Tag Archives: Bride

Million Word Party — Recap

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I wish I had pictures of the singing and ice cream, but I was too busy singing, eating, drinking, mingling, and accepting congratulations to snap pictures.  A couple of days later, I was able to take pictures of the gifts and cards I received, so I’m sharing those.* These mementos were an unexpected perk of giving the party. Featured below are a few closeups of the handmade items.

Tim, knowing of my recent fondness for gnomes (I blame the Writing the Other workshop), made me a congratulatory sculpture, which now lives in my writing area.

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Isn’t it fantastic?

In addition to sharing much-needed freezer space, Beth put Al to work. Using his arcane computer knowledge, he was able to offer advice on how to generate the next million words.

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I knew the responsible party immediately

Whitey used leather working skills I didn’t even know he had to create this gorgeous journal cover, which he filled with Moleskine soft cover note books. I carry a notebook with me most of the time to note observations and ideas; this will replace what I’ve been using. For all you Doctor Who fans, the cover symbol is in Gallifreyan, the script of the Time Lords. It means create.

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Learn to write Gallifreyan here!

I got other lovely gifts and cards as well. There’s Bird by Bird (by Anne Lamott) and a fabulous multicolored set of disposable fountain pens from Jack and Carol. There’s the wall hanging from Dick and Jill that proclaims “The Book was so much Better”.  There were thoughtful congratulatory cards from Sue and Ed and Kim, too.

Sis gave the gift of a venue. With all the traveling this summer, my house was in no shape to receive guests, so she generously offered hers and it was swell, from the living room that was transformed into singalong space through the kitchen which became the ice cream bar to the backyard patio with fire pit.

Cookie and Cookie Junior brought brownies and beverages and gave me the gift of time to actually attend the party by taking over serving and cleanup work in the kitchen. Joanne brought yummy homemade peanut butter cookies.

We all loved the comic Hindi song Kishin and Rita performed for us and the song-leading and instrumental gifts that Jack, Bill, Al and BK provided.

I haven’t yet mentioned several people who gifted me with their presence and good spirits: Camille, Cheryl, Katherine, Barry, Sabrina, Len, Carole, Pam, Cathy, and Kim. I have to admit, though that the attendees who astonished me the most were Bro and his lovely Bride, who came all the way from Houston without letting their intentions slip in any way.

If I forgot to mention anyone or to connect the right person with the right card/gift, I’m sorry. Please blame it on the overwhelm factor.

For those interested in the ice cream, here are the flavors we made for the party: caramel pecan, chocolate, coconut, lemon-orange gelato, peppermint, pineapple sorbet, strawberry yogurt, triple chocolate, vanilla, and vanilla yogurt.

We also created frozen (and other) drinks that required plenty of ice cream, including root beer floats, coffee or chocolate stout floats, piña coladas and grasshoppers.

A lovely time was had by all, or at least by me! Thanks again to all involved.

*Disclaimer: In no way did we expect the party to be a gift-giving occasion. BK and I were just delighted that people were willing to show up and celebrate.

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Million Dollar Quartet

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Apollo Theater in Chicago

This is my last Bro-related post for a while. Bro and Bride went back to Houston a few weeks ago, but we did take one more fun excursion—not previously shared in this space—while they were in town.

Bride said that at some point during their visit, she’d love to see some theatre. A lot of times when people say that, they mean they want to see one of the big touring shows. This can be an occasion for eye-rolling from a host who lives in the area and knows that Chicago’s local theatre is awesome. However, Bride knows there are plenty of worthy shows all over Chicago, and she was happy to see something homegrown.

Left to my own devices, I might opt for an original play, something on the experimental side, like In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story at Lookingglass Theatre, but we needed to pick something everyone would like. We hoped to get into the Second City revue, but you can’t exactly do that at the last minute.

Luckily, we ended up finding tickets to Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theatre. The Apollo is a fun little theatre. They’ve previously produced other shows along the same lines as Million Dollar Quartet, by which I mean musicals based on actual performers/events, which feature their big hits as kind of a backbone to the proceedings. Sis and I saw Always Patsy Cline there some years back. On that occasion, and before we even got into the performance space, we discovered that they served Schlitz beer, a brand we hadn’t seen in years. The reason they were serving it became clear very shortly into the performance, when we saw the actress playing Patsy knocking them back.

