Saturday, January 30, 2010

Simple Pleasure

For some reason, I spent a lot of my free time this January immersed in two Scandinavian books.

One was Swedish author Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I listened to the recorded version during my commute, and Simon Vance's reading made that time pass quickly and enjoyably. (Better than the news!) The book is mostly plot and a little-over-the-top, but much fun.

The other book was Norwegian author Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses. This I read in large chunks, early on two weekend mornings before my family woke up. The beauty of this book, and its ease in transporting me to another time and place, made me remember the way I used to read, in my youth. I spent hours reading long novels in my father's hammock on summer afternoons. I ignored bedtime and stayed up reading long after my brothers and sisters and parents went to bed.

It's been a long, long time since a book had that kind of pull on me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Random Thought

Our daughter's outing to Harold Washington Library to do research for History Fair was uneventful. She came back with some books. Last time around, she came back with this story.

And as things turn out, our little warrior is testing for her black belt in Taekwondo in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And Finally - the Worst Field Trip Ever

Going to Lane Tech to see High School Musical.

I'm sorry, that's not good enough. I can't think of an eighth grader who's interested in High School Musical (and I know a lot of eighth graders).

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for going to see high school theater productions and supporting high school theater programs. But this show seems like something a family can go see on their own time.

If I was a 14-year-old, I would interpret this as punishment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Other Good Teaching

I must say the eighth grade teachers are on the ball this year.

Our daughter said to us last night, "I passed my midterm...and I get to make sushi!" Huh? Apparently, her math teacher promised that interesting prize to anyone scoring 86% or higher.

(I wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall for that one, though.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Best Homework Ever

"Create 10 Shakespearean insults for tomorrow's insult battle."

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. (But I'm sure our daughter will provide us with an unforgettable play-by-play.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blog Time

These days, the only time I can find to blog is while the family is getting ready for school and work, when I'm waiting for my two teenage daughters to get out of the bathroom.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fun Museum Facts

Our daughter came home from the Field Museum today with lovely, weird news:

1. Sue twitters
2. the museum possesses an ancient Egyptian sculpture that looks like Michael Jackson

I don't know about you, but in the past when I walked through the ancient Egypt rooms at the Field, the little mummy twins gave me enough to think about...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coolest Field Trip Ever

Trip Destination: House of Blues

Purpose of Trip: To attend the Blues Schoolhouse Program, which includes a tour of the folk art collection and a blues history performance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chicago Memories

An old, disposable camera turned up in all the holiday cleaning and decorating, so I dropped it off at Walgreens. What could be on this role of film I asked myself, since I can't remember the last time I bought one. The girls think it was maybe for Girl Scout Camp?

Ha, ha! They were wrong (but they got the time period right). The shots were taken at least three years ago - my daughters and their friends smiling out at us minus the metalwork on their teeth. They look so much younger. Half the photos were taken the day Grandma brought all the kids to Noble Horse Theater and the other half were taken while rock climbing at the Winter Wonder Fest at Navy Pier, before that event became a mob scene.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


We headed out to see an Epiphany pageant last night, a play filled with adorable moments, but memorable music as well.

My favorite part was the prelude - a classical guitar solo, played by a young adult, still in high school I believe. The church was dark, he sat in a chair on the altar, under a spotlight, playing Concierto del Sol by the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce.

I'm sure most people in the audience felt as humbled as I.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

If You Can't Sleep In

Woke up at the crack of dawn on this Saturday morning to get our daughters to the high school test by 8am.

Then we drove east toward the lake to run an errand. And then we drove back home.

There's something kind of beautiful and mesmerizing about driving miles through the city when there's no traffic. You notice the architecture and the new businesses and the empty storefronts . . . the way things change.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Low Tech Considered

I was thinking about that NPR show "All Tech Considered". I listen to it now and then, and have picked up some cool techie tips by doing so.

But I cling to my former low tech life, as I suspect others do.

The whole conversion to digital television, for example, was mostly an inconvenience. In our neighborhood, Channel 2 doesn't come in unless you have cable TV, and being forced to buy cable doesn't sit well with me. Six months into the endeavor, my friend's antenna recommendation solved the problem. Phew.

Then I saw how hubby could make certain people very happy by hooking up their old VCRs. At Christmastime, he helped out my father on this front. And before the day was out, Dad was blissfully watching his tape of La Bohème.

And that made my Luddite self smile.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Better than Bally

I have a lovely little yoga group. We meet in the basement of a neighborhood church.

If you can appreciate how cold that basement floor is during a Chicago winter, you will understand how loyal this group is. I tend to drop in and out, but whenever I do make class, there are A and K and C and J and E, and of course our beautiful instructor, who thanks us for practicing with her.

One evening in 2009, after class, we all rolled up our mats and walked over to A's house for strawberries and wine and conversation. Can you imagine?

It's true.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Little Light Reading

The other day I drove a friend to the police station to pick up a police report. While waiting, I grabbed some "Tips for Teens" brochures:

The Truth about Club Drugs
The Truth about Heroin
The Truth about Cocaine
The Truth about Alcohol
The Truth about Tobacco

Tomorrow morning, school starts up again. I guess I can put this reading material out for our 14 year olds to read over breakfast. Hoo hoo! Wake up, vacation is over! Let's have a heart-to-heart!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Much to Ponder at the Vet...

...where I saw a prominently displayed flyer reminding the public that February is National Spay/Neuter Month. Cook County residents can get a $40 rebate on a spay/neuter surgery (cats, dogs, ferrets) during the month. I wonder, how much does it actually cost to neuter a ferret?

Also, the doctor reminded me to drop off a stool sample from the pooch, and handed me a high tech stool-sample-collection gadget. Hilarious!

But I don't know if I'm up for the task.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I'm enjoying my birthday present of Friday through Sunday delivery of The New York Times. On this morning's Chicago page, I see a news item about the Chicago Underground Library and its new permanent home in the lobby of the Red Tape Theater in Lakeview. It opens January 16.

Meanwhile, neighborhood branches of the Chicago Public Library begin reduced hours tomorrow.