How old do I look, anyway?

I know I’m getting old, but it still surprises me how many other people notice this, too.

I passed a panhandler on the street this week, and he called out to me “Hey, Clint Eastwood!”

The grandkids called my wife for her birthday, and reassured her that “You’re not old. Grandpa’s old.”

This morning I walked up the stairs to the top of our building (twenty floors). I was waiting to take the elevator down (save the knees) when the roof inspectors came by.

“You live on twenty?” one asked.

“No, I just walk up the stairs for exercise,” I replied.

“Twenty floors?! You’re kidding!”

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North Pond

We are lucky in that we live next to Lincoln Park (you can see part of it in the “Edgewater Beach Now” picture on the right side of this blog). Although I have spent many hours in the park this summer, I still haven’t seen all that it has to offer. Today we travelled a few miles south of our building and visited the park’s North Pond. (Lincoln Park is about seven miles long.)

North Pond has been reclaimed, restored, and is now a native prairie and wetland area. We saw lots of butterflies and bees in the extensive wildflower fields. Down by the lake we saw a Great Blue Heron.

We did not see this particular bird, but one that looked just like it

There was a birder there who identified the heron for us, and told us that it was a young one, probably making his first trip down from Minnesota or Northern Michigan to the south. He could tell by its color that it was male. He said it would probably winter over in Texas or Florida. I remember seeing birds like this on January bike rides through Brookshire.

Ducks and turtles were also out on the lake. In addition, we found a Michelin-starred little restaurant tucked away in the park.

North Pond Restaurant

Although we did not eat there – advance reservations only – CVH went inside and spoke with the general manager, and now she wants to go back and have brunch.

We continued our walk and went around the Nature Museum, which has been edifying Chicago residents since 1869, if you can imagine. That was before the Great Fire! (Although North Pond was not here at the time, the Fire did reach this far, miles from the O’Leary barn.) The original museum burned in the fire, as you might expect.

Nature Museum on North Pond in the Springtime

The grounds around the Museum are a delight for city dwellers. The location was popular with what appeared to be wedding engagement photo shoots. We tried not to insert ourselves in too many of them, but it was a busy place.

Not as busy inside the park as it was right outside, though. It was perfect Sunday weather for visiting the park, and traffic was horrendous. Outside the park cars kept circling, looking for parking spots and honking their horns. Fortunately, we didn’t hear any of this inside the park, and more fortunately, we took the bus.

After the museum area, we went to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

Really pretty.

The Lily Pool has been around since 1889, and its fortunes waxed and waned over the years until it was restored about twenty years ago. It is just stunning now. More photo shoots. Old-timers will note that the Muzak has been removed.

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Full Moon Jam

Although the full moon was two nights ago, there was a Full Moon Jam in the park this evening.

This has been going on for over fifteen years. A bunch of people beat on drums and others dance with torches.

I’m sure it takes practice to do this without scorching yourself.

It’s probably more enjoyable if you’re on drugs.

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Buddha Heads

A Chicago (or maybe Evanston) artist has installed a number of Buddha heads around the city. Several of them lie between the lakefront bike path and the freeway, and I pass by them regularly.

The artist, Indira Johnson, says the images are intended to invoke feelings of calm and peace.

There are those who, noting that this is not a traditional way of depicting the Buddha, complain that this is cultural appropriation. Rare, though, is the art piece that doesn’t upset someone.

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The Balbo Monument

The Balbo Monument consists of an ancient Roman breccia column on top of a plinth. It commemorates a difficult transatlantic seaplane crossing by the Italian aviator Italo Balbo. The column dates to the period of Julius Caesar, and comes from the ancient port city of Ostia. It was a gift to Chicago from Benito Mussolini.

Not well thought of by everybody

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Rome, so I thought I’d best go see it while I could, before it is cancelled out of existence (it has already been removed from Google Maps). I rode a Divvy bike downtown to seek it out.

The Balbo Monument in prouder days

It’s not too hard to find if you’re looking for it, but it doesn’t stand out anymore. The pine trees in the photo above have grown all around it to hide it from view, and it’s surrounded by a ten foot chain link fence. Still, it’s fascinating to see something that stood in the city when and where Cleopatra’s ships unloaded their grain to make Roman bread. As long as you don’t focus on who gave it to us.

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Old Folks Breakfast

There’s a nice local sausage available in Louisville, “Old Folks”:

“It’s gooo-od”

At my age, however, breakfast sausage is allowed only as a rare treat.

So my summer cold cereal shelf looks like this:

Plus I can eat the box for approximately the same effect.

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Hey, Grandpa!

I had no idea, but there is a whole series of these books for elementary school children. With titles like “What Did We Do Before Online Shopping?” and “What Did We Do Before Social Media?”

I should get busy writing and knock out a few myself. How about:

  • “What Did We Do Before Seat Belts?”
  • “What Did We Do Before Low-Fidelity Streaming Music?”
  • “What Did We Do Before College Was Unaffordable?”
  • “What Did We Do Before Strict Drunk Driving Laws?”
  • “What Did We Do Before People Shot Up Schools And Churches?”
  • “What Did We Do Before Free Pornography On The Internet?”
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Me vs The Roadmaster

Coming home from the store a while back, we saw a Roadmaster parked in the neighborhood.

Similar to this one

“It’s a Roadmaster,” my wife said.

“Yes, it is,” I agreed.

“Doesn’t look like it’s in very good shape,” she added.

“Looks like a ’91 to me,” I said.


I added, “I was in good shape in ’91, and look at me now.”

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The New Yorker Perspective

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an review of a new Chicago skyscraper. Otherwise laudatory, the writer found it necessary to mention that the building, and Chicago, sits on the east side of Lake Michigan.

It’s bad enough that the WSJ feels it is necessary to mention Chicago is on Lake Michigan, but the east side?

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The Walnut Room

We went to the Sundays On State street festival on this beautiful Chicago summer day. There was lots of singing and dancing and we got hungry and went into the old Marshall Field’s store (some people call it “Macy’s”). One of the few remaining grand department stores.

The Walnut Room has been serving lunch since 1907. It’s a lovely place for lunch, and yes, it has a lot of walnut.

The Walnut Room

My grandmother would take me there as a treat when I was a tot.

More walnut.

They also have drag show brunches.

But I don’t remember that from when I was little.

I had their signature chicken pot pie, “based on the original 1890 recipe”. It’s interesting to taste a little of what people ate way back when. The bowl in this promotional picture is labelled “Marshall Field and Company”, but mine said “The Walnut Room”. I don’t know if they really have any bowls left that say “Marshall Field”. That just doesn’t seem like something Macy’s would allow.

The maitre d’ came by and I told him it was just like it was sixty years ago. He said that he hears that a lot.

The Walnut Room is on the seventh floor, and although CVH does not like elevators, she likes stairs and escalators even less. The elevators have been modernized a little in the last sixty years; for example, the lady in the corner who took you up and down is no longer there.

Elevator operators

The elevators still have mechanical annunciators. I thought the sound was really neat, but the scrape-clunk-ding just made my wife nervous. And when all the button lights went out and the elevator zipped down to the ground floor she was not reassured. The sign on the elevator that said “Out of Order” didn’t exactly help, either. These elevators are victims of deferred maintenance. Who knows how much longer the store will be open….

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