mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Is everyone ready for the holidays?

I had pretty much all my shopping done, other than random, impulsive stocking-stuffer type purchases, or at least I thought I had! I have friends with whom I exchange gifts, and waaaaaay back in November I was at World Market and saw some nice mugs with initials. I decided to buy these but a couple of the initials I needed were on a high shelf, so one of the sales people got them down for me. "Give me two Ds and a C", I said. And I put them in the cart, paid for my purchases, which were nicely wrapped in tissue paper, went home, and shoved the bag in a closet. Fast forward to Thursday, when I decided to wrap presents. And discovered that I had two Cs and a D. I went back to World Market, and, of course, they no longer had anymore Ds. However, they say they'll get more in and will call me, and one of the people who has that initial won't be with us the day we do the exchange, so I have time. But I do wish I'd checked sooner!

Both my sisters arrive tonight, and we are making plans. We'll go to friends on Tuesday for the traditional gourmet mac-and-cheese, vespers at First Unitarian on Christmas Eve followed by our traditional latke dinner, and dinner with other friends on the 26th.

There have been a slew of parties this year - last Saturday I had two in one day, an afternoon open house and an evening dinner.

I've been to a couple of really good music performances lately. I mentioned in my last that I was going to hear Judas Maccabeus, and it was a rousing good performance! I've also been to Bel Canto, the opera commissioned by Lyric Opera based on Ann Patchett's novel. Really excellent, particularly when you consider that neither the composer, Jimmy Lopez, nor the librettist, Pulitzer Prize playwright Nilo Cruz, had ever written an opera before! Thankfully, they eliminated Patchett's ridiculous epilogue, which was a real clunker. The singers were splendid, particularly countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as César and mezzo J'nai Bridges as Carmen. Loved the set and lighting as well.

Then I went to a recital with Patricia Barber and Renée Fleming, Fleming singing mostly Barber's music, arranged as art songs, with sometimes Barber and sometimes Craig Terry and sometimes both accompanying on the piano. Barber's quartet also played, and we did get to hear her sing, though not enough for my taste! They sang together as well, notably a bunch of Christmas songs. The only real failure was Fleming's singing of You Gotta Go Home. But it was a grand and successful experiment in joining jazz music and classical singing.

As part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the S.C. Johnson Company sponsored trips up to Racine for tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Administration Building and the Research Tower (recently opened for tours). They provided buses from the Chicago Cultural Center up to Racine and back. On most weekends, you also get to see Wingspread, designed by Wright for Hibbert Johnson and his family, and now a conference center. It's all free! So I did that last weekend, and it was a great treat. Kudos to the Johnsons for hiring Wright in the first place, and for appreciating what they have and sharing it.
mojosmom: (elections)
I was a good girl and voted today. The judicial ballot was annoyingly long as usual, and I spent inordinate amounts of time on the web reading the various bar association and judicial commission reports trying to figure out who to vote for. The one race I chose not to vote in was for our Congressman. The incumbent is someone whose positions I generally agree with. However, he is suffering from a depressive disorder that has required multiple hospitalizations. While I certainly don't think that illness of any sort should be an automatic reason to vote against someone, in this case it has interfered with his ability to perform his duties, and I was also very unhappy with the way he and his staff handled the disclosure of his situation to his constituents. He had two opponents, one a Republican whose positions - where he actually disclosed them - are the opposite of mine, and the other an independent candidate who can't put together a coherent sentence. (He also has a really annoying website and misuses quotation marks constantly.) So I sat that one out.

I plan to spend election night watching the returns in the hotly-contested race in 14th-century Genoa between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. (I'm seeing Simon Boccanegra at Lyric.) Also keeping an eye on traffic as the Prez is in town, and what I hope will be the celebration is to be at the McCormick Place convention center, right on my way home from the opera.

Has it really been two months since I posted last? Apparently so. I will not even attempt to say what all I've been doing. But a few brief highlights are in order.

