Monday, October 19, 2009

Dusk walk thru Winnemac Park in autumn

I got home at around 6 this evening and took a walk down through Winnemac Park, shooting these pictures with my cell phone along the way -- sorry they're blurry, I was working quickly because I was losing the light. From my apartment I walk south on Leavitt past Foster, where I'm passing Chappell Elementary School on my left. The autumn colors are really nice right now, though some trees have yet to change.

Then I go past Jorndt Stadium on my left; you can just see a soccer game in progress with fans sitting in the bleachers. The Stadium entrance is the old-fashioned kind made of brick that reminds me of Roosevelt Pool in Glenview.

Still further south are tennis courts . . .

. . . and a large play lot, which at the moment has the Park's best selection of (small) sugar maples.

I walked east along the paved walkway that bisects the Park, with the Stadium now on my left beyond some natural grasses.

Looking east, my quarry: a stand of red maples at peak color on the east side of the Park around the Amundsen High School parking lot.

Beyond the red maples, the high school building itself. It was such a beautiful evening, in the 60s with a clear sky, so lots of people were out with their kids and dogs. The Park has at least 3 baseball diamonds, none of them in use tonight.

BY THE WAY -- uploading these pictures to Blogger was a nightmare -- why doesn't the "BR CLEAR=ALL" tag work here as it should?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A few blocks from 40-acre Winnemac Park

Yesterday I went out for a walk, and although I planned to turn left from my street and go north to explore the Bowmanville area just south of Rosehill Cemetery, something led me to turn right instead and go south, to what I thought was simply the playfields of Amundsen High School and the adjacent Chappell Elementary School.

What I discovered was a 40-acre park, Winnemac Park, for which I can't find many photos online (I didn't have my phone with me). The park currently has some really nice red maple trees at peak color.

What a lovely place -- walking paths, both paved and unpaved -- areas of recovered prairie -- lawns for kids to run around in -- a big playground.

The playfields, incidentally, include a stadium, Jorndt Stadium, which appears to have a 1/4 mile track that's open to the public. (Wish I were still a runner! Reminds me of the track in Germantown, Philadelphia, where I ran for years in the early 1980s.) Just east of the stadium is a soccer field where I saw a team practicing.

The neighborhood boundaries in Chicago are far more elastic than I would have thought -- here's a YouTube video about the area just south of Winnemac Park, which the narrator describes as North Ravenswood and Lincoln Square. He walks through the Park and gets some fairly nice footage, taken last May, I believe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Some natural shocks I have been heir to . . .

I've just sent a long-ish email to a friend in Colorado, who was kind enough to send me some gifts to help me cope. And since I'm not blogging very often right now, I thought I'd use some of what I emailed her as an update.

It's been a rather hard week, in which I've been dealing with some burnout and depression. I'm glad to say I'm feeling pretty good this morning. It seems that the more I "plant myself" in this apartment and just spend time here, reading and watching movies, the more grounded I feel, and that helps a good deal.

Taking care of my mother has has some frustrations this past week, both because of things she's doing/saying and because of her medical situation. Her primary care physician has ruled out surgery to remove the skin cancers on her scalp, which may mean she'll have to live with them for the rest of her life. He says she can go to a plastic surgeon's office every few months and have them "shaved," and I'm awaiting a phone call with more info on what that actually means.

I took Mom on a tour on Saturday of the new facility I want to move her to, Covenant Home of Chicago. She liked some things about it, and not other things. I'm going to ask her a direct question about it today when I see her, and if she says she's willing to go, we can start working toward a move-in date.

I'm looking forward to being within walking distance, though the walk from my apartment to Covenant isn't all that relaxing, since I have to cross Western Avenue, a 4-lane street that's pretty busy.

I've been doing my best to go to Curves more regularly, though the Curves I belong to is in Evanston. Transferring my Curves membership from Colorado to Evanston was incredibly slow and frustrating, so I may just stay in Evanston for a while, where the staffers are very friendly and where they turn down the music sometimes if people ask them to.

I've been getting traffic tickets, which is frustrating and such a waste of money. Every month or two, Chicago cleans its streets, which means everybody has to avoid parking on one side of the street between 9 and 3, and last month I got a $50 ticket for parking where I shouldn't.

My new apartment has a mechanical hum in the livingroom that I think must be the heat, because the heating plant is in the basement below me. I wish I'd known that when I moved in, I might have chosen the other available apartment. I really hate anything that tempts me to plan to move again in a year, I've moved so much I'm very weary of moving.

I'm trying to get back to my "ritual self," the part of me that can do rituals to get in touch with my spiritual side. It takes initiative and calm and groundedness, and I'm generally rather burned out on taking initiative and low on calm and groundedness, so I suspect it will be a while.

In the past I've been inclined to believe that my life will generally balance out, so that if something really wonderful is happening, I'll also have something rather awful happening to balance it. If that's the case, then that would explain the natural shocks I've been heir to since moving here, since the work I've been doing with Mom really is wonderful most of the time and one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. There are few things more meaningful than alleviating suffering. When I arrived in May, Mom was spending most of her time lying on her bed crying. She is now sitting up with light in her eyes talking about the world with me, and reading novels and doing crossword puzzles. Big difference!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My sister on WGN for the Chicago Barn Dance Company

My sister, Jo Mortland, is a caller for the Chicago Barn Dance Company, which hosts contra dances and square dances around the City.

She was interviewed for WGN-TV this past week, view it here.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I hadn't heard of this before -- a website that makes it easier to leak a document, called Wikileaks. Now it's offering a way to help people leak documents on their own websites. Here's an article about it at Computerworld.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Colorless bathroom no more

For my three years in Longmont, Colorado, I had one of the most spectacular bathrooms I've ever seen, and certainly the most beautiful and luxurious I've ever lived with. Its walls were salmon-orange, it featured a Jacuzzi tub and a shower lined with granite and offering water from 4 directions and a shelf to sit on.

So it's been a challenge to accustom myself to the tiny bathroom in my new apartment in Chicago. There's virtually no color, or space to turn around for that matter.

And I fixed it for about 18 bucks, with a shower curtain purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond. The outer wall contains a window, and my lease makes me responsible for not damaging that wall with water. So I'd planned to put up a transparent plastic sheet to protect the window. But hah! I came up with a better plan -- I put up a colorful curtain that acts as a mural to enliven the whole bathroom. It's got 3 dolphins (2 of them leaping into the air) and a host of brilliantly colored undersea creatures.

The only downside was the smell -- eau de plastique extraordinaire. I left the window open today hoping that some of the plastic smell will dissipate into the atmosphere.

Watching a muralist at work

Paul Barker, who attends Evanston Friends Meeting, is shown painting a mural, and talking about how to paint a mural, in this video on YouTube, posted by another member of Meeting, Jeff McNear