The year

Dec. 31st, 2011 04:13 pm
mojosmom: (japanese icon)
in words )

and pictures )

Happy New Year, everyone!

Busy-ness

Dec. 5th, 2011 02:11 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
The holiday season is now in full swing, with lots of shopping opportunities. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust has a shop in The Rookery, a Burnham and Root designed office building with later renovations by Wright. They had an event a few days ago with choir, champagne and sweets, and tours, so how could I pass that up? I used it more as a photo op than a shopping op, though:
University of Chicago Motet Choir
(More pretty pics here.)

Yesterday, my friends Barb and Patrice, a bookbinder and potter respectively, had their annual open house cum sale. I enjoyed their gingerbread cake and hot cider, and bought a nice garden journal for my sister and a small, lidded casserole dish for me.

Saturday was the Hyde Park Art Center's auction, "Party with an Artist". It was fun, and my neighbor Marva, also a potter, had a piece up for auction. (I'll be going to her open house/sale next weekend!) There were several pieces that intrigued me, but starting bids on most were a bit rich for my blood. However, I did successfully bid on one, an abstract (not my usual!) piece called "Among the Rafters":
Among the Rafters, Holly Cahill

As I was leaving the house to go there, I saw three boxes of books sitting by the dumpster. My initial excitement faded, however, when I realized that they were almost all out-of-date economics textbooks. However, I did retrieve two Harvard Classics volumes: Charles Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and Twenty-Four Years After, and a volume with bits of Plato, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

One of the things that I decided to do once I retired was to join The Saints, an organization of volunteers for the arts, to do some ushering. I did my first event on Saturday, at a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors by the Chicago Chamber Opera, at the main library. That opera is one of my earliest television memories, being the very first show I saw on the first television my family owned. It was stage-directed by Menotti's son, Francis, and choreographed by Dame Libby Komaiko. I sniffled, as always.

In other things operatic, we went to Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric on Friday, and enjoyed it tremendously.

Today, I dug up my rosemary from the planter on the back porch, put it in a pretty pot, and brought it indoors to sit on my kitchen window sill:
Rosemary

Apropos of nothing, just because she's cute:
Table décor
mojosmom: (photos)
I was out on the town tonight, and took these photos:

Fire escapes on North Clark

Adams at Dearborn
mojosmom: (Default)
I don't usually go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. For one thing, despite its name, it's not actually in Chicago, but in Glencoe, a suburb north of here, which means a fair bit of a drive. For another, despite the fact that "admission is free", they charge $20 to park, and there's no reasonable public transit from the city. However, in one of the rare instances when they offered something that interested me, Groupon had a half-off coupon for CBG parking. I watched the weather reports, and yesterday a) the weather was beautiful, and b) I didn't have anything else scheduled during the day. So I waited until the outbound rush hour calmed down, and headed north. In the event, I spent three and a half hours wandering about the Gardens (and another half-hour having a nice lunch on the deck of their café).

Of course, I took scads of photos. Here are a few of my favorites.

I loved the look of this dewy spiderweb stretched over a thyme plant:
Dewy spiderweb on thyme

Here's a ladybird (or do you say "ladybug"?):
Ladybird on a stem

I was tempted to pick an apple!
Red delicious

Fishies:
Fish

Lots more here

Other things:

Casa Italiana had an author event on Saturday with Robert Rodi, to promote his book, Seven Seasons in Siena. It was fun and interesting, and, naturally, I bought the book.

I've been getting more involved with the Friends of the Library, and met with a couple of the other folks today to talk about our membership drive. I'm going to work on the brochure, and I have some thoughts about the website (which hasn't really been kept up with, and it needs to be). We'll have a booth at the Children's Book Fair, and I'm going to a meeting tomorrow about programming in the Family Tent at next month's local jazz festival.

It poured most of the day. I'd walked over to the FOL meeting before the rain started, but fortunately was wise enough to bring my umbrella. Got a bit wet all the same (umbrellas don't keep your feet dry!).

A nice fat check arrived from one of my pension systems - a refund of the spousal contribution. I'd expected it to be deposited directly to my bank account, just as my pension distributions are, but instead they sent me an actual check, so I had to go and deposit that. (The bank is all of a block and a half away, so no big deal there.) I'm not going to spend it all in one place, as the saying goes, but I do think this means that Dublin is definitely on. I guess I'd better start reading Ulysses!

