In the end, after I rented a furnished apartment for four months to make sure I would really like city living, I bought my condo in Streeterville (River East-ish area) north of the park and couldn't be happier with my neighborhood.

But here is where it all started.

(Click photos to enlarge)
The Essex Inn
(and behind it the very first condo building in which I looked at units for sale)

The Hilton next door

South Michigan Avenue

Grant Park's south end across from the Essex Inn

Did you know there was a statue of Lincoln in Grant Park and Ulysses S. Grant in Lincoln Park?

Taking a photo break (not The Bee...this is my hybrid Giant in the city)

Looking northward

Summerdance (free dance lessons and dancing) takes place here

At the very south end of Grant Park is the sculpture Agora, 172 torsos with legs, several meters high, and made out of cast iron by a Polish sculptor. Walk or run through the sculpture, and definitely take photos.

Bonus: one of Chicago's best breakfast/brunch places is more or less across the street -- Yolk! 

A Giggle

This ad for a bike from a bike blog I read just tickles me.  Can you figure out why?  ;)

Music on the Esplanade at Chicago's Botanic Garden

Chicago's Botanic Garden is legendary.   There are so many activities/events/projects going on at the Garden, it would be impossible for me to discuss them all in one little blog.  To see some of them and new ones as they develop, go to the Chicago Botanic Garden blog.  There are videos and information now ranging from the Green Youth Farm to Creating Lily Hybrids at Home to America's Best Rose Garden to the Baby Swans Born at the Garden to Tips for Conservation and Sustainable Living to Prime Crabapple Blossom Viewing to How to Plant a Tree.

Here is an Interactive Map of the grounds.

"Want to see all the splendor and learn all the facts? The Garden offers two types of 35-minute tram tours. Both the Grand Tram Tour and the Bright Encounters Tour are open to visitors with no advance arrangements needed, no minimum numbers.  The Grand Tram Tour is a narrated tram tour around the perimeter of the Garden providing an overview of all areas. Trams are wheelchair-accessible.  The Bright Encounters Tour is a narrated tram tour that offers a close-up look at the gardens on the main island."

About the Chicago Botanic Garden

"The mission of the Chicago Botanic Garden is to promote the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of plants and the natural world.

The Garden continues to strive to meet the lofty goals set more than a century ago. The Chicago Botanic Garden, with its world-renowned plant collections and displays, is one of the country's most visited public gardens and a preeminent center for learning and scientific research.

The 385-acre Garden features 24 display gardens and four natural areas, uniquely situated on nine islands surrounded by lakes.

The Chicago Horticultural Society was founded in 1890. At its heart was the understanding that the city of Chicago was incorporated with the Latin words Urbs in Horto, meaning "city in a garden." The Society hosted nationally recognized flower and horticultural shows and supported Chicago's lakeshore improvements and park system.

After a period of inactivity, the Chicago Horticultural society was restarted in 1943. In 1963, the Chicago Horticultural Society was granted 300 acres of forest on the outskirts of the city, and the Chicago Botanic Garden established roots. With the groundbreaking for the Garden in 1965 and its opening in 1972, the Society created a permanent site on which to carry out its mission. The mission encompasses three important components: collections, education, and research.

From its founding, the Garden has hired leading architects, beginning with the master plan by John O. Simonds and Geoffrey Rausch. Edward Larabee Barnes designed the Education Center as the Garden's first building in 1977. The Malott Japanese Garden, Sansho-En, was completed in 1982. Throughout its existence, the Chicago Botanic Garden has developed gardens and educational facilities with a meticulous eye toward its original mission."

But what I most love (apart from my favorite gardens, The Waterfall Garden and The English Garden) are summer evenings at the Garden.  Monday evenings are Carillon Bell Concerts and lights on Evening Island, Tuesday evenings are Music on the Esplanade concerts, Wednesday evenings are Dancin' Sprouts (music and entertainment for the young) and Thursday evenings are Hot Summer Nights music and dance lessons (samba, tango, swing, Hawaiian, etc.)

Eighty dollars a year for membership to the Chicago Botanic Garden is a real deal!  There is even easy access to the North Shore bike trail from the Garden, so making a day of biking, then dinner and a free music concert is a great time!

Here are some photos of last night's Jazz on the Esplanade, which I enjoyed with a friend:

(Click photos to enlarge)
Bring your chairs, tables, dinner, etc.

Listen to great, free music (this is a jazz band tonight.)

Walkway from the gift shop and cafe to the gardens.

Outdoor deck of the cafe.

Note:  For pictures of some of the garden beauty, see post entitled "Too Much of a Good Thing" from October 25, 2009 in my archived posts (along the right side of the blog.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My City

Lifted this off of one of my friend's Facebook pages....(thanks, Nita!)....because of its unique vantage point.  It was taken from the Columbia Yacht Club in the harbor outside my condo building.  My building is the third one left of Lake Point Tower (the building on the right side of the photo.)

I love the view of Lake Michigan and sunrises and Navy Pier and free fireworks displays all summer long.

But this evening shot of my Chicago neighborhood is great!

(Click to enlarge)


I found these photos reading biking blogs and wanted to share them with you.  I'm totally in "bikelike" and the affair is growing.  I'm biking almost daily, often times around town to do my errands.  By "town", I mean my suburban place...too chicken to bike in city traffic.

San Francisco has great bike lanes...I see cyclists in Chicago weaving in and out among the cars and it scares the sh#t outta me...we need these lanes!

And this just makes me scratch my head and go, "Huh?"

Share the Road

I love this San Francisco police training video concerning traffic and bicyclists' rights and responsibilities.  I admit ignorance of Chicago's policies, even though I'm active in two bike organizations and have volunteered for bike events in the city.

I'm going to have to find out how ours compare now.

Belated Birthday Wishes to my Sweet Little Character of a Grandson!

And just because, when scrolling back to January posts, I see I was remiss about posting birthday wishes for my darling little grandson, Cayden.......

Happy Third Birthday, last January, Cayden Matthew!

Happy Fifth Birthday, My Dear Granddaughter!

Madison Olivia turns 5 today!

Who could ask for a sweeter granddaughter?  I am blessed.