Saturday, December 25, 2010

Why I love Florida

Ring-billed gull with shrimp
Regular Amusing Musings readers know how much I love and treasure the greater Yellowstone area. But for a change of pace we sometimes spend a week on Sanibel Island, just off the coast of Fort Myers, Gulf of Mexico side. Sanibel is two-thirds nature preserve, what more could I want? Well, it helps to have birds that are big enough to see without my glasses. Yes, yes, there are little warblers and hummingbirds, but it's the big guys that are abundantly present at this time of year. Here's just a sample of what we saw two weeks ago (click on the photos to see the details). Enjoy, and merry Christmas!

Double-crested cormorant, juvenile plumage, at Ding Darling National Wildlife
Refuge. Note the striking eye color!

Great egret on Sanibel's fishing pier
Snowy egret, at Sanibel Marina
Boat-tailed grackle
Great blue heron, Captiva Island
Pair of nesting ospreys, under the Sanibel Lighthouse

White ibis, with pretty blues

Wood stork, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Brown pelicans, Ding Darling
White pelican (and great white egret), Ding Darling
Roseate spoonbill, a standout even at this distance (and ibises and a gull)

Monday, December 20, 2010

What is so marvelous about photography

We've just returned from a week in Sanibel, Florida. Sanibel, an island off the coast of Fort Myers, is two-thirds nature preserve. Need I say more?

(please click photo to enlarge for full effect)
I took hundreds, maybe a thousand, photos. As I go through them (fully intending to post some here and more on my Flickr site) I finally understand what a miracle nature photography is. Something catches the eye, the camera goes up, focuses, and the shutter clicks. But during that micro-second between when something is envisioned and when it is recorded on the sensor (or film) anything can happen. There's literally a blind moment, and the outcome isn't fully known until displayed on a computer monitor or printed. The miracle is that time after time, the result is spectacular. What a joy of a hobby photography is!

Friday, December 17, 2010

This time the good kharma is mine

In the last two days I have lost and found: one earring...which I eventually found with the pin-like post pointed down into the car seat where KLK had been sitting for about an hour...the earring would have been found a lot faster if the pin had been pointed up; one pair of fancy (and pricey) prescription sunglasses, on a shell- and detritus-strewn post-storm beach (photos to follow in a few days), thanks to KLK's ability to pick them out from among the tens of thousands of shells and squishier things of all shapes, sizes and colors along the wave-line; one lens cap, face down in the sand. Its perfect black roundness made it easy for me to locate, although it had been sitting in the sand, slightly embedded, for a good 15 minutes before I noticed its absence and retraced my steps.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An island in time. In Chicago.