Oh, and earthquake! I was sitting at my computer early this afternoon, and felt my chair shaking. I couldn't figure it out. I didn't think the ceiling fan was blowing all that hard! It stopped after a bit, and I didn't think anything more of it, until I read about the earthquake on the east coast. Seems it was felt quite a ways away, up to Toronto, and a number of people in the Midwest felt it, too. Timing was right, so I'm guessing that's what it was.
mojosmom: (Default)
I don't usually go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. For one thing, despite its name, it's not actually in Chicago, but in Glencoe, a suburb north of here, which means a fair bit of a drive. For another, despite the fact that "admission is free", they charge $20 to park, and there's no reasonable public transit from the city. However, in one of the rare instances when they offered something that interested me, Groupon had a half-off coupon for CBG parking. I watched the weather reports, and yesterday a) the weather was beautiful, and b) I didn't have anything else scheduled during the day. So I waited until the outbound rush hour calmed down, and headed north. In the event, I spent three and a half hours wandering about the Gardens (and another half-hour having a nice lunch on the deck of their café).

Of course, I took scads of photos. Here are a few of my favorites.

I loved the look of this dewy spiderweb stretched over a thyme plant:
Dewy spiderweb on thyme

Here's a ladybird (or do you say "ladybug"?):
Ladybird on a stem

I was tempted to pick an apple!
Red delicious

Fishies:
Fish

Lots more here

Other things:

Casa Italiana had an author event on Saturday with Robert Rodi, to promote his book, Seven Seasons in Siena. It was fun and interesting, and, naturally, I bought the book.

I've been getting more involved with the Friends of the Library, and met with a couple of the other folks today to talk about our membership drive. I'm going to work on the brochure, and I have some thoughts about the website (which hasn't really been kept up with, and it needs to be). We'll have a booth at the Children's Book Fair, and I'm going to a meeting tomorrow about programming in the Family Tent at next month's local jazz festival.

It poured most of the day. I'd walked over to the FOL meeting before the rain started, but fortunately was wise enough to bring my umbrella. Got a bit wet all the same (umbrellas don't keep your feet dry!).

A nice fat check arrived from one of my pension systems - a refund of the spousal contribution. I'd expected it to be deposited directly to my bank account, just as my pension distributions are, but instead they sent me an actual check, so I had to go and deposit that. (The bank is all of a block and a half away, so no big deal there.) I'm not going to spend it all in one place, as the saying goes, but I do think this means that Dublin is definitely on. I guess I'd better start reading Ulysses!

Oh, and earthquake! I was sitting at my computer early this afternoon, and felt my chair shaking. I couldn't figure it out. I didn't think the ceiling fan was blowing all that hard! It stopped after a bit, and I didn't think anything more of it, until I read about the earthquake on the east coast. Seems it was felt quite a ways away, up to Toronto, and a number of people in the Midwest felt it, too. Timing was right, so I'm guessing that's what it was.
mojosmom: (Default)
I got home from a concert a short while ago, and now it's lightning-ing and thundering! Guess I made it home just in time. Yes, I skipped the Oscars in favor of Mozart, Hadyn, Beethoven and Schubert.

Fabulous production of Lohengrin at Lyric on Friday night. Five hours just flew by! Emily McGee was Elsa, Johann Botha was Lohengrin (though he did look as if he'd be more at home in the sumo ring that sword-fighting), Greer Grimsley was Telramund, and all were excellent, but I thought Michaela Schuster's Ortrud stole the show.

Yesterday, I went to the Art Institute for a lecture on their new exhibit, Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France, and then went to the exhibit itself, which has some absolutely splendiferous pieces. There's a Jean Fouquet illumination, The Battle between the Romans and the Carthaginians, with some very curious marginalia. I'll definitely go back again.

There was an anti-Qaddafi demo going on a couple of blocks from the Art Institute, so I stopped and took some pictures.

"Hopeless"

This morning, I again went to Borders, where all is now 60% off, and did some more damage. They had an Italian-English dictionary, so I picked that up because the one I've been using is falling apart. And a few other things as well. They've got about a week left; we'll see if the discounts get even deeper!
mojosmom: (happy)
Whatever other issues it may have, Bookcrossing is, ultimately, responsible once again for my meeting some delightful folks. [livejournal.com profile] cathepsut (another person who migrated to LJ from BC) and her friend Anne were visiting Chicago, and we met for dinner Thursday evening at Terzo Piano, the restaurant at the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was a gorgeous summer night, and we dined on the terrace. Excellent meal, excellent wine and, most important, excellent company.

