Tuesday, December 31, 2013

31 December 2013: Happy New Year!

We end each year on an implicit note of dissatisfaction, resolving to do things differently, to do better in the coming year. Yet that very dissatisfaction is, as well, an expression of hope and confidence, a testament to our belief in our ability to find our better selves.

    "Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow" 
- T.S. Eliot

31 December 2013: One More Holiday Picture

I spent the holidays in Philadelphia and went to see the holiday light displays in South Philly, where they take Christmas very seriously -- and very electrically! This small row house had so many lights that it could probably be seen from space! It isn't clear from this picture, but the display at the second-floor level includes an inflatable carousel that actually rotates. The man walking up the steps walked in the front door and called out, "Yo, ma, two ladies are out front taking pictures of the house!" 

I've revitalized a travel blog that i started a couple of years ago and quickly forgot about. There are many more pictures of my expedition to South Philly there. Click here to see them.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

27 December 2013: Dining on the White Horse Pike

The original Gilchrist Restaurant is in Atlantic City; this second location
is in a converted gas station in Galloway, NJ. It's a cute, inexpensive place,
and the daily special was cream chipped beef. In other words:
it's as close to heaven as New Jersey gets.

26 December 2013: Reading Terminal

Model train set-up at Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

Monday, December 23, 2013

23 December 2013: Creche on Morse/Tannenbaum in the Laundry Room

A few more images from the holiday archives:
Traditional manger display outside St. Jerome's.

Somebody must not have been very good this year:
all Santa left was a (possibly damaged) inner tube for a bicycle tire.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

20 December 2013: Continuing in the Holiday Spirit

I confess that i don't much like the sound of the Erhu (Chinese violin),
but there's something so moving about this elderly couple sitting side by side,
solemnly accompanying a recording of "Jingle Bells."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

19 December 2013: Here Comes Santa! **UPDATED**

After yesterday's frustration, today i struck gold: i timed the dog's afternoon walk to coincide with the arrival of the CTA Holiday Train at Morse station.  Santa was waving and calling to all the children on the platform and walking on Morse Avenue, and honestly, i felt like i was five years old again just seeing him. I don't know if other cities have a similar holiday custom, but they should (although i always feel a little sorry for Santa and his "elves" having to ride through miles of subway tunnels in an open car).  There were rumblings that the CTA would discontinue the Holiday Train because of budgetary concerns, and it is making fewer runs than in past years, but i hope the CTA will realize what an absolute treasure this is and keep Santa riding the rails for many years to come.

**UPDATE**: I've been assured by Kevin O'Neil of the CTA Tattler that the service on the Holiday Train has not been cut back, and I'll defer to him here since he has more knowledge of the workings of the CTA than I. Saturday looks like it will be a busy day for Santa on the Red and Purple lines; read more about it on the CTA Tattler.

Here are a few bonus shots because you've all been such good girls and boys.

And, in case you missed it yesterday, here is the schedule for the CTA Holiday Train. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

18 December 2013: Ceci n'est pas un Metro de Nöel

It's an annual tradition with me, standing on the porch freezing my butt off
waiting to get a picture of the Holiday L as it goes roaring past in all it's glory.
I checked the CTA schedule to get a good idea what time it was scheduled
to go past, then waited … and waited. I took a few practice shots
(including this one) and waited a little longer.
As usual, i hadn't bothered to put on a coat, or socks, and the battery
on my phone was dying, so i gave up. It did eventually go by, but
unfortunately by then i was sitting cozily indoors and didn't get a picture.
Maybe i'll try again tomorrow.
Here is the schedule in case you'd like to take a ride on the Holiday Train.

Monday, December 16, 2013

16 December 2013: "Building a New Chicago"

After days of posting pretty pictures of fluffy snow, it's time for a view of the less scenic aspects of a snowy December day in Chicago. As if one major construction project wasn't enough, a second job is also underway on Farwell, replacing the old gaslines. The machine in the midsection of the picture is scoring the pavement in preparation for digging a trench for the pipeline. 

A simple walk to the dumpster this morning made me feel like a character in a video game: trying to maintain my balance on an icy sidewalk, dodging a forklift carrying a heavy steel plate, avoiding the river of mud created by the machine in the picture (without taking a dive on the aforementioned ice), and hauling a bag of garbage in one hand while the other hand was clutching the leash of a frisky little dog who is not overly fond of loud machinery. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

15 December 2013: Stuff Covered with Snow

Every planter looks like it is wearing an ushanka (one of those big Russian fur hats that i wish i owned).  The familiar is made unfamiliar, a good thing since i have no intention of remaining outdoors long enough to find something new to photograph. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

13 December 2013, Pt. 2: Coming Soon to a Corner Near You

Sign in the Window of the former Morse-L
at the corner of Morse and Glenwood

Why doesn't somebody listen to me and turn this storefront into a place that makes the kind of breakfasts that i'm too lazy to make for myself? What i wouldn't give to be able to wander up to Morse in the morning for some waffles … or French toast … or a nice Nutella crêpe! Oh well, bon appétit, all you whiskey-and-taco aficionados! 

13 December 2013: Green Terra Cotta

Another favorite building: the Belle Shore on Bryn Mawr Ave. The green glaze on the terra cotta is a little mismatched at this point, but still quite beautiful, and oh that neon sign!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 December 2013: Superhero Sighting at the Christkindlmarket

Despite the frigid weather, I made a quick visit to the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza this afternoon, browsing through the traditional German food and gift items.