Scenic Starnberger See from the "unterhaus" (lower house), Landheim von Specht, 1963
The summer I turned 13, my parents parked me at a summer language camp, Landheim von Specht- in Ambach am Starnberger See (Ambach on Starnberger Lake), Bavaria. The kids in the camp hailed from all over--Germany, England, Africa, Greece, and me, the sole representative of the U.S.. We had individual tutoring and classroom instruction in German, and field trips to places like the puppet opera theater of Munich, where I saw my first, if watered down, Magic Flute. That being dairy country, we were given milk to drink that came (and smelled like it) straight from the cows. Yogurt was entirely new to me. It also had a bit of arome d'grange, and required spoonsful of sugar to be edible, even with sweet zweiback dipped into it. 
Photo labeled "Chapel of Ludwig" Starnberg, Germany 1963
At the end of the summer my father returned to the U.S. and my mother and I moved into a little apartment in a modern high-rise on Calle Enrique Larreta in Madrid, where we spent the 1963-64 school year. I was enrolled at the American School of Madrid, where there were interesting friendships to be had, including with my 8th grade classmate, Rafael Diaz-Balart (on whom I had an unrequited crush), grandson of the famous anti-Castro leader of the same name, and brother of Lincoln and Jose Diaz-Balart, both well known in American public life today. The administrators, teachers, and students were ex-pats and Spaniards with connections to America, and Cuban refugees and Americans accompanying their parents on business in Spain, such as me. Mother had a Fulbright grant to train teachers in teaching English (TEFL). For my part, as usual, I had my friends, my horseback riding lessons, and my adventuresome spirit in that country still very much under the reign of Generalissimo Franco. We had a car, and explored the Iberian peninsula widely and deliciously--Santiago de la Compostela, Salamanca, Sevilla, Segovia, Cordoba, Cuenca, Toleldo, Barcelona, Avila, Malaga, Torre Molinos, and Algarve and Lisbon in Portugal, were on our itineraries. It was an exotic place, like an island not yet caught up with the rest of post-war Europe: there were castles in ruins, wonderful, amazing food, and throwback rituals like bullfights and medieval Semana Santa processions. Acquisitive by nature, I enjoyed shopping for Toledo-ware, iron- and ceramic work, textiles, Spanish leather goods, and, with my own precious Agfa Optima II camera, took lots of pictures I considered interesting (and some, though now fading ever faster, are indeed so). 
The walled city of Avila, Spain, 1963 or '64
But among the things I enjoyed most above all, both in Germany and in Spain, were simply visits to any kind of commercial venture, including cafes and restaurants, delicatessens and groceries, drug stores, perfumeries, department stores, shoe stores, stationers, book stores, souvenir stalls, you name it, the goods were magnetically intriguing, so different from what I'd experienced stateside, new items to look at, or entirely new forms of things I was well-familiar with back home. At that time, Spain especially had one foot firmly in the prior half of the 20th century, but Germany also had not developed to anything remotely like the cosmopolitan place it is today.
Christmas display table, Merz Apothecary, Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, 2010
So much cool stuff at Merz

Yesterday, some 47 years after my initial European immersion, I took a stroll through Chicago's charming Lincoln Square area, and in particular spent a long time browsing in Merz Apothecary, established in Chicago by a Swiss immigrant in 1875. In 2010 it still flourishes, with a small storefront in the Chicago Loop and a robust internet trade. But nothing beats its original location at 4716 N. Lincoln. Because of conscientious efforts to retain the original look and feel of an old-style European apothecary, I was whisked feet first back to Madrid and Munich, 1963. What a sensation, what a pleasure to know all that has not been lost! Even many of the product lines (along with their many modern counterparts) --Fa, Badedas, Nivea, 4711, Roger & Gallet, Maja -- new to me in 1963-64, are still available on their shelves, some even in packaging hearkening right back to those halcyon days.
Sieben und vierzig elf, my fave!
Roger & Gallet, another old, old favorite

I don't know what this is, but it's awfully appealing arrayed on display.

Addendum: For updates on this post, see

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How deep is the trouble we're in?

The Chicago Loop offices of the nonprofit where I work, NORC (an independent social science research organization that provides data and analysis to people and institutions that make decisions about key social issues) has become the home of some extraordinary photographs around which the field of "visual social science” crystallized. While still vigorous, but aware that she would likely suffer a fatal recurrence of breast cancer, Rachel Tanur launched a series of photographic sojourns through Africa, Europe, and North, Central, and South America, bringing back hundreds of iconic (and some aesthetically remarkable) images documenting what she observed. The photographs, taken between about 1999 and 2002, were initially part of the National Science Foundation’s Art of Science Project, but have now found their permanent place along the NORC's corporate halls. Rachel’s mother Judith M. Tanur, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita of Sociology, Stony Brook University (New York), is a valued member of NORC's board of trustees. 

Of the many thought-provoking images on the walls of our downtown offices, this is the one* that struck me most forcefully:
While it is not a given that the statement is unalloyed truth, it clearly deserves thoughtful consideration.  Below is a small selection of screen shots from cable TV this morning, amply illustrating why the avowal on the marquee must be taken seriously. If it is so, the United States is in very deep trouble.