Yesterday was the third annual Art on Track event, during which the cars of one Elevated train are filled with art. The train goes around the Loop and you switch cars at the different stops. Through a local newspaper, I'd won a guided tour, and was the only person to choose my particular time slot, so it was a very personal tour! The guide was great, and we had a lot of fun. I stayed on the train afterward to spend more time in some of the cars. This year, there were a lot more interactive projects and performance art than previously, which I liked, especially the mobile runway show. If you entered through one door of the car, you were a front-row spectator. If you entered through the other, you were a runway model!

In one car, you could have blue hair:
Blue hairs!


The artists cannot damage the train cars, of course, so they have to figure out ways of displaying the art without doing so. One car hung curtains, and the art on that, one used mesh.  But my favorite took strips of wood, fastening them to each other and existing poles with duct tape, and positioning them and painting them in a way that referenced the subway maps and the names of the lines (Blue Line, Red Line, etc.):
How to hang art on a train


After touring the train, I went over to Millennium Park and had dinner at the Plaza at the Park Grill, which is rapidly becoming a favorite place for al fresco dining downtown. The food is decent, not terribly expensive, and it's better to dine in a park than under the "el" tracks! It was around 8:00, so I didn't have to wait for a table, and felt no compunction about stretching out dinner with a second drink and a book.

I was going to go to the South Shore Jazz Fest at the South Shore Cultural Center this afternoon, but it was raining earlier, so I changed plans. Of course, it then cleared up, but by the time the sun actually came out, I was happily ensconced on the back porch with cats, book and iced tea, and didn't particularly feel like moving.

Now I'm going to go fix dinner.
mojosmom: (Hyde Park)
Still cool(ish) from the rain Friday night/Saturday morning.  There was a street fair ("Celebrate Hyde Park") a few blocks from me, so I went over there early in the afternoon, listened to some music, checked out the various vendors, and had turkey hot links from Pearl's Place (a really good local soul food restaurant).    There were the usual obligatory face painters and balloon animals, and everyone was dressed to party, including dogs:


Dressed to party

In the evening, I went to the Goodman for reading of Yamaha 300, part of the Latino Theatre Festival.  The play was not great, but the acting was.  A couple of us decided to go for drinks afterwards, intending to go to the bar at the restaurant attached to the theatre, but they were closed.  Their website says they close at 7:30 on Sundays, but that's really ridiculous when there are plays on.  If they want to close the kitchen, or just serve cold meals, fine, but their bar could do a good business!   In any case, we decided to go to the Trump Hotel.  We had a drink at their outdoor bar, which I would recommend doing once, for the view, which was fantastic.  It's on the sixteenth floor, and overlooks the Chicago River, with a great view of the top of the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.  However, it's ridiculously expensive and the service is rough (which may be due to the fact that they recently opened, or that they have apparently hired the servers for their youth and looks rather than their abilities).

On the way over, we checked out the fake destruction lying about for the filming of Transformers 3, which has been disrupting traffic for a couple of weeks now. 

Oh, I should say more about the Latino Theatre Festival. This is the 5th year Goodman has been doing this; it's curated by Henry Godinez, who is an artistic associate at the Goodman, and, not coincidentally, a co-founder of Teatro Vista. It runs for several weeks, and they bring in artists from all over the Spanish-speaking world. This year they managed to get a troupe from Cuba. Some of the productions are fully staged, but they also do a lot with plays in progress, having readings and the like. They also associate with other organizations, like the Grant Park Music Festival, for off-site events, and there are various discussions and events pre- and post-performance. Best part? It's almost all free.
mojosmom: (Default)
the Internet issue may have been resolved, no thanks to Earthlink. Or, I should say, thanks to some bad advice! Last night, they conferenced in an Apple rep, who finally said, "Might need a new network card." Idiot me. I don't connect wirelessly, so no network card on my computer. So I haul the computer to the Apple Store after work today, the guy says, "Can't be that. You don't have one. And the hardware looks fine." But he figured out (we think) that the new modem requires me to connect in a different way than I'm used to. I've been on now long enough to upload a bunch more photos, and I can now show you how I spent the Fourth of July.

