Friday, August 27, 2010

Sid the Streeterville Spider - the saga continues

Yes.  It is Sid. I have determined his gender by his behavior.  He can never find anything without help from  someone else - two buddies, Sam and Saul,  have moved in with him - and they take turns  helping him look for  prey and moving stuff around. .  He also depends a lot on others for his sustenance, his laundry piles up and he stares longingly into our home.  I presume he is looking for a TV screen.   Sid now also has a girlfriend, Sally, who lives on the adjoining window.  She is a busy little lady and hardly ever stays still, unlike Sid and his buddies who actually do a lot of sitting around.  Sally occasionally hops over to Sid's window.  I am picturing a nice macaroni and fly casserole under one of her legs  to feed the boys at half-time. Occasionally both Sid and Sally disappear from the windows for hours at a time- hmmmm?  I haven't seen any baby spiders yet, but time will tell.

Like many Americans who have lost their homes, Sid and friends and Sally both had their almost 4 foot diameter webs destroyed.  Not by a sub prime lender or a real estate scam, but by our window washers.  I had meant to put an SOS sign in my window warning the washers away, but I was a day late and they came while I was out running errands.  I shed a few tears and went about my business.  The next morning they were all back.  Yes, I know it is them - because I recognize them now.  There is no truth to the myth that all spiders look alike.  After you've lived with them a few months - they develop unique personality traits and habits.  It has only been a week, but the webs are shaping up nicely - only about 2 feet in diameter.  Maybe if Sid has a couple more buddies move in and Sally has some little ones, they'll get those webs back up to speed.  And maybe next time, I'll remember to warn the window washers.

Talk about survivors!

 Okay , I confess.the photo on the right was taken from the Internet - my camera has some limitations and the sunlight is too bright (thank you, God) but the spiders and the webs on my windows are for real.  Two of my daughters are witnesses to that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sorting the Laundry........

It seems that the only things we actually "make" in the USA are reality TV shows, drugs and excuses.  Case in point: I just finished sorting the laundry.  The items in the basket are evidence of  why the Northeastern U.S. is dotted with the skeletal remains of textile mills. This may fall into the category of too much information - but here goes the list of laundry items and their country of origin- in no particular order:

Polo - polo shirt - Philippines
Polo - shorts -Indonesia
Brooks Brothers  - oxford shirts- Malaysia
U of A official vintage collection - polo shirt - Pakistan
Nordstrom  - shirt - Thailand
Fresh Produce - beach cover up- U.S.A.
Brooks Brothers - madras shorts - India
Bali  - underwear - Costa Rica
Sears - pajamas - Turkey
Polo - underwear - Indonesia
LL Bean - shorts - Colombia
Polo - polo shirt - "made in Mariana Islands, USA, of imported fabric" ?????
Cannon- golf towel (circa 1990) - U.S.A.
Chicago Cubs - hand towel - China
Calvin Klein - underwear - Sri Lanka
LL Bean -polo shirt- Thailand
Lincoln Park Zoo - t-shirt- Honduras
LL Bean - shorts- China
Fresh Produce - shirt - U.S.A                                                  
Gear - Chatham Sweatshirt - Guatemala
Tommy Hilfiger - shorts - China
Tommy Hilfiger - shorts- Indonesia
Orvis - shirt- Thailand
No name bargain sweatpants from Falmouth, Mass. sidewalk sale - U.S.A.
 Gear -U Conn Women's championship polo shirt -India
Gildan - Sabino Canyon shirt - Honduras
SABAKU - shirt from Eileen's of Tucson - U.S.A. (Tucson, Arizona)
Fieldcrest - bathroom towels - India
Target Home - bathroom towels - India
Springmaid - sheets and pillow cases - U.S.A.

I am now on a mission to find things made in the U.S.A.  Can't wait to tackle my shoe rack,  medicine chest and kitchen cabinets.  Hope there's some good news there.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Brawl on the Beach

I went to the beach today.  I sat myself, my chair and my belongings ( wallet, water bottle, phone, keys and towel) in the sand facing the beach restaurant.  Not because I wanted to face the place, but because that was where the sun was.  I left my stuff and went for my usual walk - from Oak Street to Division Street.  I do it for exercise and also to seek out old beach friends.  On my way I met Jose, who was selling ice cream goodies from his hand propelled truck down the lakefront.  The  kids were so excited to have him and his offerings from $1.00 and up.  It was a really hot day.

