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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

I grew up in northern Indiana and went to college and worked in Chicago for many years.  I have taken buses and trains to get where I was going since 1974.  I remember early South Shore train seats that were woven wicker and the windows opened because there was no air-conditioning.  Yes, grasshopper, I am ancient.

Master’s Daughter and I took the “new” South Shore train from the beginning of the line, in South Bend, to Chicago.  It was either, a two hour, one hour or three hour ride, depending on what time zone you were going to or from.  I believe in actuality, it took two hours.  They have air conditioning and bathrooms now.  And, during the day time, off rush hours, they have children; lots and lots of children.

But, first you had to park your car and put a dollar bill or change in the right slot of the box.  Okay, now we were a wee bit tired.  This is not rocket science and, between us, we have over eleven years of college.  We drove by the pay box, decided to park first (Yes, I know, that should have been obvious.) and then walked up to pay. 

sharon slot

After using another quarter to push the quarters in, Master’s Daughter pushed the last quarter in with a car key.  Then, we read the sign, “Use a key or the pusher attached by a cable to the box.”  OKAY, the rest of the trip should be a breeze, after learning about the pusher.  The result is the above laugh.

We were waiting with a group of people for the train to arrive, when a school bus pulled up.  The energy in that station raised by fourteen knots.  The elderly couple near us began to shake and we all headed for the door.  Frankly, I think the strategy should have been to let the children board the train and then walk to the other end for our seats.  We met someone, coming home that night, who was in the car with the children.  Apparently, it was not a pleasant ride.  Most notably mentioned was children playing in the bathroom.

And this is what we (and a sleeping chick at the Museum) looked like at the end of the day.

chicken sleep jpg

All the other chicks, in the incubator were sleeping laying down but this guy was standing up sound asleep.  My mother has done this a time or two also. 

Even so, Master’s Daughter and I have decided this “June girl’s retreat” really needs to be an annual event.  Last year, I went up for her Master’s Graduation.  This year it was for the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.  We are now looking for something fun to do next year.

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Yes, I am here and alive.  I had a bad week, month, going on six months; still fighting my insurance.  HIP (The Healthy Indiana Plan) tells me I am insured.  Anthem, however, chooses to deny me coverage and has gone so far as to even stop debiting my monthly payment.  SOOOOOO!!!

I left home.  Seriously, I have gone to my “zone of protection bubble.”  Did you know that the zone of protection bubble is in South Bend?  That is why President Busch came here three or four times before his campaign and why President Obama has already been here twice.  They know where the “zone of protection bubble” is.

I do not have to open the mail, and find bad news, in my zone.  I do not have a land line phone in South Bend.  I do not turn on my cell phone in South Bend.  I am in my zone. 

What do you do in South Bend, when you are in your Zone of Protection, you ask?

  1. You take a two hour ride on the South Shore train, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
  2. You walk in Chicago. Choose Chicago – the official visitors site for Chicago | explore now.  I love Chicago.  It was good just to get off the train and smell Chicago.  I could smell Chicago air blindfolded.
  3. You go the the Museum of Science and Industry Welcome to The Museum of Science and Industry and discover that someone has stolen the Museum and left a cheap imitation in its place.
  4. Except for Earth Revealed.  That was great.  Museum of Science and Industry | What’s Here | Exhibits | Earth Revealed
  5. You go to the Harry Potter exhibit, Museum of Science and Industry | What’s Here | Exhibits | Harry Potter: The Exhibitionwhich is only attached to the Museum by a tent and have the most wonderful adventure.  Hehehe, this is a teaser. I am in my zone and so I can tease you and only write the details later!!
  6. You flirt with a totally young, and probably gay man at the Museum and walk away feeling twenty years younger.  He gave us our guided tour speaker thingies.
  7. And all of the above was just one day.
  8. You also go and eat breakfast at Welcome to LePeep.  And, no that is not a chicken restaurant, although I have a great chicken picture from the Museum to share.
  9. Then, you go to http://www.sbchocolate.com/ South Bend Chocolate Company, tell them they should give you free truffles because you send business their way on your blog and they laugh as they hand you your Aztec (Mexican) hot chocolate and 1/2 pound of dark chocolate truffles and your bill.  (worth a try!)
  10. And, then, your zone (a/k/a Master’s Daughter) gives you the most relaxing part of your journey.  You get your first pedicure and ask the Chinese gentleman if he will marry you because no one has ever rubbed your feet like that.
  11. You also get to talk to your Army Grandson, who is in Kuwait.
  12. You get asked to go shopping by your “Hollister” grandson.  They chased him down the hall at the mall one day and asked him to work for them, since they said he had “their look.”
  13. Then, you watch a “girlie” movie, Love Actually.  The first of several for my zone visit
  14. AND, you get to do some of this while viewing things on high speed access that you never get to see at home, on dial-up, with a party line. 