* Because Rachel was not able to catalog her photos before she died in 2002, I believe where exactly this photo was taken is not known. Please learn more about Rachel's legacy and see a gallery of her wonderful photographs here  and for more about her story click here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perchance to dream

(This is a not-great trailer of the same production 
I saw, but at a different company and with a different cast. At least it gives a little taste of the magicality and musicality of the piece.)
Yesterday afternoon I supremely enjoyed the first opera I’m attending in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2010-2011 season, Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Benjamin Britten is one of my favorite 20th century opera composers, and I’d never seen his brilliant translation from Shakespeare’s stage play to musical opera. Those who recall the story from their school days or favorite repertory theater know that it is all about a prolonged dream involving fairies (both royal and Puckish), a band of well-meaning actors (as the troupe says, anticipating Yogi Berra but most definitely in Shakespeare’s words:  “If we offend, it is with our good will.”), and lovers-gone-awry galore. All is happily resolved at the end of their long, intertwined, disorienting dream, but it’s also clear that no one got a restful, restorative night’s sleep.

By happy coincidence, earlier last week my friend and colleague at the University of Chicago's Division of Biological Sciences, Professor Eve Van Cauter, gave a presentation to my alumni club. The topic was her recent research on sleep and biorhythms providing experimental evidence in healthy human subjects of the epidemiologically-observed associations between chronic reductions in sleep duration and quality with the development of obesity and obesity-associated type II diabetes (“diabesity”).  

Here is how I introduced her:
I have known Eve Van Cauter since the late 1980s, when she first brought her extraordinary human subjects experiments to the NIH-grant funded Clinical Research Center at the University of Chicago, where I was administrator at the time.

One of the joys of grant administration is grant renewal, and part of grant renewal is the tribulation of a site visit, which goes on for a day-and-a-half and involves the descent of a group of 10 experts and peers, and a few government officers, to whom we had to present our best projects to convince the funding agency to continue their largesse for another five years.

Naturally, there is a great deal of art (and maybe science) to how the projects are presented. Whoever goes first gets to start the day off with a bang. Whoever goes right after lunch is doomed unless they’re a pretty lively speaker. However, you always reserve your strongest presenter for last, so after a long, exhausting day the reviewers will leave inspired, energized, and deeply impressed by the quality and creativity, importance, and soundness of your center’s science and productivity.  Eve Van Cauter was always designated to go last.

Although her doctorate, earned at the Free University of Brussels, is in biophysics, her contributions are to the disciplines of human physiology and the unraveling of the mysteries of sleep and circadian rhythmicity, the daily biological clock if you will. As summarized on her 37-page curriculum vitae, her interests include, among other things:

The role of sleep and circadian rhythmicity in endocrine regulation, metabolism, cardiovascular function, mood, and cognitive performance;

The interactive effects of sleep loss and reduced sleep quality in aging and the associated impacts on health and cognition;

The control of circadian rhythmicity in health and disease, including how we adapt to time shifts like jet lag.

Which among those is not of direct relevance to all of us? I present to you my friend and colleague, Eve Van Cauter who is going to tell you about heretofore unrecognized relationships between the body and the “brain” phenomenon of sleep.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yellowstone goes seasonal, too

My poor brain is spread too thin among too many projects and happenings, both at work and at home at the moment, so I've not been at all diligent about recording thoughts and deeds lately. The good news is, when all else fails, there are always Web cam captures. This is this morning's view from Lake Butte Overlook in Yellowstone (in the dark distance is Yellowstone Lake with some of the park's iconic mountains hidden in the fog beyond) with a couple of elk cows resting in the newly-laid snow.