Somewhat less traditional was an appearance by the Batman (or, since this is a German holiday market, perhaps i should say der Fledermausmann), who was there with members of the Chicago Fire Department  raising money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

8 December 2013: 9AM Sunday at the Glenwood Bar

Today is the last Glenwood Sunday Market of 2013, so head on over to the Glenwood Bar, where the market has moved for the winter months. Although the abundance of summer is behind us, there are still lots of good things to be had at the market and the farmers still need our support. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

6 December 2013: Feliz Navidad

He was playing "Feliz Navidad." The children heard him,
and ran to him as though he were the Pied Piper.
They stood in front of him, dancing and singing along,
filling the cold, stark subway station with warmth and joy. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

4 December 2013: Tortillas for Breakfast

The squirrel seemed to think that i wanted her tortilla
rather than her picture and kept trying to hide from me.
Or maybe she's just tired of all the paparazzi.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1 December 2013: The Bunker

This doorway on the upper level of the substation
under construction at Farwell and Glenwood
would make a good setting for a scene in a suspense
or horror film. I keep waiting for someone or
something scary to emerge from inside this
stark concrete structure.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 November 2013: Beach Weather

After a week of brutal cold, today felt absolutely balmy, a perfect day for a walk on the beach.

But be careful: i've heard their are zombies on the loose.

Friday, November 29, 2013

29 November 2013: Window Kvetching

The exterior of the house at the corner of Sheridan and Farwell is nearly completed. Probably because i fantasized so much about how i would restore this building if i won the lottery, i'm a little underwhelmed by the reality of its restoration. Admittedly, it looks a lot better than it did a year ago, and as i've noted before, the brickwork looks gorgeous. But i just can't understand the decision to install such characterless windows. Since i'm a big fan of fresh air, i also wonder if and how these windows even open. They look like the kind of windows that make sense in a high-rise, opening only a few inches at the bottom so the residents can't plunge to their deaths, crushing innocent passersby in the process; but that hardly seems like a legitimate concern here. Were one to take a dive from one of these windows the worst that could happen in the way of collateral damage would be a squashed shrub and a little scattered mulch. Have i mentioned that i find the landscaping a little uninspired?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

26 November 2013: Bathroom Humor

This picture breaks at least two of my own rules: 
First of all, i never ever take pictures in a bathroom. Heck, i don't even understand how people can talk on their cell phones when they're in the bathroom.
Secondly, I took this yesterday, thereby breaking the "same-day" rule that has always held with this blog until now.
But every time i see this example of "Canadian graffiti" i laugh, and i thought we could all use a chuckle in this gray November weather. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

25 November 2013: Blah!

If you follow this blog regularly, you have probably noticed that i've been a little remiss in posting lately. The fact is that this time of year really kills me: it's cold, it's gray, and it seems to get dark out before the day has barely gotten underway. Standing on the L platform at Morse this morning, i was struck by how completely lifeless and colorless this usually vibrant street looked. Then, by the time i got back this evening, all of this was wearing a treacherous coating of black ice, which made it even worse. 

Sorry, dear reader, i'd love to offer you something more upbeat, but for now the best i can do is wrap myself in a cocoon of grumpiness and prepare for the long wait for spring.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

21 November 2013: Survivor, Rogers Park Edition

East Rogers Park continues to be an obstacle course with many of the streets torn up and sidewalks closed because of all the construction work that is going on. Today's adventure took me to the bucolically named Greenview Ave., which at this point might more appropriately be named Trench Warfare Blvd. Between Morse and Jarvis, i had to:
  • cross the street twice because of closed sidewalks, 
  • avoid paving equipment and step in fresh macadam in order to cross Sherwin, 
  • dodge a few Bobcats of the mechanical rather than wildlife variety. 

I'm a big fan of progress and infrastructure improvement, but at this point i just wish they would finish so the neighborhood could go back to being as walkable as it used to be.

Meanwhile, around the corner on Greenleaf Ave., workers laying the new gas lines blew dirt out of a hole and apparently discovered the underground spring that is the source of the world's pea soup.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

20 November 2013: 'Tis the Season

The decorations are up at Block 37,
but at least they haven't started playing Christmas carols yet.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

17 November 2013: Rebirth

The house at 1444 W. Farwell, destroyed by fire last January, was damaged beyond repair and had to be demolished. Fortunately, it is now being rebuilt to look as it did before. This is good news for the neighborhood, restoring the property to its former beauty. The house next door to it, which shared a common wall and a unified design, looked sadly incomplete without it. 
Unfortunately, it is rare to see a rehab project of this scope give this much attention to a residence's history unless it has landmark status, and i applaud the effort. During the last real estate boom, we saw many of our beautiful old single-family homes torn down and replaced with bland six-unit buildings, identifiable by their cheap, orangey-brick facades that are somehow supposed to look "authentic;" many of our larger apartment buildings suffered get-rich-quick, slap-dash rehabs that turned those elegant old Rogers Park apartments into bland, characterless condos. Then there's the soon-to-be parking palace on the site of the former Shambala Meditation Center on Sheridan Road and the Loyola Juggernaut. With so much "progress" in the neighborhood, it's refreshing to see that this one corner of Rogers Park will maintain the look that has made this such a beautiful and interesting place to live.
Check out Curbed Chicago for  more stories and pictures of Rogers Park architecture.

And here are links to my earlier posts on this property: