Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Random Assortment

~ On Living in a FLW house:

In Wright’s original plan, there were doors from those rooms to the backyard. Paul remembered, “I said, ‘Mr. Wright, we don’t want our children escaping in the middle of the night.’ ” Helen jumped in, saying, “He gave us quite a lecture on why we shouldn’t be so controlling of children.”

~ Can't ever get enough about Elizabeth Bishop.

~ This is awesome:

“Actually,” Istvan said in a cheerful tone, “it’s far more dangerous coming downhill, because we’re relying on 40-year-old brake pads here.”
Although I was not sure I wanted to live forever, I was sure that I didn’t want to go down in a blaze of chintzy irony, plunging into a ravine strapped into the passenger seat of a thing called the Immortality Bus. For all that Istvan railed against the tyranny of death over human lives, his attitude toward basic road safety was at times wildly cavalier. The fact that he was piloting a 38-foot coffin bus through New Mexico did not, for instance, stop him from looking at his phone every couple of minutes, responding to texts and emails, checking the social-media analytics on his latest piece for TechCrunch, etc.
... Reading on, I learned how I, or my soul, might survive the death of my body and all other worldly things by surrendering myself to the Lord. I remembered asking Horn, earlier that day, about how his religious upbringing might have informed his belief that he would live forever through science. He said there was no longer any need for gods.“Science is the new God,” he said. “Science is the new hope.”
...While Istvan fielded a call from his irate wife about an overflowing toilet he failed to repair before setting off across the country to promote immortality, I took the opportunity to quiz Horn about his lifestyle choices.He was a transhumanist ascetic, a young man who had largely withdrawn from the world so that he might never have to leave it.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Chicago, The Art Institute

The trinity.
Important Mercedarians. 

I like this depiction of the Annunciation. Why settle for one lily when you could have a whole field?

The old stock exchange. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chicago, Hull House

Unfortunately, I don't know how to rotate this picture. A tile depiction of Hull House. Full of life.  

Did you know that Hull House used to have a whole block of community buildings? I didn't. The house itself and the dining hall are all that remain.

Decorations on the kids' cubbies at the kindergarten. I've never seen cubbies this great. 

There were pictures of the original wallpaper and it was great--some was made by William Morris's daughter.

Mail slots with push pin marks.

What a great office. 

Addams' bedroom. I love wallpaper. 

Art by a WPA artist. 

Dining hall. 

Hull House. 

Dining hall. 

Overall, what an inspiring place. And what a center of philosophy, art and culture--John Dewey and Frank Lloyd Wright were often there, among many others.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chicago, Again

Someone and I had a blissful 36 hours in Chicago alone, thanks to Nana and Papa Leopard. We stayed in a charming hotel in Wicker Park.

When we arrived, Someone had a work, so I read in their lounge/coffee shop/bar, which was mid-century modern hipster bliss. (Technically I had to work to, but it was such great stuff I was reading, it doesn't really count as work.) (And had a $5.50 cup of tea, which is the priciest I've ever had.) (But after the highway I survived on the way in, I needed it.)

Above: A picture from the rooftop bar where our cocktails that were so niche that the descriptions meant nothing to me and the bartender had to translate, and where they lit the clove inserted in the orange peel on fire before serving me the drink. The bar was so hip that Someone and I were among its oldest clientele, which was a really disorienting experience for us.

The morning views from our room.

That night, after some great Indian food, we also went to a Dostoevsky short story that was made into a play, which, although it was dark, we really enjoyed. And they encouraged you to buy a beer at the cheap little bar in the center of the four stages and bring it with you to the performance. That led to some ill-timed laughter, but was overall wonderful.

The next morning: Kidless mass, coffee and donuts, brunch, Hull House, fast food Thai, the Art Institute, and then a drive home. More pictures to come.

Monday, March 13, 2017


This year we live in the poorest neighborhood in which I've ever lived. There aren't a lot of open rental options in this town. And we're committed to living downtown where we can walk rather than drive to most places. This was the only apartment we found and the others that emerged later were comparable.

I step over and around dog poop most days on my way to work. I walk past houses that are in disrepair, inhabited, it appears, by hoarders. And our daycare is a disaster. It is worse than I imagined that daycares could be and has spiraled downhill since we started there. We intentionally chose a daycare we could walk to. Well, that, and it was the only one that had a space. There's another daycare in town that has spaces from time to time, and that one feeds them twix bars for snacks and sets them in front of a tv from 4-5 each day.