Here is a harem of elk cows, and one bull with a pretty good-sized rack at Mammoth Hot Springs (much lower in elevation than Lake Butte, thus snow comes here later in the season). The full swing of the annual elk rut is probably just winding down now, but the bulls still consider themselves to be in charge. Of everything.
And here, the clouds parted on top of Mt. Washburn after the first significant snow storm this autumn, to reveal "ghost trees" encased in the white stuff:
And, happily, we still have blue herons regularly visiting Henry's Fork of the Snake River


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Amusing Musings Goes Seasonal

I really love the change of seasons, but this year autumnal weather has been very slow in coming to Chicago and other parts of the world I follow closely (namely, the Greater Yellowstone area). In Chicago, over the last day or two, the daily temperature has been at least 10 degrees above "normal" (which I take to mean average over as many years as measurements have been recorded). But this morning we had some clouds, some rain, some wind (it's sunny now) suggesting things to come. I'm eager to dig out my warmer sweaters and jackets, I'm sick of my summer duds! I also went through photos from an October 2006 journey to Quebec where we were treated to some truly glorious maples-in-transition. My professional association met at the O'Hare (airport) Hyatt this year, and while it was a good conference at a good facility, it didn't quite provide me with that feeling of "being away" like the year we met in Quebec, or last year, in Seattle. 

As a friend who lives in the area reports on my favorite Yellowstone chat page, 
"..after a mild October, the park should look much different after tonight. Winter storm watch up for the entire park right now...10-20 inches above 8,000 feet with 40 mph wind gusts this late afternoon/evening...6-12 inches in the 7,000-8,000 band, 2-5 inches predicted for Mammoth [the lowest elevation in the park, and so usually little snow accumulates there]. 
East of the park here [Cody, WY, dryer and lower than most of Yellowstone], they're predicting travel over the Chief Joseph [moderately high elevation highway between Cody and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone] will be impacted
tomorrow morning with 9-12 inches of snow on Sleeping Indian [mountain]."

Sounds good to me!
 Taken on Ile d'Orleans, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, just upstream 
from Quebec City (2006)
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, west of Seattle(2009)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

After all, it's only paper

This is Powell's, my own neighborhood's wonderful used and rare bookstore
One of my favorite blogs is Forgotten Bookmarks. The header on the site explains: I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people everyday [sic]. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books. The blog is not signed, there is no author profile, and the store is also not identified. I would love to know more about the person who finds and celebrates for posterity these subtle little treasures!   
Where my books with the bookmarks were before renovations.

A few of my more or less interesting old bookmarks, bought as souvenirs or received as gifts from the travels of others.

As mentioned elsewhere, I recently undertook Part the Second of major household renovations that required all furniture to be moved (more on this subject later!). Thus it was necessary to pack away all the books on the shelves, which in turn afforded the chance for a little high-speed reminiscence. As I pulled the books I quickly spun through the pages in an effort to bring back memories as well to loosen a few years of dust prior to vacuuming and packing.  And of course, out popped a few forgotten (what else!) bookmarks. Although there wasn’t time to document their association with the books they were in (some doubtless for 20 or more years) like the Forgotten Bookmarker does, I did set them aside.  On the whole, they were a mix of aesthetically cute and ugly, but one was crashingly painful.
It was a letter from my mother, dated September 3, 1977, typed on onionskin but well-preserved, folded inside a volume that I failed to note when I pulled it out. In 1977 she was living in San Juan near the University of Puerto Rico where she taught. She was 65 years old, an age when everyone tires more easily, and most are thinking of retiring. She acknowledges a postcard I sent her from Vancouver, bemoans the poor quality of photos coming out of her camera, and the stinky, pooping feral cats that took up residence around her terrace (because she kindheartedly fed them). Then she went on to say:

