Monday, December 31, 2012

31 December 2012, Day 209

On the East Coast it is already 2013, while here in Chicago 2012 seems reluctant to leave. Goodbye, old year, i'm ready for something new!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

29 December 2012, Day 207

Truth be told, it is not a very photogenic day. If it weren't for the beauty of fresh white snow against rough tree bark i would have had a hard time finding something that made me want to take my gloves off long enough to snap a picture. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

28 December 2012, Day 206

Just before the Septa train reaches Philadelphia International Airport it passes the John W. Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, a peaceful oasis amid the refineries, oil tankers, and post-industrial wastelands on the outskirts of the city. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

27 December 2012, Day 205

Details from the north portal of Philadelphia's City Hall, a building so rich in details and surprises at the turn of every corner that i never tire of visiting it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

26 December 2012, Day 204

Here is a bit of classic Philadelphiana and the reason i was not terribly upset at the demise of the Twinkie. TastyKakes were a staple element in the lunchtime menu of generations of Philly kids and they are still going strong. Chocolate KandyKakes (which used to be called TandyTakes) were always my favorites, followed closely by Chocolate Juniors and Butterscotch Krimpets. I may need to get a couple of boxes to take back to Chicago with me. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

24 December 2012, Day 202

I intended this to be a warm and sentimental picture of the start of a white Christmas, but it ended up looking more like the attack of the laser demons from outer space. 
Oh well, Merry Christmas anyway!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

23 December 2012, Day 201

Is your dog overweight? Would he rather curl up on the couch watching "Animal Planet" and munching on Milkbones than go for a brisk, healthy run in the park? Maybe it's time for you to consider sending him for a stay at the Glenside Spa and Fat Farm for Dogs. Our results speak for themselves: just look at the remarkable change in Rover (pictured below), after just a few short weeks of diet, exercise, and counseling at our spa. Hard to believe it's the same dog, isn't it?


Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

20 December 2012, Day 198

I'm not usually a big fan of Christmas shopping in general and malls in particular, but i do look forward to visiting Willow Grove Park Mall when i get the chance. For one thing, it has a reputation for having an excellent Santa, and this year is no exception. I'm not sure how long Mrs. Claus has been helping out, but it's a great idea. The toddlers seemed far less likely to burst into terrified screams at the sight of a little old lady in a red dress and white cap than at being plopped on the lap of an old man with an excessive amount of facial hair. They're a cute couple, Mr. and Mrs. Claus of Willow Grove, PA!

The other thing that i like about Willow Grove is that the location seems haunted in a good way by the lingering laughter and delighted squeals of generations of children (myself included) who used to go to the wonderful amusement park that once was there. I was stung by a bee there during the annual family day for postal employees, and i didn't even care because i was at Willow Grove and all the rides were free that day (or at least that's how i remember it). So even now, lo these many decades later, while i'm browsing in the shops i have a smile on my face, remembering the roller coaster, the bee, the merry-go-round. There's still a carousel in the corner of the mall, and even though it's not nearly as large as the original one, and the animals are made of fiberglass rather than hand-carved wood, children still tug on their parents' arms begging to be allowed to take a ride on it.

It's been a hard week, and even the simple word "children" still makes my eyes fill with tears. But it was comforting to watch all those happy and innocent little people today, sitting trustingly on Santa's or Mrs. Claus's lap or waving to their parents as they rode the carousel, going round and round on the back of a rearing horse, an elephant, a tiger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

19 December 2012, Day 197

 This remarkable artwork by Kay Healy greeted me when i arrived at Philadelphia International Airport, Terminal E this evening. I wasn't able to get the full work in the picture since it's 40 feet long, but it is really lovely. How appropriate that the title is "Coming Home"! It's so good to be back home in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

17 December 2012, Day 195

During my few brief forays into the outside world today, i was too distracted to accomplish anything more than making sure that the doggie took a proper poop. By the time i remembered that i hadn't taken any pictures i was already swathed in my pajamas with no intention of getting dressed and going out again. So thanks to Isabelle la Curiosa for posing so charmingly for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

16 December 2012, Day 194

This memorial to the 500 Chicagoans who have died by violent means so far this year stands at the lake end of Lunt St. Each star bears the name of one person who did not survive the year; the six-pointed stars are designed to look like the stars on the city flag of Chicago. Occupy Rogers Park and the Overpass Light Brigade put together a memorial service last evening to remind us of how pervasive--how epidemic--violence is in our city and our nation. I wasn't able to attend last evening but was glad that i could at least get a look at this beautiful and sad reminder today.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

15 December 2012, Day 193

"He'd lived on Farwell, a street whose name sounded almost like saying goodbye." - Stuart Dybek

Friday, December 14, 2012

14 December 2012, Day 192

There is a poem by Pablo Neruda that I count among my favorites. The title is “Explico algunas cosas”/ “I Explain a Few Things.” It is a poem about war, an elegy for the beautiful everyday world of tree-lined streets and houses with boxes of geraniums in the windows: the beautiful, the everyday, that burned to ashes in a brutal war. The passage from the poem that has always haunted me is this:

y por las calles la sangre de los niños
corría simplemente, como sangre de niños.

and through the streets the blood of the children
ran simply, like children’s blood.

It’s a gut-wrenching image, one that defies the possibility of metaphor, an idea so terrible that it can only be compared to itself.

The blood of the children ran in America today. Again. But we have no civil war, no brutal dictator to blame for it. We have only ourselves. Each time a horror like this happens we are stunned in disbelief. Each time. And then we are told not to “politicize” it by bringing up the elephant in the room: America’s addiction to guns. I know a few things about addiction, and one of them is that an addict is capable of phenomenal acts of denial in order to avoid facing a truth that would necessitate a change of behavior. And so America joneses at the very thought of the government “taking away our guns.” After all, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” And on and on.