There are no party lines, they have not lost electricity once, and the mail doesn’t come for me here.  Did I mention I do not have to open the mail???

So, while I am at the zone, I may or I may not write on my blog.   Well, I actually have, because I am writing this.   The rental people want their car back Saturday.  I’m not sure what is with that, but they made me tell them exactly what day to have it back.

In my Zone I do not have to make decisions.

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Sheryl here:  jumping up and down, clapping my hands in glee, Master’s Daughter and I have tickets for the Harry Potter show at the Museum of Science and Industry | What’s Here | Exhibits | Harry Potter: The Exhibition | Exhibit Guide | Introduction.

 

I really love Chicago and all of the museums.  I used to spend hours just roaming around with my sketchbook; both in the city and in the museums.  And, now, I get to go and sit in Hagrid’s chair and repot Mandrake’s, Museum of Science and Industry | What’s Here | Exhibits | Harry Potter: The Exhibition | Exhibit Guide | Hands-On  and enter through the “frame of the fat lady’s portrait.”  And, yes, I am sixty-one, but what fun is there in life if you cannot get excited over a bit of magic?

 

And, the really neat part of it is that I get to spend several days with my daughter.  That means South Bend Chocolate cafe for Aztec hot chocolate and a chinese restaurant and a yummy yarn shop and about a gazbillion laughs. 

 

Whoppeeeee!!!

 

It’s a whole month away.  Are we there yet?

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I grew up in the fifties/sixties. You know, the generation that went from Leave it To Beaver and mother’s vacuuming in high heels and pearls to new mommas and poppas singing and getting high and vacuuming well, without high heels. Not in my family, mind you, but it was the era.

 

Other than growing up with a fear of nuclear fallout from the bomb, it was a pretty good time to grow up in. I do remember those “duck and cover” drills and, even at that time wondering how the heck this little two by three foot square of wood, above my head, was going to protect me from radiation poisoning. But, we had hot cars and gym dances and Dr. Ben Casey collar shirts; and we had rules. My home sure did.

 

It was a time when children did not scream in stores. We were rarely spanked, but they did get the point across that manners prevailed. Oh, and no one knew that you should not ride your bicycle in the mist from the mosquito spray truck (and they wonder why there is such a high rate of cancer).

 

Unfortunately, this was also a time when you were not encouraged to think for yourself, at least in my family. We did as we were told (which is not always a bad thing-just when you are not allowed to think for yourself!) and you did not keep secrets from your parents. YEAH, RIGHT!!! They actually believed that one.

 

No, seriously, THEY did believe it. That’s the joke.

 

Anyway, we had rules, in addition to the above, in our own family too.

 

Dad’s ancestors were from Norway, but he thought he was from Holland. He had been a Military Policeman, guarding German prisoners after the war and they told him his name was Dutch. I think his parents had believed their ancestors came from Holland too. They were fairly poor and very frugal. Hence, when paper plates came out, they bought one package and washed them out after each use. Thereby, negating any benefit from buying paper plates. I remember grandma having a clothesline of paper plates in her kitchen. They saved everything and it took four of us, working day and night, to get dad’s basement cleaned out for his retirement move to Arkansas.  Oh, how he fretted about his lost treasures.

 

He was also a worrier. He had, what we liked to call, his “Picnic headache.” Just mention a picnic and dad would get this violent headache, like no one else ever had. He really had a headache, just from the stress of being forced to go on a picnic. Mention a trip to Chicago and his appendix would probably burst, even though we only lived thirty miles away. It also carried over to the news. If someone was robbed by an elephant in a grass skirt, dad just knew he was next on the elephants list. If someone was trampled by a snake, we would be too.  And, everyone was out to get him. Everyone! Politicians and lawyers were all crooks, rich people were all greedy, and college graduates were stupid. Dad was a bit of a bigot, but he was equal opportunity and bigoted against just about everyone.

