Playing Hooky

As we get ready to start a weekend, this reminder is for me leave some unscheduled time. And you, if you are interested.

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Sunrise Beach in Lake Bluff, IL

Last Monday morning our pantry was desolate, the laundry baskets overflowing, the garden needed weeding, pictures still needed to be hung,I had yet to pay mid-month bills, and I had to work. But you know what? I didn’t care one iota. Some weekends—especially gorgeous summer Midwestern days– are perfect days to play hooky.

The to-do lists, the chores, the having-to-fill every-moment with something productive hours can turn weekends to drudgery. Those 2 precious days can start to feel like the overburdened week days, if we cram them with minutia and busy work.

Last weekend was filled with entertaining surprises, as I tried to grab my free time with gusto.  Memories of my kids and friends could have skipped right by, if I had spent all my time on things I think I should have been doing.

Here is a short list of some of the fun, unanticipated moments to store in my memory bank.

–Sushi dinner with my kids, followed by going to see The Big Sick (highly recommend this movie!) where my daughter and I brought down the average age of viewers by about 20 years.

–Northwestern college tour followed by stunning, perfect views of Lake Michigan.

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–A 20 mile bike ride with friends. This workout was definitely about the destination, not the mediocre views along the way. The highlight was the stellar beach on Lake Michigan we didn’t plan to stop at, putting our toes in the sand.

 

–The former followed by an unplanned dinner al fresco with neighbors.

–Unexpected trip to the Chicago on Sunday afternoon. We were excited to finally lunch at the inviting 3 Arts Club Cafe   While waiting for our table, we wandered a neighborhood I can only dream of living in, and joined in on the Dearborn Garden Walk. Worth the wait!

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Having fun in the Restoration Hardware while waiting for our table. 
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Us at the lovely 3 Arts Club Cafe

Who wants to remember yet another trip to the grocery store? Boring! Go quickly, move along.

Not every weekend is as open as the last one, but hopefully you can accept some last minute invitation for FUN.  Projects can wait for another day. Be spontaneous!

The journey continues.

C

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A Welcoming View

They all congregated around the towering spitting Crown Fountain, gazing up at giant eyes or to the puddles or to their friends with selfie sticks, digital cameras with ginormous lenses, iPads, iPhones. Some skipped capturing the moment but were laughing, pointing, hugging, ignoring, whispering a sweet love word, lost in music, chasing, resting, reading, working.fullsizerender-2

One small blond girl in a mint-colored swimsuit was oblivious to everything but the changing mosaics and the handprints she formed on the dry pavement. She alone made people gaze, hunger for their children to slip back to innocence for one day, or to reminisce in their minds about a secret day in their life of such abandon.

They were of every ethnicity: grandparents, families, students, hipsters, business women, runners, homeless, parents, children, a dog, tourists. Heads were topped with neon orange hair, purple hair, no hair, hats, braids, head sets. They spoke multiple languages, looked to be from a wide swath of backgrounds and economic stratospheres, walkers, strollers, painters, dreamers, rappers.

And you know what? Despite the never-ending sorrow we hear in the news, the horrible daily stories of lives cut short, in this group of people milling around, brought together on Michigan Ave, there was peace, smiles, exchanges. No one cared about the differences between us. We were One, if just for that snapshot in time.

We all enjoyed the art, the destination and this swampy, summer-like Chicago night, the moment. A smile, a nod, a wave to those around. I wish for more lovely moments like this, slowing the undulating motion in the city.

C

Nancy the Creator

No matter what talents are born within ourselves, we need to discover and nurture them to help them expand, morph, breathe, grow. That could not be more physically true than for these amazing sculptures created by my high school friend, Nancy Pirri. Once a nameless block, they became these varied women (and one man) with the guidance, hard work and amazing hands of hers.

They are on display overlooking The Art Institute and Lake Michigan. I walked into The Cliff Dwellers Club at the perfect time to view them. The dining room was empty, so I could enjoy them in silence. Lovely details, varied expressions, I think they are beautiful.

My favorite is the ethereal Genevive, resolutely posed facing onto Michigan Ave and the lake, rather than into the dining room. She looked so proud, and the feminine details like the flower on her skirt grabbed me.

I am honored that I have one of Nancy’s sculptures in my home. I bought it several years ago, and I can really how her style has changed. She has a true appreciation for the woman’s body and form.

Her sculptures are on display at 200 S. Michigan Ave 22nd floor, Chicago until July 23.

C

Native Tourist

Last week I spent some time with an old friend in my old Chicago neighborhood, Wicker Park.  We walked the streets on a gorgeous summer day catching up, and snapping pictures at will. While there have been many changes in the neighborhood since I lived there, so much felt the same.  We ate lunch at the divine Big Star (Taco Bar)–cheap, hip, delicious, loud.  Try it!

We saw the cool, the run down, the rehabbed, the restaurants, the shops, the park, the community art, the graffiti, the clubs, my old condo building.

Take an afternoon and really explore your neighborhood, see views you haven’t seen before. Look at your world from a different perspective.  Make the same new again. C

Mod Spa window
beautiful use for old wood.
Combination of community art and graffiti

 

Peaceful Wicker Park–so much prettier than when we lived there!

 

 

 

 

Incredible art studio entrance under the El tracks

Another Chicago Weekend

Just another incredible Chicago weekend. In our everyday world (yeah, right)…..

a Friday morning working in the city

a quiet salad lunch, sitting in Millenium Park watching every color and shape of mankind jump into the fountains

a beautiful evening out with friends at the Toast of the Town wine tasting event at the Field Museum, rubbing shoulders with Vince Vaughn while re-filling my glass, munching on delicious sushi and lobster rolls

an unexpected limo ride back to a hotel bar

an early morning bike  ride along the wonderfully refurbished lakefront path, south to Hyde Park, resting on the beach talking to the on-duty Chicago Police

riding back north and inadvertently becoming part of the festive Puerto Rican Day parade–so much fun!

meeting the kids after their solo train ride, then a water taxi north

daughter pulled into the street-performer show, called out to a raucous audience

a ride on the Navy Pier ferris wheel, overlooking the city on the slow-moving spin

mass at Holy Name Catherdral

beer on the sidewalk, waiting at Pizzeria Due for our name to be called, eating-eating more then

hugs on the sidewalk, comforting drive home.

It would talk a strong argument to convince me that there is a better city to be in on a lakeside, sun-filled summer day than Chicago. Overflowing, stimulating, culture-blending, music-filled, history-alive, future-untold.   Fulfilling. Satisfying. C

Spring Break at Home

Spring break. We have friends on the beach right now, skiing in Colorado, visiting family in snowy Minneapolis, but we are hanging around home this week. So lucky we are, to have Chicago just a car ride away–with so much to do–and other local friends to explore with us.

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is still stunningly free, right along beautiful Lake Michigan.  My first winter visit there in years, the polar bear was joyful, the sea lion doing flips, no crowds, no lines.  I have mixed feelings about zoos–animals in captivity, but I know their homes are disappearing, and zoos are a way to educate our kids about conservation and show how beautiful, intriguing, and sometimes cruel the animal world can be.

Lioness sunning

 

On the north side of the zoo is the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a greenhouse filled with palms, then orchids, then a breath of springtime flowers.  Amazing colors to brighten our grey yards.

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A riot of color

There are miles you can walk in this city, not spending a dime.  After an afternoon in the zoo, today we walked the shops on State Street, seeing the incredible flower displays in Macy’s.

With family, with friends, it’s fun to always see something new in Chicago.  What a great town.

What will tomorrow bring on our hometown spring break? C

An Afternoon Excursion

On a welcoming blue sky day, I argue there is no prettier city than Chicago.  It was incredible today, walking down Michigan Ave today after meetings, headed to the Art Institute.  Vats overflowing with fresh flowers, autumn ready gardens, throngs of tourists and locals, segway tours, cameras pointed up-down-around.

The destination was the photography exhibit of Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Incredible, iconic, historian, traveller, this Frenchman showed the world everyday life in countries around the world: Ghandi’s funeral, behind the Iron Curtain, New York, Paris, Italy, Indonesia, Shaghai, any traveller’s dream and his sometimes nightmare.  His hand-held camera captured the sexy body parts, the horrors and reality of war, the poignant portraits,  the beautiful-the plain-the bosses-the servants-the workers-the drinkers-the watchers-the forgotten.

It was an incredible show.  If it comes your way, plan to spend at least an hour learning, laughing, loathing. his appreciation for the frame, the math, the juxtaposition of lives, the darkness, the light, you will remember it.

My sister and I also took our first walk into the newer modern wing of the Art Institute.  Jaw-dropping architecture showing off our wonderful skyline, a plethora of natural light so reminiscent of the Musee O’rsay in Paris (a former train station), the incredible colors popped from the canvases.  Other than guards, we were the only visitors in several galleries–so quiet, so vibrant, so inspiring.  Wow, we kept saying.

light and space in the modern wing

I don’t understand all the modern art–some seem so simple, so juvenile–but I reveled in much of it.  I recognized many of the works from their old locations in the Museum, but seeing them all together was breathtaking.  Picasso, Matisse, Klee (one of my favorites), Magritte, Pollock, so many others.  One room had fascinating architectural drawings, even a sampling of modern-designed fabrics–perfect for my home.

mini Picasso sculpture with the real Skyline in the modern wing

Too many times an art exhibit comes to this breathtaking city, a musical I want to see, a new restaurant and my schedule is too busy to fit it in, or it escapes my mind until too late.  Today reminded me to take a break, to explore what is offered.  It is worth the afternoon.  The inspiration is worth it.  And the escape.  C