I got back to my spot on the beach - popular news about crime in Chicago not withstanding, all my possesions ( who needs them?) were still in place and I continued to enjoy my day.  This is when  the fiscal conservative and the social liberal in my life  came to blows. It was a real beach brawl in my head.
Jose and his truck had reached the southern end of the beach, where I reside, and was handing Popsicles to my beach neighbors for their $3.00 when two thugs from the beach restaurant ran down and grabbed Jose's cart.  Saying " We're going to dump   your f---in wagon  in the f---in' lake" and get your ass out of here - sorry kids- you'll have to excuse us ..................

Okay - so the restaurant owner  pays thousands of $$ for the permit from his friend the Alderman and the Ice
Cream vendor only pays about $50. for a street peddlers license.  Why couldn't the guy who is going to make millions this weekend at the Air and Water show let the hard working ice cream vendor make a few honest bucks for his family?  And why the angry rhetoric?

Why am I thinking of not buying the $12.00 glass of wine at the restaurant and seriously considering  trying a $1.50 snow cone?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There's More to the Newberry Than the Book Fair

To family historians, the Newberry Library is a gem of genealogy research.  To world explorers it is a treasure trove of maps, half a million to be precise. To plain lovers of books and history the 123 year old Newberry is a repository for 1.5 million books and 5 million pages of manuscripts dating from the middle ages up to modern times.

For me, it is a place of many delights - a place to party - I've been to weddings and fundraisers there.  A place to hide I've spent many an hour just browsing and learning.  But most importantly it's a place to exercise - my mind, that is.

Shortly before I retired, I decided to follow my husband's lead and start preparing for the after- career phase of my life.  I have loved to write since I was a child and the Newberry Library Seminars Program offered several classes that fit my schedule.  I have now taken these classes almost every Fall and Spring ever since.  This Summer, I even gave up some beach Saturdays for one.

Carol LaChapelle at BugHouse Square
What got me hooked was the first Carol LaChapelle class I took The Mind at Work:Writing the Personal  Essay. Carol is a teacher, writer, writing coach and author of Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories.   As a bonus, she is a fun person who loves sharing her gift with others.  She is, without a doubt, the reason I am as far along on my beach stories as I am.  She's also one of those who encouraged me to start this blog. Even thought I've participated in all the workshops she offers through the Newberry, I still continue to sign up a few times a year.  I call it a "jump start" that we all  need, no matter what field we pursue.  I may never be a published writer, as she is, but I'm enjoying writing and at this stage of my life that's what it's all about.

There are other fine offerings in the Newberry Library Seminars Program and fall classes, which start in September are open for registration now.  If you've got the writing bug, I highly recommend you start with one of Carol's workshops. 

Main Debate- Gun Control
The day of our last class this summer happened to be the day of the BugHouse Square Debates, presented by the Newberry in Washington Park, across from the front steps of the library.  The debates are held annually to celebrate the First Amendment and to commemorate  and revive the very spirited, spontaneous debates that prevailed at that location from the 1910s until the 1960s.  Orators from every walk of life, political persuasion and social point of view engaged in heated exchanges espousing their causes.  Heckling was encouraged then as it is now.  It's a fun way to spend a Saturday after you have filled your shopping bags with books from the Newberry Library Book Fair. 

This year's main debate topic was Gun Control in the City. The debaters were sincere,  made many great points and elicited some excitement from the crowd.  Still,  I long for the bombastic orators of yesteryear, there must be some still out there.  Or maybe we can just re-enact some of our family dinner conversations from the past.  In any event, it's great to celebrate freedom of speech. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Joy at the End of July

Funny how we react differently to very similar things.  I  recently dubbed a pile of unread magazines a "scary monster in the house".  I started this weekend by acquiring  a pile three times taller and I'm not the least bit scared. I'm actually jumping for joy.

 Because this pile is books  from the Newberry Library Book Fair and I'm dying to read them slowly and carefully - savoring each word. I salivate when I walk past them. I think it's because the magazines stirred a feeling of deadline, whereas the books stir feeling of take your time - enjoy.

By the way, I've dealt with the magazines in my own way - selective reading, laundry room sharing, and farming out to my kids took the pile down and it's now just a matter of taking one to the beach each time  I go to thumb through as a warm up for my book reading.

If you've never been to the Newberry Library Book Fair and you're a reader, you need to treat yourself to a trip there next spring when they have one devoted only to mystery writers and again next summer when you can purchase anything from antique classics and scholarly tomes to the latest pulp fiction, CDs and DVDs. 

Just walking through the Newberry Library and seeing and smelling and touching some of the tens of thousands of volumes all in one place,rubbing shoulders (and elbows and hips) with other book lovers gives me a feeling of well being and oneness with my fellow man. Well, maybe not the guy who gets there before me every year and gets help from the volunteers, who squirrel away his favorite authors for him. He and I happen to like the same authors. Maybe next year I'll beat him to some of them.

Kindle lovers need not apply.