Our local branch library, the oldest in the city, participated in the Open House Chicago program, a weekend during which historically and architecturally significant buildings are open to the public free of charge. I organized the volunteers to staff the branch, and had a lot of fun. Then I went and checked out several other places that were open, places that normally aren't.
Welcome to the Blackstone Branch Library

Some friends and I went up to Wisconsin a couple of weekends ago to check out the new Sir Norman Foster-designed building at S.C. Johnson company (famous for their Frank Lloyd Wright administration building). We drove by a couple of other FLW buildings in Racine, went to the Racine Art Museum, and then headed to Kenosha to the Kenosha Public Museum and dinner at a very good, upscale Italian restaurant. We had a great, if tiring, time.

This past Sunday, I went to one of the Chicago Humanities Festival events, "The Making of an American Opera", about the opera Lyric has commissioned based on Ann Patchett's book, Bel Canto. The composer and lyricist were discussing their collaboration, how the commission came about, etc. All quite interesting. Later the same day, I saw Beppe Severgnini's documentary Portland 2 Portland: A Political Train Journey Across America. Afterwards, Severgnini and two of the crew talked about the trip and some of the technical challenges of filming on a train.

I've also been to a couple of plays, some concerts, and some art exhibits.

Non-cultural stuff: a new coffeehouse opened across the street from me. I can recommend their carrot cake.
mojosmom: (Default)
I've just been very remiss about posting.

I dashed down the block to the farmers' market this morning for raspberries, flowers and a muffin, and dashed back home about 10 minutes before the skies opened and it started pouring. It's stopped now, though.

Last week was busy. Teatro Vista, along with another theatre company called Collaboraction, did a series of six solo shows in three programs, all performed by the playwrights, so of course I went to all three. My favorite was KJ Sanchez' Highway 47, about her family's involvement in a land grant dispute in New Mexico.

It should be no surprise to anyone that I am involved in the Friends of Blackstone Library. In a perfect merger of my love of libraries and my love of architecture, I am working on an event in October, when our library, the oldest branch library in Chicago, will be part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago. Should be fun!

Eight years ago, I wrote this review of Regina Taylor's play, Crowns. Saw it again a couple of weeks ago, and, having been to a couple of pre-play events, I knew she'd revised it. It's rather like she read my review, and fixed what I didn't like! She made Yolanda's story much stronger and more integrated into the play (and, along the way, moved Yolanda's home from Brooklyn to Chicago's Englewood neighborhood). Different cast, but all fabulous.

I had my annual fix of Chicken Teriyaki and taiko drummers at the Ginza Holiday Festival Saturday. I also bought a gorgeous, and rather unusual, kimono. It's quite simple, brown and indigo (looks black in the photo but it's not), with figures done by shibori dyeing:
Kimono with shibori figures

And, just because it's adorable, a photo of Lilith wearing one of my flip-flops:
Let's go to the beach, mom!
mojosmom: (photos)

Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion
Originally uploaded by mojosmom.

Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion seen from the Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center (Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge)

mojosmom: (sisters)
My sisters were in town this weekend. I picked Cathy up at Midway after work on Wednesday, and Stacey drove in on Thursday, arriving just about an hour before I got home. She brought scads of vegetables from her garden - zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers - so Cathy made us gazpacho for dinner.

I took a vacation day on Friday, and we went downtown to the Cultural Center and the Art Institute. I'd already seen the Louis Sullivan and Jazz Loft Project exhibits at the Cultural Center, but they were well worth seeing again, and we also saw the exhibit, Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster. We had lunch, and then to the Art Institute for their Sullivan exhibit, and also the Henri-Cartier Bresson show, which was immense. Then home to rest up before going out to dinner with some old family friends.

On Saturday, we headed to my local farmers' market. I needed some garlic, and we also bought a variety of fruit, a lovely bit of lamb, some flowers and Brown Sugar Bakery's awesome bread pudding, fresh from the oven. We stayed for the chef demo, and, as always, sampled the end products, both of which were vegetarian, so Stacey could enjoy them as well.