The child is occasionally bitten by one of his friends. He bears it with equanimity, and I can't really blame his friend. One day I heard the daycare staff whispering. From what I could pick up, it seemed that no parent came to pick the biter up and so his grandmother had to be called. He treats my kid like crap, but I can't really blame him at all.

The kids can't play outside at daycare because the daycare's yard is a mud pit. There are other issues.

But I didn't mean this as a rant against our neighborhood. I actually meant to write some nice things. Today while I was walking the kid home from daycare, two little girls with whom we often stop to chat ran toward us. They had some Valentine's candy leftover and wanted to share it with the kid. He picked out a red sucker and couldn't have been happier. The girls wanted to show me the rest of their haul, and they offered me the nicest candy they had, which of course I didn't take.

Their parents, once, when we'd walked by the every-Saturday yard sale in front of their house, insisted that we take a toy for the kid. They gave him a little bear holding a pencil. It was in honor of secretaries. I am ashamed to say I ran it through the dryer for a while when we got home.

The little girl has begged to go into her home to pick out a toy for the kid before, and I refused. There's only so much giving that you can handle without reciprocating.

There are many neighbors with disabilities who live nearby in what used to be a school. When the weather is nice they sit outside on some benches, and the kid and I stop sometimes to say hello and chat on the way home. I'm pretty sure that just being a neighbor is better than volunteering. Anyway, a kid is a good icebreaker. He likes the neighbors and they like him. One woman gave us a cross she stitched on plastic canvas. The kid loves crosses and carried it around our house for weeks. Another neighbor who has trouble speaking gave us a piece of paper with his name and thoughts. They've given us fudge left over from a potluck--a great treat at the end of a long day.

What I meant to write about our neighborhood is that I've never really met such friendly people who want to give you something every time they see you. And half the time we wonder what the heck we're doing living in a place like this, and half the time I think this is exactly where we're supposed to live, and what having neighbors is about.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


We took the Hoosier State train to Chicago last week. It's an old train that took its last trips in February. It has a very civilized dining car where we had breakfast.

We had only a short day in Chicago--we went to mass, went out for Middle Eastern food for lunch, saw what the kid and I called "the big kidney bean," which he loved and tried to eat. And watched the ice skaters.

We found a wonderful playground, which the kid also loved.

We stopped by the beautiful Cultural Center, where there was some African dancing, which entranced us all.

We stopped for tea and coffee at Intelligentsia, before grabbing slices for dinner and catching the train home.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Monday, March 6, 2017


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Another Thing

I've been trying to sing the kid more folk songs, and he's asked for Oh My Darling. When I sing it he asks, Why is she gone for ever?

It's funny because I think that my impulse is to protect my kid from unhappy truths like the fact of death, which he can't really understand right now anyway. And I think it's my responsibility to protect him from a lot of things, as far as I can, but I don't think it's my responsibility to avoid talking about death.

First of all, Christianity makes it impossible--the cross, our central picture, is all about death (and, after that, resurrection). The kid asks sometimes why Jesus on the cross looks sad. And so I try to tell him.

Ash Wednesday is all about our mortality--for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

I also think that folk songs teach us that the good, the bad, and the ugly should all be processed out loud and passed down. And I suspect that if we talk to our kids about it before they can really understand it, it won't be so taboo. And then we retell the stories again and again as they get older, understanding a little more each time.

But yes, he gets that Oh My Darling is sad and that being gone forever is uncomfortable.

Plato's Cave

Best illustration ever.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Children's Books

Hide and Seek Fog

It's obvious that the Caldecott Honor choosers are adults and not children, because I love this but the kid gets a little bored.
The Snowy Day

What a feast for the eyes.

Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences

We love these poems, which Ilana sent. I thought it would be a long time before the kid enjoyed these, since they're pretty abstract. But he thinks they're clever. (Not that he gets them, but he likes to laugh!)

Legends of the Saints

I thought that it would take a lot longer for the kid to be interested in these, too, cause there aren't loads of pictures, but he likes them a lot.


I picked this up from the library sale (along with armfuls of other books). It's old and a little random, but I love this octopus.

Saint George and the Dragon

Thanks to this wonderful book we could convince the kid that he was a brave knight when he had to get lab work done. Duty, dragons, miraculous healing. What more could you want? (Thanks Ilana!)

Song of the Swallows

I love this. The pictures are wonderful--it's about California missions. And there's music included. (Not that I can make heads or tales of that.)