Yep. At the Apollo, they encourage you to bring your drinks into the theatre. Once Bro discovered this, he was totally on board with the entire concept. Other than a pretty relaxed theatrical experience, though, we weren’t sure exactly what we were letting ourselves in for. The good news is, it was a lot of fun: a tight show that clocked in around 90 minutes, with no intermission. So you’d be all right attending in the middle of the week, even if you live in the suburbs, because you still won’t be up too late.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the show, Million Dollar Quartet is based on an actual event—the night of December 4, 1956. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley were all at Sun Records together, and magic happened. It’s a great excuse to hear some fun music, like Who Do You Love, Sixteen Tons, Hound Dog, Whole Lotta Shaking…I could go on and on. The actor/musicians blew me away, especially Lance Lipinsky as Jerry Lee Lewis and Shaun Whitley as Carl Perkins. But really, the show was about a pivotal night in the life of Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records. He was an artist in his own right, or at least a muse, and people just don’t remember him in the same way that they remember the names of the guys in the quartet. Anyone who’s ever tried to express something new artistically could relate to Sam Phillips’ struggles. That’s what spoke to me most about Million Dollar Quartet. It had something for everyone, or at least something for everyone in our group: fun, drinks, music and a thought-provoking, character-driven story line.

 

Chicago History Museum – Even Better Than You Think

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Robert Chevalier de La Salle

Bro and I had such a swell time being tourists last November that he dragged Bride to town for a similar excursion this spring. The idea was that the weather shouldn’t be too bad, and in fact might be glorious. Bro and Bride have lived in Houston for over twenty years, and have forgotten their Midwestern roots. Or maybe whatever regulates their body temperatures has forgotten how to deal with the cold. It doesn’t help that all their clothing consists of golf shorts, tropical shirts, and bikinis. My theory is that everyone in Houston dresses that way all the time, because the temperature in Houston never drops much below 80º.

Be that as it may, Bro and Bride got into the area Sunday night. The weather was not glorious. They drove through freezing torrential rains to get to us. The forecast continued cold, with a chance of rain all week. We hadn’t planned anything ahead of time, and it turned out that on Monday, both Bride and Sis had to work. It fell to me to suggest fun indoor activities to occupy Bro on Monday. We both wanted to go see Edward Gorey at the Loyola University Museum of Art, which I thoroughly enjoyed with Cookie about a month ago, but which Bro hadn’t seen. That would have been an excellent plan for a chilly, rainy day, except for one thing. LUMA isn’t open on Mondays. Auggh! Wailing and gnashing of teeth commenced. On to plan B.  I offered Bro a list to peruse, which contained such items as:

  • Target shooting at Glisson Archery
  • The Art Institute
  • The Museum of Science and Industry
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Seeing a movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Grand Budapest Hotel

That last option was so attractive—or at least the Captain America part of it was—that Bride was willing to knock off work early to accompany us, so that’s what we did. It was a fun movie. I have to take BK to see it.

Why did I share this long, boring list?

Here’s why. On Tuesday, when we hoped to take an architectural tour on the Chicago River, the day started with fog, segued into more damned rain, and then subsided back into fog. Not ideal, especially if you’d like to see the tops of the buildings you’re looking at. We needed a substitute activity, so Bro pulled out my list from Monday.

Cookie and I were planning to meet the others where the tour boat launches,  but when it became clear that it was another day for indoor activities, I called Bro on my trusty smart phone and and said, “So maybe today’s the day to do LUMA.”

It turned out Bride and Sis still weren’t interested.

“How about the Art Institute?” I asked. Cookie is a fellow there and could have gotten us all in. I could almost hear the yawns on the other end. Seriously? I love the Art Institute. Tough crowd. In their defense, they’ve all been to the Art Institute multiple times. Anyway, what Bro, Bride and Sis chose really surprised me. They said they wanted to go to the Chicago History Museum.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. I wanted to go, after all. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be on the list. But I figured I was the only one. When I mentioned it to Cookie, she was all, “Sure, sounds interesting.”

One reason I wasn’t sure people would want to go is that I remember going to that museum a long time ago. It wasn’t called the Chicago History Museum then; it was the Chicago Historical Society. I remember it being squashed-together and poorly lit. There were dioramas. I have a fair tolerance for that kind of thing if I’m interested in the content of a museum, which is why I wanted to go. I’d read about some cool exhibits there—the Jack Delano Railroaders and the Ebony Fashion Fair exhibits, to name only two.

Anyway, that’s where Cookie and I met up with Sis, Bro and Bride. It is no longer squashed together and poorly lit. Once inside the now-spacious interior, we opted for the free tour of one of their main exhibits, Chicago: Crossroads of America. It was quite cool. I wish I could tell you the name of our guide, but I’m hopeless at remembering that kind of detail, especially when I’m not taking notes.

What I do remember is learning that during the 19th century, Chicago was the fastest-growing city in the world. (The town was incorporated in 1833, when the population was about 350. By the time of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, there were 299,000 inhabitants. After the fire, the city’s reconstruction and growth were incredibly rapid, and the population reached 1.7 million in 1900.)

Another great takeaway was  that Chicago owed its phenomenal growth to the railroads. Chicago was on America’s frontier when it started; by the 1850s, it became the nation’s transportation hub, because of its water connections to the eastern waterways and the Mississippi River, and the 30 rail lines that entered the city.

My new appreciation for the railroads made Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography even more interesting. To quote from the museum’s web site:

In 1942, the Office of War Information issued photographer Jack Delano a new assignment: document “railroads and their place in American life.” During the next several months, Delano captured three thousand images, two-thirds of them in the nation’s rail hub—Chicago.

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Another excellent part of our visit was the Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit. Here’s another quote:

The Ebony Fashion Fair began in 1958, and over the next 50 years the traveling fashion show blossomed into an American institution that raised millions for charity and helped Johnson Publishing Company reach audiences.

Show organizers overcame racial prejudice to bring the pinnacle of Europe’s premier fashion to communities that were eager to see, in real time and space, a new vision of black America that was the hallmark of Ebony and Jet magazines. Eunice Johnson took over as producer and director in 1963, and under her direction, the traveling show took on new heights as she expanded her cachet and power within fashion circles.

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair recreates the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair through the story of Mrs. Johnson and more than 60 garments from icons of the fashion industry such as Yves St. Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, and Patrick Kelly among others.

If you want to see the Ebony exhibit, do it now! It’s only there until Sunday, May 11, 2014.

We spent all day at the Chicago History Museum (the café is just fine, by the way) and barely scratched the surface. We didn’t get by the Abraham Lincoln or historical clothing sections at all. I can’t wait to go back.

Freezing our Butts off with the Cubbies

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My first smartphone video!

Bro, his Bride, Sis, and I went to the Cubs-Cardinals game on Friday, May 2nd. Nothing beats fun at the old ball park.

Some people start “celebrating” before they even get to the game. A few young women from the neighborhood were walking to the stadium maybe 20 feet ahead of me as they drank from beer cans. There’s a restaurant across Waveland and maybe a block down the street – if that – with outdoor seating. The ladies found a trash container there and deposited their empty cans before crossing the street to enter the ball park. The server who happened to be outside at the moment didn’t say anything to them, but his expression made me think of the little Spartan boy who quietly suffered a fox to gnaw on his vitals.

You could hear the organ from at least 3 blocks away, which put also helped put people in a festive mood before the game. I know I had a spring in my step by the time I offered my purse up for inspection, collected my Red Grange bobblehead (free to the first 10,000 entrants),  and entered the friendly confines.

The thing I’ll probably remember best about “Baseball with Bro” Day had to be the temperature. The high at O’Hare that day was purportedly 52º. It never felt that warm, maybe because the wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour. I wore a turtleneck, windbreaker, hat, scarf, and gloves, but never felt remotely comfortable until Sis shared her commemorative Cubs blanket with Bride and me. Bro was too tough and manly to climb under the blanket with us.

I drank hot (okay, warm) chocolate that mostly seemed to consist of chocolate syrup and water. I make a decent cocoa recipe, which has spoiled me for what’s usually sold in sports venues. However, I was willing to overlook the lack of milk for the small amount of warmth the drink provided. None of us wanted the “ice cold beer” one of the vendors was hawking. The rest of the beer vendors were smart enough to just call it beer if it was Budweiser/Bud Light or premium beer if it was Goose Island. We also sampled a pretzel. Bro had Italian sausage. I think Bride had Giordano’s Pizza (the official pizza of Wrigley Field). I passed, mostly because I’ve lived in the area for-approximately-ever. I know from Giordano’s pizza, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s better in a ball park than it is in the restaurant. Besides, I may be a convert to Pizano’s. But that’s a whole ’nother blog post.

After the temperature, it was the music that really set the atmosphere. The first song I remember was “If They Could See Me Now,” but really, in addition to the national anthem (sung wonderfully by Wayne Messmer) and “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” (sung horribly by me, as loudly as I possibly could), the music was this wonderful stew of decades and styles, with selections that ranged from “Zorba the Greek” through recordings of recent pop and movie soundtracks to “The William Tell Overture.”

Like train stations, ball parks are prime people-watching opportunities. Bro was entertaining, and not only to us. Several other people chuckled at the colorful game commentary he provided. But it’s more interesting to watch people you will probably never see again. I especially enjoyed the woman who seated us. She was tiny, white-haired, dressed head to toe in Cubs’ garb, and carrying a portable oxygen pack. The whole time I’m thinking, “Now, this is a woman who loves her Cubbies.” What else is going to get someone to walk up and down steps, smiling (!), while schlepping oxygen the whole time? I guess they pay her, but seriously!

My next-favorite observational target sat about two rows down and to the right. He was maybe 30, if that. He dressed well: green tweed jacket, coordinating plaid wool scarf, excellent black jeans. He defined hip: not a scrap of Cubs regalia intruded on his carefully crafted ensemble. He fit right in with everyone else in his row. They all looked young, urban, and professional. He was just…more so.

Anyway, I’m writing a short story that uses this pair – or my imagination of them – as characters. If it turns out well, you may see it on this very blog.

Stay tuned.

Getting (Left) Handy

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(Not Really Bro & Bride)

Bro and his lovely Bride are in Chicago this week. We plan to hang out together a lot. There are a few things they’d like to do while in town, but there’s only one fixed item on the agenda: we’re going to a Cubs-Cardinals game. Since Bro, Sis and I grew up (mostly) in the Chicago area, we are supposed to cheer for the Cubs. I think.

It’s complicated for a few reasons. First of all, Bro, Sis and I were born on the South side so there were many White Sox fans in the extended family. It is apparently the job of Sox fans to cheer for whatever team opposes the Cubs. Also, Bro and I both went to school in St. Louis, as did Bro’s Bride. So that’s another reason to cheer for the Cards. However, we did spend many of our formative years northwest of the city. So, re: cheering? I think I’ll see how I feel when we get there. A ballpark is not my natural habitat, which is all the more reason to go, observe, and take lots of notes, if my fingers will work. The high is supposed to be 48 degrees. What a great day for fun at Wrigley Field!

Anyway, we have other places to go and things to do, but Bro and I were deserted by Bride and Sis on Monday, both of whom had to work. The weather was iffy and we needed indoor fun.

I gave Bro a small list of things we could do indoors, and he was especially intrigued by the chance to go shoot arrows. There’s an archery pro shop and range about 20 minutes from my house, called Glisson Archery. I think Nicolas Cage learned how to shoot there, for the movie The Weather Man.

We settled on seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It turned out we wouldn’t have time to do shoot arrows and also go to the movie, so we’ll have to plan archery for another visit. But I have to admit, I was somewhat relieved not to shoot because the last time I went, I discovered that I’m not as strong as I hoped, and it didn’t take long for my left arm to tire. Since I did a lot of ukelele practicing on Sunday—okay, a lot for me—I wasn’t sure how much more stress the left arm would take. It’s noticeable weaker than the right. This is the opposite of Bro, who is left-handed.

So…my mind being what it is, I remembered something I heard about how using your non-dominant hand can enhance your brain power. It has to do with building new neural pathways. They’ve done a few studies on this; here’s just one of them.

When Bro and I do get to shoot arrows, I want to be ready. To accomplish this (and also to honor–or compete with–my left-handed Bro) I tried a few exercises to improve my left-hand dexterity.  I found them on the Livestrong site.