We had thought about going to Carifete, a festival of Caribbean nations, with food, vendors, a parade, etc., but skipped it in favor of resting up a bit at home. Then I ran some necessary errands while my sisters went over to the Art Center to see a show I'd already seen and didn't need to see again. Late afternoon, we went out to Oak Park to see our friend Jeanette, a founder of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. She took us to a local art fair and dinner, and then we went back to her apartment, chatted and watched the video of her 90th birthday party. She was telling us about what the new owner is doing to her former residence, Frank Lloyd Wright's Davenport House. He's taking it back to the original 1901 configuration (there's apparently a bit of controversy about this), and the work is taking so long that six years after he bought the place, he still isn't living in it!

Sunday, we drove out to the boonies to see Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House:
Farnsworth House

I wouldn't want to live there all the time, but I can sure see why Edith Farnsworth spent every weekend there! And we could also hear why she finally decided to sell it. There was a bridge over the Fox River, right by the house, which, when she bought the land, was just a quiet, farmers' bridge. Then the powers-that-be decided it needed to be a big, modern road. And, boy, is it noisy! Quiet inside the house, but no more serene evenings on that terrace.

When we got back to Hyde Park, we went to the Medici for a late lunch. New t-shirts: "Support Elena Kagan - a judge of good pizza"! (She apparently frequented the Medici when she was at the Law School.)

Yesterday, I had to go to work, but the sisters walked down to the lakefront, through Jackson Park and then hit the bookstores on 57th St. Cathy made penne pasta with mushrooms, zucchini and pine nuts for dinner, along with thick slices of tomato with fresh basil. After dinner, she suggested that we go for a walk around the block, as it was a perfect evening to go walking. I put forth an amendment to the motion, that we walk over to the Istria Café and have a gelato. The motion, as amended, carried unanimously and was put into immediate effect. We came back through Harold Washington Park, where some young men were playing soccer and some older men were playing chess.

I dropped Cathy off at the airport this morning, and Stacey drove herself home later in the day. So now here I am with no one but the cats, which is okay, too! Marissa, who is normally quite shy with other people, took a mild shine to Cathy, briefly snuggling with her when she was trying to print out her boarding pass!
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: (Default)
On Sunday, I went to the memorial service for Leon Despres (I wrote about his passing here. It was held at KAM Isaiah Israel, which I had forgotten was designed by Despres' father-in-law, the well-known Chicago architect, Alfred S. Alschuler. Among the eulogists were Abner Mikva, who represented Hyde Park in the state legislature and Congress, and was later a Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C (and who, but for bad timing and Republican presidents, would likely have been named to the U.S. Supreme Court); Don Rose, political consultant extraordinaire; and Despres' law partner, Tom Geoghegan, a labor lawyer and author. They talked about Despres' work as a labor lawyer, thorn in the side of the establishment, civil libertarian and civil rights activist, a man who made Hyde Park the kind of neighborhood that attracted the likes of Barack Obama. Someone said he made it possible for us to have "the first president of the United States whose home abuts a reform synagogue"! (Slight error - it's actually across the street.)

The most moving eulogy, however, came from a woman who was a close family friend, and who eloquently described the seventy-five year love affair between Leon and his wife, Marian. They met as teen-agers, married in their early '20s, and were together until her death at age 97. It's true that one could hardly think of one without the other.

I'd parked a few blocks away from the synagogue, figuring (rightly) that the place would be crowded, and so stopped on the way back to take a few photographs of another neighborhood architectural gem, Frank Lloyd Wright's Heller House:
Heller House

In the evening, I went to the Checkerboard to hear Dee Alexander, who was having a CD release party. The joint was jumpin'! I couldn't park in the lot, which is unusual. Probably partly due to the crowd at the Checkerboard, but also because Dixie Kitchen is closing so a lot of folks are going for one last johnnycake. I stayed later than I intended, but that was okay, because she was great, so was the band, and I had a lot of fun. They announced the date for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. It will be September 26. I'm looking forward to that, as always.