 

So rules in our house included: lock all doors and if it doesn’t have a lock, put one on (or three was even better), close all blinds because “they” were watching you, do not put your feet on the couch without a newspaper under them (this was socked or not socked). We never went bare foot, as feet were frowned upon. We were also not allowed to pass gas. I was never successful at this as I ran from the room. I did much better at covering up the fact that I was blowing my nose, when I was, in fact, blowing my nose. I did NOT sweat.  Ladies do not sweat.  I was truly pleased as an adult to learn how good exercise felt. And, no, I did not ride a bike following the the mosquito spray truck.

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My grandson

My grandson

I was devestated the year dad told me I was too big to see the Fourth of July fireworks. Fourth of July had always ranked right up there with Christmas and Easter. The awesome show in the sky was like a present to me.  I understand now though. When you get up early and work hard all day, driving to anything is the last thing you want to do.

My favorite fireworks were actually not on the fourth. They were in Chicago, for Venetian Night. I took my daughters and we stood on the bridge and watch the lighted boats pass by. I think it was the first year and they didn’t clear the bridges when the fireworks went off. There were waterfall fireworks on each side of every bridge and it was like being right in the middle of a display. Oh, I guess we were. Probably not the safest thing in the world, but it’s an experience I’m glad I had.

As I got older, from that dreadful year I was too old for the fireworks, my brother first and then I joined the band. Each fourth of July we marched in a parade and that became what the fourth of July was to me. I still tear up at patriotic music (as my readers know, I cry easily anyway) and flags waving. I love taking kids to the parade because I get to be a kid myself and enjoy their excitement.

Our town, Nashville, has Parade day. One day, early in summer, when they hold one parade to cover the year. Last year, when the boys were more active in the Volunteer Fire Department, they joined several adults dressed in turn-out gear and haz-mat gear and did John Travolta moves to disco dance, while standing in the back of a pick up truck. They were a town favorite to be sure and the truck driver said he had to go home and recover from whip lash.

One of my grandsons transferred this week from weekend warrior to full time soldier. My heart hangs a little heavier for him and all mother’s sons.

The fourth of July has taken on a new meaning for me. It is no longer the thrill of a light show of fireworks, nor the sound of a band, drums on the march, excited high school students in a parade with flags waving. The fourth of July to me is a time to stand up and cheer and applaud our soldiers everywhere.

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Once, through a totally insane decision, I was involved in rehabbing a house. The only good part of rehabbing a house, is burning the scrap wood when you are done. The worse part of rehabbing is when you are stupid enough, or desperate enough, to live in a house while you are rehabbing it. There is absolutely nothing exactly like listening to a table saw eighteen hours a day. Thank God!

 

The tenants had moved out of my house; taking the interior doors, cabinets and water softener with them. I don’t even want to know what they were doing with them. When I called her to inquire into her health and what I thought she could do with it, her response was, “Just try and find me.” 

 

The insurance company told me that someone had to live in the house to insure it and I didn’t intend on returning to Indiana for six months. A young man needed a place to stay and was (Ha! Insert me laughing insanely at this point.) going to pursue a life in the building trades, so might prove helpful in exchange for a free place to stay.

 

The problem with this was, well, EVERYTHING! The boy was lazier than mud and he was totally insane. He got up around two in the afternoon, and would walk in the room, would hip chuck me out of the way, and grab whatever I was holding to make it look like he had actually lifted a finger to help. He obviously has a problem with women because I was the only one he physically pushed/shoved, told filthy jokes to and laughed at. I have since started lifting weights and it will never happen again.

 

An hour later, he was off to a class, which he was most likely failing, as it took him six years to complete an associate’s degree. I was going to help him once with a problem he was having in class and asked to see his text book. He told me he didn’t buy them because the teachers all told him that books were optional and you didn’t have to read them. I guess, that is why education is so expensive. The publishers are able to sell books the professors never have you read.

 

When he arrived home from evening classes, he cooked himself a meal which consisted of cooking the vilest smelling wine poured over what must have been rotten hamburger. And, the above, lists the good points of having him live in my home.

 

His stay in my home ended because he had taken to damaging the stuff I worked on. This led me to believe that the kid had some type of mental problem and one of us had to go or the other would end up in jail. 

 

 

His damage consisted of: I finished mudding the bathroom and the next morning someone had taken a flat head screwdriver and dented the ceiling in numerous spots. Since there were only three of us in the house, I was able to isolate the cause. There was no way that was an accident, nor was it an accident several days later after I finished sanding drawer fronts, and stained and applied urethane to them, only to wake up the next morning to find a nickel size, deep gouge out of one drawer. It was right in front, of course. I could never have missed seeing that.

