Posted in 2020, Chicago, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Walking Near Wicker Park

Sometimes on those days when you can’t go to a store or work or a restaurant, maybe the best thing to do is go for a long walk.  The Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago is on the near North side, next to Bucktown and East Village and a very popular place to be.

Built in 1878.

This area is named for an actual park that lies with the geographical boundaries as are a number of neighborhoods in Chicago. When the city was incorporated in 1833 some of the area was included in the original boundaries. The Wicker brothers, Charles and Joel came to Chicago from New England in the early 1800’s. They were merchants and land developers who purchased a number of pieces of land in this area.

Variety of two flats on the block.

The actual park was established in 1868, a 4.3 acre triangle of land that has been changing and evolving ever since. It is not know if either of the brothers ever lived in the actual area named after them.   The homes I photographed here are all on just one street, Hoyne Av., the area is much larger and this in fact was pretty much on one block,   It’s a delightful area to walk in and just appreciate the beautiful architecture and marvel at the preservation.


So beautiful.

Many of these homes were designed as single family homes but were on  two or three city lots and have beautiful gardens surrounding  them as well.  This is simply one street among the many in the Wicker Park area and that only one of the many neighborhoods of Chicago.  Consider a walking tour of one area the next time you are able to visit this beautiful city.





Posted in 2020, 9/11, Aging, Chicago, humor, kathy70, Poland, Quarantine, Quilts, Sewing, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Reflections On A Changing World

The difficulties of today’s world bring to mind other earth shattering events that I managed to live through.  In the early 50’s I was a young child spending the summer with my aunt and uncle and three cousins at their house in the country.  This was something I did many summers at one of my four aunts homes.  All the cousins at this house were older than I was and all were boys, one of them did require a wheelchair and braces to get around as a result of having polio when he was younger.  One day before the end of summer my aunt helped me get ready to come home to Chicago a bit earlier than expected.  I was put on a train and my dad picked me up at the train station and immediately took me to the doctors office.  There I was given a shot.  They had developed a vaccine for polio and that’s what my doctor gave me.  And the world changed.

In the spring of 1963 I went on a trip with my school to Washington DC.  While on that trip we learned that John F. Kennedy would be dedicating a memorial to Paderewski in Arlington National Cemetery and our plans were changed to go to this.  This was a very last minute event and we lined the sidewalk that he walked to get to the podium for his speech. I was about 5 feet away from the President at that time and this made him much larger than life in my eyes.  I was struck by how quickly he walked, how handsome he was and when the sun hit his hair the dark red color of it.  Kennedy spoke about why the composers  body was in this country and not Poland at that time, since Poland was still not a free country.  It took until 1992 for his body to be return to his native Poland.  What an honor we had and no idea we would participate in this.  Later that year he was killed.  And the world changed.

In 1968 I was living just outside Washington DC and that spring I was able to see the display of the Cherry Blossoms in bloom one day before my first daughter was born.  At that time since it was a military hospital I was in a room with 9 other women and there was no television or radio allowed.  We had no knowledge of what was happening unless one of the husbands came in and told us, which they were advised not to.  A few days later while still in the hospital I looked out the windows of the hospital and saw the city of Washington DC on fire.  With plumes of black smoke rising from various parts of the city.  This was the aftermath from the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King.  And the world changed.

A few short months later, I woke in the middle of the night to hear about the death of Bobby Kennedy.  This coming on the heels of Dr. King’s death caused many changes to happen that may not have been obvious to everyone.  Little things  started happening and the citizens of this country were no longer as innocent and may have become a bit jaded and less trusting.  It seemed we had no idea where the next trauma was coming from and in the background of all of this was a war going on in Vietnam.  Protests and marches were going on all over this country people were trying to have their voices heard.  Many were trying just to find their voices. And the world changed.

In the 80’s we had the start of AIDS-HIV in this country and for the most part it was not talked about and we did not really have to worry about it because it only happened to “gay” men. Then confusion and panic that originally surrounded this entire time was very similar to what is happening currently with this pandemic.  Monumental strides have happened in the medical knowledge and the survival rate from that disease but it was not an easy battle.  Sadly, I had friends who died alone because of the initial stigma that was associated with it and the lack of knowledge about how this disease could ever be survivable.  Washington DC was one site for the display of the AIDS quilt panels and I flew in to see this and walked for hours among the panels laid out on the Mall.  I talked and laughed and cried with strangers about the beauty and the sadness of this  display.  I marched for the first time in my life in a protest march down Pennsylvania Avenue with lit candles  to represent the thousands known and unknown represented in that quilt.  I listened to the names being read of those who had died.  And the world changed.

I can only briefly mention the events of September 11, 2001 because I am still very raw in many ways and I work hard to control the trauma I feel daily because of those horrific events. The swift activity and global yet personal nature of that day are often still very fresh and yet the lingering sorrow never seems to go away. I have a young friend from another country who recently said “Well it’s been a long time now and things are just like before aren’t they?” I am sure part of me will never be whole again.  And the world changed.