What happened today was inconceivable, but it isn’t even rare anymore. How many children have been shot and killed on the streets of Chicago this year? How many have died in your city? And on and on. All day today I could not even grieve; all I could feel was anger and frustration that we keep letting the same thing happen again and again and, like all good addicts, find twisted ways to explain it. God let it happen, claim Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee, because He’s pissed that the children aren’t allowed to pray in school. So he killed them. Way to go, God! If the teachers had guns, claim others, they could have stopped it.  Yes, because what could possibly go wrong with routinely having a loaded gun in a classroom? But if you even try to respond to this lunacy, you're accused of politicizing a tragedy.

Yesterday, i had decided that i would go to Millennium Park this evening for the caroling. My heart wasn’t in it today, but I knew I wouldn’t get another chance this holiday season, so I did. I was startled to see life going on as usual: happy crowds skating at the ice rink, others gathered around the Bean for the singing. A gospel choir from the Acme Baptist Church was there to lead the carolers. But before they began the usual Christmas tunes, they paused for a moment of silence, then sang “I Got an Angel Watching over Me,” a beautiful spiritual that I believe was written by the leader of the group, Arthur Sutton. It was so moving and comforting that it soothed my soul. I didn’t stay for the rest of the caroling; this was enough.

I leave you tonight with a few images of the pleasures of a winter evening in the Christmas season, images of life going on. I offer you these images, not to assure you that everything is all right, that we can say our prayers for the dead and then get back to business as usual. Instead I offer them to remind you and me and all of us of how precious life is in its simple pleasures and joys, of how we should treasure it, and nurture it through a return to sanity and civility.   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

13 December 2012, Day 191

After last evening's disappointment, I finally and unexpectedly encountered the CTA Holiday Train this evening at the Belmont Station. I didn't get on the train, but i got these great shots from the platform. I always wonder what it must be like for Santa and his elves to ride outside like this on a cold winter evening or to have to ride for miles through the dark, dank subway tunnels. I don't know any other city that does this; it's kind of crazy to suddenly have Santa show up at the peak of rush hour, but it's one of my favorite things!

Santa and his reindeer

The "elves" 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 December 2012, Day 190, Pt. 2

I feel that i've failed you, dear reader. I planned to ride the CTA Holiday Train home today and take lots of pictures. But after waiting for three trains in a row, i decided that maybe i'd missed it and should pack it in and just go home. So instead of riding with Santa and the elves, i found myself corralled into a corner seat by a very good-natured man who nevertheless made me feel grateful that i am no longer young and attractive enough to get hit on routinely. Needless to say, Santa was on the train behind mine. These pictures are not as good as what i was hoping to have for you, but at least you get the general idea ... and if you squint just so, i think you can make out Santa sitting in his sleigh waving in the last picture. The Holiday Train should be coming this way again on the weekend, so i'll give it another try then. In the meantime, "Ho, ho, ho!"

12 December 2012, Day 190, Pt. 1

Oh! No! No! Le "Oui! Oui!" est tombé! Quelle tragédie!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

11 December 2012, Day 189

The view from the L late this afternoon. The renaissance-style bell tower of St. Mary of the Lake in Buena Park is modeled after the campanile of St. Prudentia in Rome according to the parish website. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

10 December 2012, Day 188, Pt. 2

A remarkable evening at Senn High School, listening to an open rehearsal of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma. They played Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor, then practiced the first movement of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with Yo-Yo Ma providing guidance and instruction. Music is an exotic foreign land to me: I love it and am fascinated by it, but i do not speak the language. Tonight felt like getting a passport to that land and being invited into the natives' homes. It was wonderful!
Yo-Yo Ma in the pale blue shirt talking to the musicians at the end of rehearsal.

This was a community event and it was great to see lots of children there. 
This young boy of about 12 had the most wonderful hair. 

Senn High School's magnificent auditorium.

10 December 2012, Day 188, Pt. 1

Front seat in the L this morning. Woo hoo!

Southbound from Uptown towards Lakeview

Wrigley Field

Saturday, December 8, 2012

8 December 2012, Day 186

I don't know how i've managed not to take a picture of the vertical blade sign outside the Lifeline Theatre until now. I like both the sign and the theatre, which specializes in adaptations of literary works and also runs a series of plays for children.  

By the way, i'm feeling very pleased with myself for knowing that this type of sign is called a vertical blade sign. I just learned the term a few days ago when reading about the restoration of the Harper Theatre in Hyde Park and feel compelled to flaunt my new vocabulary. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 December 2012, Day 185

The gray skies and weathered concrete looked beautiful to me today. Maybe it was because i was sleep-deprived to the point of delirium, or maybe because i was waving goodbye to it for a few glorious weeks. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

6 December 2012, Day 184

I took a little trip down to Union Station today to meet an old friend who was passing through Chicago on his way west. Along the way, i got this lovely shot of the Tug Ellie. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

5 December 2012, Day 183

In honor of this blog's 6-month birthday, here is a classic Chicago shot of the Sears ("Don't call me Willis") Tower. Not being especially known for my sense of self-discipline, i'm kind of amazed that i've managed to take and post at least one picture every day for 183 days. There have been days when i just didn't feel motivated to go out and look for something to photograph, and others when nothing looked all that interesting or photogenic. Yet somehow, at the end of each day, there's been a picture. So, at least for now, i'm going to try to keep this thing going. Here's to the next 6 months!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012