I watched the parade go past my house:
South Shore Drill Team

Then I went to the park and listened to jazz (though I didn't stay long - it was way too hot!):
Jazz band

After dinner (veal burgers with a mint/lemon/butter sauce, golden beets, and a cucumber & tomato salad), I wandered down to the lakefront to watch the fireworks. Instead of one monster show, the city had three sets of lakefront fireworks this year: one on the north side, one downtown and one near me. I got to the park about half an hour before they started, found a nice spot on the rocks, and enjoyed the show:
Fireworks - 7/4/2010
mojosmom: (Music)
Chicago's own legendary saxophonist Fred Anderson died yesterday, at the age of 81.


Fred Anderson's jazz hands
Originally uploaded by mojosmom.



From the Chicago Tribune
mojosmom: (photos)
Yesterday, as I was driving to the farmers' market, I did a double-take when I saw this:
Hey, lady, there's a cow on your roof!

Today, I went out on the back porch to have a cup of tea and do my Italian homework in the gorgeous weather, glanced down to the alley, and saw:
Scarecrow in the alley

I have no idea why cows and scarecrows are suddenly appearing in this very urban environment!
mojosmom: (Hyde Park)
I started the day by going to an estate sale. Two books, a DVD, three CDs, a decorative plate, a crocheted pillowcase, a mug and some coasters later, and after having dropped that stuff at home, I headed off to my first farmers' market of the season. (It actually opened last week, but I was doing to many other things to get there.) I didn't actually buy a lot of produce, just some salad greens, a couple of tomatoes and some asparagus, since I'm going to be leaving town mid-week, but I did get some cupcakes from the Brown Sugar Bakery and a lovely veal chop from Mint Creek Farm. I know their lamb is good, so I decided to try their veal.

You know, between Saturday morning at the grocery store, and Saturday morning at the farmers' market, who needs to fix lunch? Chef Courtney Nzeribe was fixing lamb sliders with rhubarb-onion sauce:
Lamb sliders with rhubarb-onion sauce

and Stephanie Izard (the Top Chef winner) and her sous-chefs from Art Smith's Common Threads program were passing out high-class sloppy joes:
High-class sloppy joe

After the farmers' market, I went grocery shopping and there were the usual people handing out samples (pizza and chicken bratwurst today), and of course they always have samples of various fruits, and bread to dunk in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and cheeses, and salsas, etc.

The morning was rather overcast, but the sun seems to be trying to come out. I think I'm going to put my winter clothes away, and get my spring/summer things out!
mojosmom: (Italian)
The day started not so great. I couldn't find my cellphone! It wasn't in my room, it wasn't in the sitting room where I'd been using the computer the evening before. Fortunately, it did turn up at the restaurant where I'd had dinner, but I was panicking there for a bit.

I began the day at the Palazzo Pitti:
Pitti Palace

Talk about art overload! Rooms full of Raphaels, Ghirlandaios, et al., and ceilings all over bas-reliefs and paintings. Suddenly, in the midst of all the religious and allegorical art, and portraits of the rich and famous, was an exhibit of still lives and landscapes - a nice change!

Only here would the Galleria d'arte moderne begin with 18th-century art! But as one goes through these galleries, it becomes clear that there are distinct differences from what went before. Portraits become less formal, religion and allegory are less important than scenes of civic and private lives. It's possible to paint ordinary people, so instead of the Virgin giving her breast to the infant Jesus, it's an ordinary woman feeding her child. There's permission, too, to try new techniques of painting, leading to pointilism, impressionism, etc.

Taking a break from art, I went down the street to the Museo di Storia Naturale, part of the Università di Firenze, with its "secular temple", the Tribuna di Galileo, so-called from the statue of him there. There was a knock-out exhibit of crystals - nature is really rather beautiful! Once again, I was sorry that photography was not permitted, but you can see some of the pieces on the museum's website. I particularly liked the crystals that were combinations of minerals. There was spinella su marmo, white stone dotted with crimson, like blood; azurite, looking for all the world like navy blue velvet with sparkles; calcite su ametista, with a group of crystals shaped almost like asparagus growing out like rays. Colors, shapes, angles, all come together to form objects of great beauty. It's easy to see why people collect "rocks"!