Today, I cry easily, I have for many years been that person who cried at a Hallmark commercial, now I cry at the weather forecast. I despair because I have no ability to do anything of significance to help except stay at home. This should be a great time to work on those craft projects I have been stockpiling for years.  Then my mind wanders into strange territory and I find it difficult to sit down and try to sketch a simple flower. I have added long solo walks so perhaps I will come out the other end of this a healthier person.

And the world will change.






Posted in 2020, Aging, Chicago, Food, humor, kathy70, Quarantine, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Self-quarantine or New Normal

As a person of a certain age I thought it in my best interest to isolate myself from potential carriers of the new virus.  Let me be clear, I have no symptoms nor have I been around anyone who has been exposed or who has traveled outside the country, that I know of.  Maybe I will be OK, but as much of a risk taker that I am, this has me a bit spooked.

Today in Chicago is rainy and on the cold side, schools have been closed for 2 days as well as restaurants and bars.  My thinking is only a few dog walkers and me will be outside.  If you are forced to stay inside due to events beyond your control it is still possible to catch cabin fever very quickly.  Currently I am the only person in the house other than the unseen upstairs neighbors.  This is a good news/bad news situation, no one to bug you also no one to interact with.  Loneliness can set in quickly or you become Tom Hanks on the island with only Wilson to talk to.

So, I went to the store and was only looking to purchase a few items to help keep me alive.  Some chicken broth a can of beans to make some soup some fresh fruit, just because it is so much better.  Shelves were bare especially in the aisle of canned goods, do adults still really eat those pasta meals in cans????  I don’t think of myself as a snob, I ate that when I was a kid and fed some of that stuff to my own kids, as an adult there is no way.  I really can’t even handle canned or packaged soup anymore.  Oh well, I guess if you have 4 minutes to prepare a meal and that is all that is in the house you eat it.

A few people were wearing face masks, but only a few, we are about 6 blocks away from a large hospital maybe they are staff on their lunch break.  I was wearing regular winter gloves the entire time I was in the store, did not pick up anything without covered hands and they went directly in the washing machine once I got back. People were polite but focused.  Knowing that this might be the last trip to the store for 2 or 3 weeks.  There were much fewer people in the store having gone about the same time a few weeks ago and traffic on the street was much lighter than usual. Quite a few youngish children in the store with the parent who has this shift today or perhaps a grandparent called into service.

Since  this is a big city with excellent public transportation many people do not even own cars, they walk or bus it anywhere.  I wonder if the suburban or small town scene looked much like this.


I did make one “luxury” purchase.  In my household some form of chocolate has always been a pantry staple.  Even those shelves were pretty bare, this looked worse than any store after black Friday.  It is a good thing we are resilient and creative as well as optimistic, somehow I am sure this will become an interesting passage in our history books.  Now for a piece of chocolate.


Another big part of all of out new normal is wiping down every surface touched every day with wipes to prevent germs.  Trying to become creative with whatever food we already have in the house or have spaghetti for breakfast and oatmeal or an omelette for dinner.  How do I get my walking or running done at home without  destroying every wall in the house.



Posted in 2020, Challenge, Chicago, Georgia, humor, kathy70, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #19 Ghosts

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.


Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever been or lived somewhere you thought was haunted?


My Ghost Story

Always kind of thought they were real but not for any specific reason.  Maybe watching too many cartoons as a child of Casper The Ghost.  In my old neighborhood  the house two doors down was one everyone said was haunted.   Far too many people said as they sat on the sofa in the living room they would experience a cold feeling on their feet, especially around the ankles.  Like a cold wind was blowing just under the sofa on their feet.  There was a  painting on the wall that always crooked no matter how many times you straightened it.

Watching a small child talk to a wall, they may see someone we don’t.  A dog or cat staring or barking at an empty part of the room also makes you thing maybe they are seeing or hearing or smelling something we can’t.

Right now I am visiting a friend whose home is well over 100 years old.  On a day when I am the only person in the house and suddenly a closet or pantry door is slightly open???  Something I put next to the kitchen sink is now in the sink.  This is not any scary kind of feeling, just a warm friendly feeling almost like someone is glad I am staying here right now.

I went on a haunted tour of  Savannah Georgia and according to the tour guide this was the second most haunted city in the US. The guide explained that because there was a hospital here during the civil war there were many restless spirits here. He also went on to explain that before the war the mixture of pirates and upright citizens often clashed creating some of those ghosts.  This was an entertaining and interesting tour and I would recommend it to any visitor to Savannah.

Posted in 2020, Anchorage, Chicago, Chiditarod, humor, kathy70, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes



Alaska has the Iditarod starting today, Chicago ran the CHIditarod on the same day.  This is a fund raiser for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  Teams of five costumed participants push a shopping cart around city streets between check-in points.  Each team has five people, four as the sled dogs and one as the musher.