Last Italian class of the session was yesterday. She's just doing a six-week review over the summer, and I've decided to take a break so that I can enjoy the summer (if we ever get any warm weather!)

Got the results of my medical tests. Mammogram was normal, and while my bad cholesterol is a bit high, the doctor says it's just a matter of watching my diet, and besides, I've got plenty of the good cholesterol. So that's all good.
mojosmom: (photos)
#s 7 & 8 are a pair.

I found this card in a stall in the ladies' room at the Newberry Library. "I wonder what this is doing here?" I said to myself, seeing this:

Brahms & Liszt

Then I turned it over:

Pissed

The next three are all "I noticed this while waiting for a bus" photos:

#9: Even the bays are fake:

Trompe l'oeil

#10: Street banners

Street banners

#11: Tree stump.
Stump
mojosmom: (Turning pages)
I can't believe I never got around to posting about last weekend, and here this weekend is all over but the shouting, as they say.

Hyde Park Jazz Festival )

On Sunday, I went back to the Art Center, as there was an event to kickoff Chicago Artists Month. All of October there will be events going on all over the city (I should say, even more art events than usual, as there are always a lot anyway). There was some rather outré performance art; these kids seem to have mixed reactions, from intrigued to "what the heck?":
Watching and Listening.

Springfield )

Today, I went up north for the annual Lake County Women's Coalition Tea, this year honoring Women in Law Enforcement.

Now I have to do my homework for Italian class, and start getting ready for Charleston. I can't believe I'm leaving in just a couple of days! Looks as though the weather will be generally pleasant, but I'd better pack the umbrella. I'd also better figure out what books to bring to a) read, and b) release. By the way, I've booked a Gullah Tour for Friday at 11:00, if anyone is interested in joining me.
mojosmom: (Default)
In case you've missed me (and even if you didn't), I've been in Milwaukee for a few days, at a conference of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. (I tried to read everyone's posts from while I was gone, but if anything major's happened, let me know! I might have missed stuff. You guys are the writing-est bunch!)

The conference was excellent, despite the fact that, as usual, a couple of the speakers abused and over-used PowerPoint. Although I was familiar with a lot of what was discussed, I got a lot of new ideas and learned some fascinating stuff about sniffer dogs. A former boss of mine was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Friday's luncheon - and well-deserved, too. The meeting was at the historic Pfister Hotel; however, I did not stay there as by the time I called for a reservation (more than two months beforehand!), there were no conference-rate rooms left, and I did not think my office would want to pay $450 a night! So I was at the Hotel Metro just down the street, which was very lovely, with helpful and accommodating staff, and the most delightful roof garden:
Rooftop garden - Hotel Metro

There were, of course, some social events, though I noted on my evaluation that these should be held at conversation-friendly, smoke-free venues. There was a reception at a local trendy bar, and some jerk was smoking a cigar that permeated the entire place. Fortunately, it was a lovely night, and we took our drinks outside. But we shoudn't have to.

The big President's Reception was held at the Milwaukee Art Museum, in the pavilion designed by Santiago Calatrava:
Windhover Hall

Totally fantastic building! And the setting, right on the lakefront, is gorgeous. We were able to go through some of the exhibit space, but I went back the next day to see more. And, specifically, to see the closing and opening of the brise soleil. They open it in the morning, close it in the evening, but at noon they close and open it (weather permitting) to the sound of music. So I took a whole series of images which you can see here, if you like.

There was a lot going on in downtown Milwaukee, including a jazz concert in Cathedral Park, part of their "Jazz in the Park" series. I had figured on going to the concert and then finding a restaurant (a lot of them have outdoor dining areas, which I like), but they were selling food and drink at the event, so I had a bratwurst, which is required food when you are in Milwaukee.