Upstairs, we travel from the smallest protozoa, through corals, worms, bugs, to mammals, primates, and humans. (Query: why does every museum and zoo feel the need to put a mirror in the primate room?) There were room after room of anatomical waxes from the late 18th-century. Incredibly life-like and detailed.

Outside, there is a lovely garden, which abuts the Pitti's Boboli Gardens, and which is a hangout for the students:
Garden of the Museo

I went to lunch at the Caffe delle Gallerie Pananti, a little place across from the Pitti that is also an art gallery. I had carpaccio on a bed of arugula, which was served with a bag (literally!) of really good warm bread. Then stopped at Giulio Giannini and succumbed to the lure of printed and marbled paper.

Then back to the Palazzo Pitti for an afternoon in the Boboli Gardens. Not very floral, more formal gardens, multi-level, rambling, with vistas:
Yet another view of Tuscany

and prospects and allées:
Allée

and little (or not so little) houses of repose:
Kaffeehaus

I can't imagine how le belle donne Medici got around it in those skirts! The buildings are now, among other things, a porcelain museum and a costume gallery.

There was a great exhibit at the costume gallery, Fashion: A World of Similarities and Differences, which showed similar styles from different eras. Some stunning garments, including a couple of Fortuny gowns. But there was one Gianfranco Ferré that would have made Tim Gunn cry "edit!" It was beige lace from under the bust to the knee, with a 2-level train, a coral and pink baeded bodice, a big foofy flower at the hip with pleated tulle below it, and a pink and beige striped underskirt! Weird, because there was another gown by Ferré that was a minimalist column of white with just a small sparkly flounce at the back neckline and hem, so simple and elegant.

The Gardens are noted for their cats, but I only saw two - or maybe three - or possibly four - I'm not sure if the black cat was the same cat in different places or several different cats!
Lurking
I was sitting at the bar having a glass of wine and resting when a black cat appeared in the courtyard and just preened under all the attention.

I was then saved from myself. I'd seen a pair of shoes that really tempted me, despite the €98 price, but when I went back later in the afternoon, they were gone. I was tempted by another pair on sale, but they didn't have them in my size. A dress I had been admiring turned out to be nearly €300 - no way!

I had dinner at a neighborhood place, had insalata caprese, ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a walnut/sage sauce, and 1/2 bottle of chianti. I then went back to the hotel, did as much packing as possible, left a wake-up call and set the alarm.

Up early, and decided to take a cab to the bus station, where I caught the 7:30 bus to Amerigo Vespucci airport. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so had tea and pastry in the departure area. I'd seen a very interesting looking building on the way in from the airport on Saturday, and was able to get a couple of photos of it. It turned out to be the Palazzo di Giustizia, designed by architect Leonardo Ricci:
Palazzo di Giustizia

I almost bought Cathy some truffled lard at the airport shops. I was ready to risk getting it through security in Zurich, but then I realized it needed to be refrigerated, and, of course, I wouldn't be able to do that!

My flight to Zurich was uneventful, but while transferring to the Amsterdam flight, I noticed signs that KLM had cancelled flights "due to the volcano", a portent of things to come!
mojosmom: (My House)
Not only in posting about my trip, but about my "regular" life as well.

I've been to a couple concerts (the Chicago Symphony and the Newberry Consort), a couple of operas (Mose in Egitto and Giasone), both at Chicago Opera Theatre, and a play (The Good Negro, at Goodman, which was absolutely awesome and I highly recommend it!).

My friend H. is in town to spend Mother's Day with her mother and daughter, and last night we all had dinner together, along with another friend. That was great fun, as I don't get to see her that often, but we will see each other again when I go to New York.

Today, I have been doing stuff around the house. Enough light bulbs were out to warrant getting out the stepladder and hauling it from room to room, and I did some sweeping and mopping. (Isn't this exciting?) I also went to Office Depot and bought three plastic storage containers. So instead of being in bags and falling all over my junk closet, my packing materials and wrapping paper and stuff are all neatly ensconced in stacked containers. The closet actually looks relatively neat, though it still needs a bit more work.

As I was putting things away, I came across, and scanned, a framed photo which I think is one of the best I've ever taken. I took it nearly thirty years ago, on a trip to Egypt:

At Luxor

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