June 2009


VACATION IN A DAY

It’s amazing how sometimes a one-day jaunt can really make it seem like you had a big vacation.  I highly recommend thinking in these terms.

Some day-trips can be free, and others not.  We chose the “not” this time, and spent one day in Chicago.  It was a very pleasant day indeed.  Chicago is such a congenial city with an atmosphere of friendliness and general well-being!

Visiting my parents allowed us to drive to South Bend, where we caught the old South Shore train for a 2 1/2 hour ride straight into the heart of Chicago.  My Younger Son and I had planned a perfect itinerary which gave us the following:

We rode the elevated train to the Sears Tower area.

We went up into the Sears Tower.

We enjoyed watching the interaction between a large Amish group and the “big city” employees there.  Young employees were taking photos of families for the official Sears Tower photo (which the Tower would try to sell us later); I whispered to the young man that the Amish might not like to have their photos taken.  He was startled, but didn’t really care.  After herding the 15 into a reasonable group, and being ready to take the photo, the Amish patriarch finally realized the intent, and politely put a stop to that;  but I’m not sure he ever did understand WHY they wanted to take a photo in the first place.  It WAS very disconcerting to me too!

I do not have a photograph of that incident.

We ate our packed lunch in a beautified area amongst the skyscrapers.

Then with a self-guided tour in hand, we walked the financial district and the shopping district with architecture in mind.

The Daley Plaza (Picasso)

Tiffany Mosaic Dome–the largest of its kind–on the ceiling of the former Marshall Field’s Department Store

The Great Clock at Marshall Field’s

The Rookery, remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907.

We got on a city bus, went to Navy Pier, and sailed on a tallship.

My two sons helped to hoist the sails.

We ate at a restaurant that served excellent gluten-free food for us, spent a very fast time at the Art Institute, and slept much of the way home on the train.

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KEEPING YOUR HEAD UP

Years ago, my Older Son took swimming lessons at the home of a marvelous teacher.   She was stern, but very encouraging.  The children made huge advances in their swimming and she made them strong in spirit.

It was often a harrowing experience for the mothers on the side.

On the last day, the children had their test.  One of the challenges was to tread water for five minutes, using three different styles when the teacher called them out.

These students were determined to pass on to the next level and they worked so very hard.  While the mothers clenched their teeth, gnawed their fingers, and practically wept, the children paddled and treaded and bobbed and struggled to endure the five minutes.  I will always remember one child in particular, whose little moon of a face was the only thing sticking above water.  The teacher shouted and shouted “You can do it!  Keep going!  Only one more minute!  You’re doing great!” the entire time.  It was very moving.

Sometimes I feel like that child.

That’s why I haven’t written lately, or read your posts, either, friends.  But my list of Things to Get Done Right This Very Minute will be whittled down soon, and I’ll be back!

Meanwhile, I’m so thankful for my flower garden!  This is the first time in years I’ve felt well enough to keep on top of that physical work (yay, celiacs!).

This peony bush was supposed to be dark red instead of the pale pink it is.

Coreopsis lets the weeds crowd it out, but it gives a great spot of color in the garden.

The chives and clematis are done blooming, and the peonies are starting to finish up too.

Very few weeds exist here!