Each team also collects food items and funds for this good cause.  The whole time having lots of fun in both the planing and the doing.  These are a few of the teams I saw arriving at the check point I was at.


The checkpoint I stopped at had a live band playing on the street in front of the building, lots of loud music inside and refreshments of all kinds.  The people participating and just the people in the area certainly were having a good time. There were games to participate in each check point for the “dogs and mushers.”

Many of the costumes were very creative and it was obvious they also spent a lot of time gathering the decorations for the cart.  People participating were all ages and had a glorious spring day for this event.   My favorite were the ones in the safety vests looking like city workers.  I will certainly be participating in this at some capacity next year.

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Posted in 2020, Birds, Chicago, humor, kathy70, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Late Winter Day At The Zoo


It is not quite springtime yet here, they still have snow in the forecast, but it was a great sunny day so off to the zoo I go.  More excited about being outside for a couple of hours and not getting frostbite.  Chicago area is fortunate to have more than one zoo nearby and the Lincoln Park Zoo has a long history here.

The zoo opened in 1868 and is one of the oldest in the US.  It is also one of a few free zoos around.  It is on the North side of Chicago right near the lakefront and covers 35 acres of prime real estate.  Portions of the zoo are undergoing renovations now so not all the animals are in residence.  Many have been sent to other zoos during this time.

All year long the zoo plays host to a large variety of events designed to bring awareness and educate us all.  It has transitioned greatly over the many years I have been going there all with keeping the animals healthy and happy.  Mid week on a sunny day was a marvelous time to walk in the zoo.

Who knew flamingos liked to be outside in our cold weather.  A couple of local birds in with them?

From inside the Primate House.


These zebras are enjoying the day as much as I did.

Don’t forget to add this to your list of places to visit on your next trip to Chicago.

Posted in 2020, Aging, Chicago, humor, kathy70, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Field Museum Again

This is from my most recent trip to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL.  I grew up in Chicago and have been going to this museum since I was a small child and I still find new things on each visit.  What a great way they have of keeping it vital and different, not just the temporary exhibits change, but they constantly reevaluate the permanent displays and rework or repair or replace as necessary.

The temporary exhibit on bugs had a live demonstration while we were there and grandma was the only one brave enough to put out her hand and have the millipede in her hand.  My big (they are 22 and 14 and both taller than I am) grandson’s passed on this choice.

One of the other things we were amazed at were the dioramas that were very old, but absolute perfection.  It really was interesting to see these throughout the museum.

The new dino on display, the panda and items from Tibet were also hits.  Make sure you add this to your list when you visit Chicago next.

Posted in 2019, Aging, Birds, Chicago, Rambling thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized, Yes

Garfield Park Conservatory


Chicago area has the luxury of many  places to visit with amazing flower displays and exotic as well as native plants. I recently spent a blissful day wandering in and out this conservatory and just wanted to share another great thing about this area. Another bonus, the entrance fee is a suggested donation and I would urge you to be as generous as you can.


This took a few years to build and opened in 1908, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and is truly a gem in the city. There are 10 acres of outdoor space and 2 acres under glass and this is open all year.  Most of the area is wheelchair accessible and very interactive with lots of special displays all year long. The website is very easy to navigate and full of information about events and special displays.


This summer an agave plant grew so tall they removed a section of glass from the roof to allow it the opportunity to achieve its full height. The day I visited it was well over 35 feet tall already and still growing.  The hope was that it would bloom and they would be able to harvest seeds.


Part of the outdoor area had a field planted with a large variety of cabbage, on harvest day these were going to be given to all who came to the conservatory that day.  There was a large raised bed garden with tomato and pepper plants.  A lunch area and a gift shop are all in the greenhouse with a nice outdoor cafe area for the nice summer days. Certainly a destination year round, accessible by public transportation as well as a parking lot for your vehicle.



Posted in 2019, Aging, Chicago, football, Travel, Uncategorized, Yes

NFL Experience 100 Years


This week was the 100th year of National League Football in America.  The NFL Experience came to Chicago to celebrate and kickoff the first game of the season.  Everything was there, main stage for filming, giant screens throughout Grant Park to watch, Super Bowl rings on display and photo ops around every corner.  On top of that the whole thing was free to any fans that choose to show up.


Since I am a long time football fan and I was in the general vicinity, I decided to go and see what was up.  It was a beautiful sunny day with cloudless blue skies and a gentle breeze off Lake Michigan.  If nothing else happened, it was a great day to walk around downtown Chicago.


After the obligatory, in today’s world, metal detectors and bag check, you were inside the experience.  There were a multitude of orange shirted volunteers to point you in the right direction as well as signposts to help.  So many photo ops it was hard to choose the best.  Football related shops to buy whatever a fan might need.  All in all a really fun day and I would certainly go if there is an opportunity near you.  I also had the chance to have my photo taken with the NFL Lombardi Trophy!!!