 

By this time, I figured the kid was just plain mean and stupid. Other things were damaged, but the final straw happened as he was moving out. I had sanded a door down to fine grit, stained it and applied urethane to it. It was ready to be hung. Since it was the front door, I had been extra particular with it. We were outside seeing him off. I went inside to crack the champagne I was going to celebrate with when he left, and there, on my beautifully finished door, was a line of black marker from top to bottom.  Luckily he had driven out of the driveway already, thus saving me from a murder rap.  

 

When a rehabbed house you are living in is complete you have the joy of sitting around, in a near empty house, and waiting for your realtor to call. The good part is that it is much easier to keep a nearly empty house spotless. The bad part is that there are a lot of hours after that and only so many relatives you want to visit. I purchased paints and canvas, set up a still life and painted. The odor of solvents is not the odor you want people to associate with your house when they have a decision to make between one house and another. That is when I began to take my writing seriously.

 

I had read every Mystery that the Lake County Public Library stocked during the remodel.  I often found myself saying, as many writing inclined people do, “I could do this.” I did. It needs some major work, but at the time Eleanore Taylor Bland, critiqued it at A Dark and Stormy Night Conference in Chicago and gave me the name of her agent. They were not interested. I did so many things wrong, from plot to final edit to critique letter. I was so excited, I didn’t take it seriously enough. 

 

The house sold. We drove back to Wyoming with money in the bank and began looking for a new house. The first property we viewed was fifty-three miles down the road, twelve miles down gravel and three miles down dirt. I got out of the car, let out a deep breath of air, for the first time in years, and listened to the sound of silence. No table saw in sight. It wasn’t the property we could get but I took out my camera and my soul thanked me.

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I’ve never had a great memory. Whether it was genetic, from being thrown under the dash, in an auto accident, when I was two, or a random neurological problem I have had, I will never know.  I have always worked very hard in school to remember things. I take notes, transcribe notes, transcribe my transcription, make index cards and go over them again and again to set facts in my head. The strange thing is that I will often shock myself by making a statement that I did not know I knew.

Gosh, that sounds strange. I don’t know if anyone else can relate to that. It is how I feel though when I find myself mentioning a name or fact, I had no idea I knew. If you would have asked me outright, “who is x”, I would have probably blanked. If I got into the “cash cab” I would have a brain freeze of unimaginable proportions.

Then there is my “professor” mode. This is the mode I go into when I teach art or talk about art. I have given up trying to figure it out, but all the things I have to look up to be sure I am doing it right or just plain remember how to do it, come pouring out of my mouth when I am teaching an art class or talking to a client.

For my writing, I have notebooks.  Notebooks with research, characters, location, mythology, the whole thing. I have folders for the same stuff in my computer and on a flash drive.  Okay, I’m paranoid. But, I’m not losing it.  I knew of an artist who shipped all of their sketch books to their new home and they never made it there.  That would be like losing part of yourself.  I have years worth of sketch books and guard them closely. I lost a lot of artwork in a move one time.  They are my memory. That and photos.

And, this is why, I treasure some memories, that I don’t need help with, so much. I’m sure everyone has their favorites. A few I left off my last list are here:

We start in the sky where so many of my memories are. I was at a backyard picnic once and someone brought a telescope he had put together with his father. The moon was suddenly closer than I had ever hoped to see it.  I wasn’t just seeing dark shadows, I was seeing valleys and craters and mounds. It was inspiring.

I used to travel from coast to coast twice a year doing art shows and placing work in galleries. I had a large Chevy cargo van, customized with household insulation and tongue and grove paneling. I slept in it at 120 degrees and at 30 below, comfortably, during the weeks I was on the road.  I shampooed in the highway reststops. I found out you can keep squeeky clean with wet wipes. The occasional motel bed and shower were appreciated all the more for it.  I would use the opportunity to take photographs too. I love the darkroom. It is my deviation to being an environmentalist. I love the smell of developer.

I used these trips for resource material and just because I love being outside.  I could live in a tent. I was one of the first cars allowed to enter Yellowstone  Park, I believe it was in 1988, right after their huge fire.  They were still dropping water from the helicopter buckets. I will never forget the smell, nor seeing a perfectly normal forest and then turning a corner to see black, devastation as far as the eye could see.

I worked in Chicago when they started the Music Festival on Navy Pier. One night I sat in near empty bleachers to watch B.B.King sing and play piano. How cool!  I felt like he was playing a concert for me.

Think about your great memories today and share them with someone

 

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