“This week went well although the load is heavy. I teach five courses. The extra course is to help me pay taxes, I think I’ll not teach beyond this year. [She in fact didn’t stop teaching until the mid-1980’s.]  The tax burden is more than I can keep up with. This month after I buy the two wedding presents, pay the IRS $200 estimated tax, pay the bank $174 on my loan, Raquel $200 rent, I’ll have just over $100 to buy groceries, gas, and entertainment, to say nothing of utilities. If I didn’t happen to have a few dollars left over from my trip to S. Am. [South America, for which she took out the bank loan] which I’ll use to live on I’d starve. I think I must sit down with my accounts and find out how much I pay in taxes altogether at this present salary and alimony and how much I’d pay if I accepted Social Security and food stamps plus using my alimony to flesh out the difference. I think I’m losing right now. So why work? Few people do in Puerto Rico these days,* yet all eat well on food stamps…I’m off to by some groceries without food stamps. Most of it cat food. I think we’re in for a rainstorm.”
At that time I myself was between jobs, but had the relative security of being married to a poorly-paid post-doc with a bright future. Although for many, many years, both while married (I went back to work about a month after Mother’s letter arrived) and for some years after I divorced, I was very underpaid and had to consider every dollar I spent, I never experienced the bone-deep financial anxieties Mother did. Clearly much of her fear was grounded in the realities of the moment, but another big part was born of her teenage years spanning the Great Depression and subsequent collapse of the security of her father’s once satisfyingly remunerative livelihood.
In fact, throughout her roller-coaster financial life, Mother lived at least decently and safely, and had everything she needed, if not most of what she wanted, except the security of knowing her money would not run out. When I at last achieved the same position, of having everything I needed and most of what I wanted, one of the things I wanted was to help her. In her last years, I sent her a little cash, paid some of her bills, and made sure she had fun, if not exotic, vacations. But she never would take much from me.   

*I don’t think she was sensitive to the fact that Puerto Rico has never had enough jobs to go around, especially for the lesser-skilled. Blindness to such understanding is certainly one of the less charming features of the classed society to which she belonged.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ya'll may have noticed

I'm not posting very regularly this month. I'm happy to tell you, though, I have not died, but my modem did, last Friday evening, meaning I had, until Sunday afternoon, off-and-on-and-mostly-off mysterious connectivity issues that affected my whole computer in bizarre ways. By Sunday late afternoon I was completely unable to get on line. For an internet addict like me (plus which, besides conducting all my personal business like bill-paying and banking, I do some work work at home in the evenings and on weekends) that was a near-death experience. Finally the tech folks at the DSL provider I use figured out the modem was blown and brought me a new one on Wednesday. That was the fix in more ways than one. 
Check back soon, I hope to fit in a little ordinary blogging between now and Sunday when I head off to a conference at (drum roll) the O'Hare Hyatt! Those of you who have experienced Chicago's airport will be sympathetic just based on how bleak that is, but in addition, the daily drive from home to the airport vicinity and back I expect to be long and not too pleasant. Let's hope the conference will be good enough to make up for the schlep.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Home Depot Does It Again

Taken at Home Depot today. There is more than one way to interpret the main message, so I leave that to you. As for me, I don't think I'll let them hang my fliers, either.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


The other day, in my (temporary, while our regular offices are undergoing renovation) windowless office, while working away on some task, I was enjoying peacefully schlocky music on Pandora's "nature sounds" station. It's funny how I've grown to appreciate this pleasantly formulaic variation on the "new age" genre when I need something calm going on in the background. Usually it's just that, I notice few details and it rarely rises to the level of conscious listening. But when a Native American flute piece came on (I regret that I forget the artist's name) I had one of those out-of-body moments...well, an out-of-the-moment moment, during which I suddenly found myself browsing  souvenirs, hunting for treasure, in a national park gift shop. It wasn't any particular gift shop, or any particular national park, but the sound track was on the button. And since I love being in national parks, and on very rare occasions have found really wonderful things in national park gift shops (several in Yellowstone, for example, carry outstanding Native American jewelry), I really loved the illusion. Yes, commercialized Native American music has become iconic national park gift shop Muzak. Even if one of the most famous practitioners, Carlos Nakai, is Ute, and his ancestors probably never went anywhere near Yellowstone, or Glacier, or Olympic, or Smoky Mountain, or Everglades National Parks. 
And yes, I'd bet it does in large part account for why both KLK and I will invariably buy a t-shirt at every national park we visit.
But the association is a strong and happy one for me. Listen, enjoy, and see where it takes you. If you like it, run your cursor across the bottom of the image for more R. Carlos Nakai selections.

  Download this mp3 from

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Renovation Nation, Part The First

In my 2008 holiday newsletter to family and friends, I noted cheerily, “As usual, there was much work done in my condo, and at last, all but one (or two…or three) major projects are behind me.” 
How prophetic! 2010, only two years later, has really been THE year of renovations. After years of chronic water penetration along the east-facing wall of my condo – the one that takes the brunt of whatever the winds of Lake Michigan dish out – and when the first storm after the condo association’s most recent serious efforts at exterior maintenance (eyeball-to-mortar inspection, tuck-pointing, and calking, from a scaffold hung from the roof 15 stories up) confirmed that the source had not by any means been fixed, a major campaign to deal with it once and for all was launched. 
The methodology met with complete success. For the first time in forever – there was lots of old cracked and peeling paint from the day I moved in in 1991 - the entire east and south-facing wall in the living-dining area is pristine, intact, no craquelure, no bulging bubbles of paint, just smooth, pretty walls, even after a couple of the kinds of summer storms the Midwest is famous for.  

But it was quite worth the effort (the contractors’, and mine, for putting up with the mess). It involved removing all of the wallboard, all of the fearsome furring (or is that furry?) strips, and, still failing to find obvious sources of the leaks, covering the entire interior of the cinderblock walls with concrete sealant (wonderful stuff), replacing the furring strips, using greenboard drywall (what you use behind a shower stall), and then beautifully taping, sanding, and painting the walls. 

A side benefit of all this is that the really Terrible Old Radiator Covers had to come down, presenting the opportunity for a long-considered project to replace them, too. While the condominium association paid for the water treatment and restoration of the decor, which would have included remounting the Terrible Old Radiator Covers, I decided now was the time to bust out the dough and just do it. So I did, not only in the living-dining rooms, but in the bedrooms as well. They look great, they’re neatly, neutrally finished aluminum, no dirt-of-the-ages in these guys, and best of all, will never have to be painted, woo-hoo!
The sharp-eyed (and probably even the severely myopic) will note, however, that the floor beneath the nice new radiator covers is, uhm, in appalling condition. Stay tuned for Renovation Nation Part The Second, which is just beginning!

Monday, September 13, 2010

When the hunter becomes the hunted

So I'm home from work, changed to head out for my Jazzercise class in a half hour or so, slouching in a chair half-interestedly watching the news until it's time to go, when I notice out of the corner of my eye that there's a large roundish bug on the window screen. It looked like a beetle, maybe a half inch long. Semi-conscious note to self: get up and inspect the beetle a little more closely before it flies away.

Next thing I know, there's a thud at the window. I look up just in time to see a young European starling poke the  beetle into its beak and drop down to the window sill to consume it piecemeal. I stood up carefully so as not to startle the bird but I was too late, Teddy was fully on the case. He hurtled right up to the window, which was open about two inches, and jabbed his paw with incredible speed straight out until it collided with the screen. Needless to say, the starling and his meal were gone gone gone, the screen has a new dent in it, and Teddy is not moving an inch away from the window just in case.
All this drama in the space of less than a minute. 
Teddy investigating a cicada on the window, August 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

For once, I agree with them

America's Got Talent is a fun show (except when the judges wax mean) but I can't say that I'm always this impressed with the faves. Check out Jackie Evancho performing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu and Agnus Dei. I'd love to hear her sing Bach, Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Mozart. This kid's got a gift. Close your eyes so you can't see she's a 10-year old, turn up your sound, and embrace the pure pleasure of listening to this voice.

The seasons, they are a'changin'

I'm a person of some very regular habits. Year in and year out, for almost 20 years, at 5:30 AM weekdays I go for a 2.5 mile constitutional along the shores of Lake Michigan, with its unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. Then, at the end of the work day three days a week, I go to a Jazzercise class that gets out at 7:40. These by-the-clock habits make me very aware of the minute changes in the tilting of the earth, first to and then away from the sun, and back again. More so, I think, than those who suddenly bemoan the shortening days and celebrate the last day an overcoat is needed to go outdoors each spring.
Above are two captures from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory's web cam pointed over Yellowstone Lake. The cam refreshes at two minutes past the hour every daylight hour. The top photo was nabbed only 44 days ago - July 29 - and miraculously caught a sleek cow elk gleaming in the bright morning sunlight. The second capture was from this morning, at the same early hour. The camera is pointed west-northwest, the pretty orange glow at the horizon is simply reflecting the predawn light from behind the observer. 
I love the transition between seasons and all its promise of change to come. Chicago's 2010 summer was hot, sultry, and not much enjoyable to those of us sensitive to high humidity. Starting around September 1st, the daily humidities and temperatures moderated, and since Labor Day we've had many lovely days with clear skies and California-coast-like temperatures in the high 70s, and a few overnights that dropped into the high 50s. I don't need to tell you that this is fabulous sleeping weather, with the windows open a couple of inches and a light cover to snuggle in. 
But I commented to my walking companion the other day, in spite of the couple of nippy mornings we've experienced, I still haven't been moved to think, "hmm, feels like Fall's in the air!"  This in spite of the fact that it is completely dark when we head out for our trek these days, and the sun has not yet bobbed up over the eastern edge of Lake Michigan by the time we leave the lakefront 50 minutes later. 
I'll know it's here when: I close all but one window at night; I switch from my yummy iced coffee to hot coffee in the morning; I terminate the liberation of my toes and give up sandals in favor of closed shoes for the duration. I love Fall, and I still look ahead with happy anticipation to Winter. I love the change of seasons.
(As always, do please click on the photos to appreciate the details.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mayor Daley's Corruption and Why It Was a Good Thing

Chicago's retiring mayor, Richard M. Daley and his father Richard J. Daley together ran this wonderful city for 42 years, with several variously successful, and unsuccessful, incumbents in between the father's death in 1976 and the son's election in 1986. 
Both Daleys were phenomenally devoted to the city, it's people, and its prosperity. Both have been painted with the brush of corruption. But I never minded that, because both used their possibly less-than-pristine ways of doing business not for personal betterment, but for the betterment of the City of Chicago. No one ever doubted that.
Richard M.'s retirement at the age of a very young 68 reflects his determination not to die in office, but to get out while the going is good, and to make the best of what is left of his, and his ill wife's allotment on this good earth. But we'll miss him greatly, and greet with some trepidation who, and what, comes next.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Recommendation with little elaboration

KLK and I immensely enjoyed a little documentary last night, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. It's a brilliantly filmed/edited and story-telling at its very best.
Do see it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Door County's Most Famous Sport

As reported below, I recently returned from a great trip to Door County, Wisconsin. I went with my best friend, LCB. We go back to 7th grade, with a long hiatus in our closeness between our college days, when we went our separate ways, until about 10 years ago when I decided to use the Internet to locate her with the aim of resuming our friendship. Resume we did, it's like the thirty years apart had never happened. Anyway, this trip was girls only, KLK stayed home with Teddy, but a good time was had by all.

So there's lots and lots to do in Door County. We decided, mixed in with the boutique shopping and lighthouse visiting that we would try our luck with Door County's favorite sport: sitting in a very comfortable chair, watching the Lake (actually, Lake Michigan's Green Bay) at sunset. It's an especial treat after a fish boil, on which I will expound at a later time. For now, enjoy these photos of some honed practitioners and the sports equipment they use:
LCB working out like a native, on the pier at Ephraim
Unoccupied equipment basking in the glow of the sunset, Ephraim
More experts in the highly competitive sport of sunset-over-the-water-watching

Though it might go on all day, it doesn't start too early in the morning. I supposed that's because all the competitors were up so late last night watching the sun go down...(this was taken at 8:00 A.M., roughly 13 hours after the sun sank the night before) Poor, exhausted sunset-watchers!