The Historic Third Ward was also having its annual "Summer Sizzle Jazz Festival" on Friday and Saturday, so I went there Friday after the reception, and again on Saturday afternoon, rather than leaving after revisiting the Museum that morning. There's a ten block area which is on the National Register of Historic Places, mostly former warehouses, factories, etc., that have been rehabbed and are now used as offices, retail, and residential property. There's a nice public market, similar to, but smaller than, Cleveland's West Side Market. Lots of street food going; I had seafood gumbo and roasted sweet corn.

I used to spend a lot of time in Milwaukee, because Mark and I had a sailboat that we kept up there. But mostly we were on the boat, and really didn't do much in the city. There seem, nevertheless, to have been a lot of changes since then (sheesh, over ten years ago!), and a lot going on. It's an easy trip from here, so another weekend visit is very likely in the cards for me.

When I got home, my latest impulsive indulgence was waiting for me:
mojosmom: (Default)
Cross-post from [livejournal.com profile] croc_sandwich
This was a tough one - not due to a dearth of material, but due to too much! I went out to take photos last weekend, and when I got home and started adding descriptions, I realized that just about every building I'd photographed was by Holabird & Roche. As a result, this was going to be a Holabird & Roche-fest, but there were a couple of others I couldn't resist posting, so it's not. But it is all Chicago!

Holabird & Roche )

Not Holabird & Roche )

Other things

Friday night, I went to Cineforum, Casa Italiana's movie night. They were showing De Sica's Umberto D, a 1952 neo-realist film, which I had never seen. It was very good, and generated much discussion afterwards. It's the story of a pensioner, who has no family or real friends, other than his dog, and his struggle to make ends meet in post-war Rome.

Yesterday, I was back at the Newberry Library for David Douglass' discussion of the Consort's last concert (which I mentioned in this post). There was much digression into music theory and notation, which, even for a non-musician such as myself, was really quite interesting. David dropped a bit of information about some of their plans for the next couple of seasons. Among other things, they are going to be dedicating concerts to the memory of musicologist Howard Mayer Brown, the first of which will be Venetian music from Carnevale and Ash Wednesday, as HMB died in Venice at Carnevale.

Last night, I went to the Goodman to see Horton Foote's Talking Pictures. What a marvelous play! Set in Texas in 1929, it deals with the changes wrought by technology and how people cope (or don't cope) with them. The main character, Myra, a divorcée, supports herself and her 14-year-old son by playing piano at the picture show. But with the advent of talkies, her job is threatened and she has to figure that out. The two teen-aged sisters of the family she boards with, Vesta and Katie Belle, are a study in contrasts. Vesta prefers the known, she's the sister you know will "tell" if the other does something outside the norm. Katie Belle, on the other hand, is the one who makes friends with the son of Mexican Baptist preacher (her family is Methodist, so whether it's the "Mexican" or the "Baptist" part that shocks Vesta most isn't certain), sneaks off to the picture show and wants a wider world. The acting was so great that, at the end, when Katie Belle says that she wants to go to Mexico someday, you feel certain that she will.

Goodman is doing a whole Horton Foote Festival, in fact. As part of one of the regular subscription series, they are also doing Trip to Bountiful. But off the series, they are doing an evening of two, one-act plays, and they've offered free tickets to subscribers, so I'm going to that, and also to some other "free to subscriber" events, such as "A Conversation with Horton Foote", with cake and champagne to celebrate his 92nd (!) birthday. But the one I am looking forward to most is a program called "Anatomy of a Trial: To Kill a Mockingbird, the Scottsboro Boys and the Jena 6". They haven't said who will be on the "distinguished panel of historians and social activists", but I'm hoping this will be as interesting a program as it ought to be!
mojosmom: (Default)
Christmas is coming!

I took a stroll around the University of Chicago campus to finish off NoNoNoNo. This, of course, meant a stop at Seminary Co-op Books.
A few from a favorite bookstore )

Seminary Co-op is in the basement of the Chicago Theological Seminary: )

Gargoyles )

Last, but not least . . .

June 2017

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