At 5 pm

At 5 pm

Commuters on the bus regard others enjoying the unfettered pleasures of being at the beach at the end of the day.  I look out at the passing scene through the bus window.  Being liberated from work is itself a pleasure, compounded by the pleasure of watching other people enjoying the day.

I think of how only the glass of the window separates me from the bathers, as we fly by on the bus, looking at the seascape just beyond the concrete median.  Yes, only the glass—our attire—the median—the speeding bus—and the destinations we travel toward—separate us from the joy of being at the beach at the end of the day, a humid weekday that’s perfectly draining, that’s made for wasting and whiling away.

One weekend in June

One weekend in June

I decided to accept the invitation of a fellow blogger to post an entry about our weekend.  It resulted in a post much longer than usual, but it was fun to do.   I hope you find it interesting to read.

Father's day bouquet, © 2013 Celia Her City


There were flowers to arrange for Father’s Day.  My husband, who loves flowers, had picked out these.  It’s good they were cheery, because . . . .

Rain soaked scene, © 2013 Celia Her City

the weather that morning was wet and gloomy.


Flowers arranged, I did some chores, including picture-hanging.  We’ve been living in this apartment for seven years, and I have yet to get all of our artwork hung.  I’ve been chipping away at it off and on for years, and now have just a few pieces to go.

Two birds living within trees entwined

As I got out my stepladder and picture-hanging supplies, I thought about how my own father has always known how to do everything, and how many practical skills both my parents taught me.   I am grateful, because the work of my hands makes our home more cozy.


Meanwhile, I was texting with my girlfriend Margie.  She and her husband were coming into town and we were all going out that night to celebrate her birthday.  She had asked me to pick the restaurant; I had picked Mon Ami Gabi.  Now we were figuring out what to wear.

Parking deck view, from on Walton, Chicago © Celia Her City

After my chores and a few phone calls, I scooted out for some last-minute shopping.  I hit Bloomingdale’s, hoping to buy a little something for my friend, and paused in the parking deck to look at the view.  I have happy memories of looking out on this scene at night with my husband when we were first dating.  (From here it’s a short distance to the triangular district on Rush that we call ‘The Party,’ which is a major social scene, on summer nights especially.)

Gift wrap I, © 2013 Celia Her City

Shopping concluded, I reached home about 5.  I wrapped my friend’s gift, wrote a few cards, and got ready to go out.  We met our friends at seven and had a great time.

Entrance to Mon Ami Gabi, at the Belden-Stratford, Chicago © 2013 Celia Her City

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Luckily my husband sleeps late, because I had a present or two to wrap, and I wanted my gifts to be a surprise.

Father's Day present, © 2013 Celia Her City

My husband has one child, a grown son, who hasn’t been happy with us since his father and I married.  It’s sad, because my husband was and is an excellent father.  We celebrate that wholeheartedly on Father’s Day.

My own father was very much in my thoughts, too.  Emergency surgery after a mild stroke last year left him with impaired speech; his cognition, too, has been declining.  I called him on the phone to wish him happy Father’s Day, and came away with a few tears in my eyes.

My husband is an ardent cook and was happy with his gifts, which included a new roasting pan, Steven Raichlen’s The Barbecue Bible, and a bottle of Chipotle Molasses BBQ sauce by the same guy.

A major item on our agenda that day was to roast a slab of BBQ ribs in the oven, which is the only way we can approach barbecue in our dwelling.  We had never figured out how to do it well, so our first task was to settle on a recipe and strategy.  We decided to cook the ribs low and slow, use a rub from an Elle Decor recipe, and get them started at about 3:30.

The scene at the beach, Father's Day, Chicago © 2013 Celia Her City

In the meantime, we drove the short distance north to the park around Montrose Harbor for a walk.  My husband had never really seen the beach side of the park, so we headed up that way and then walked around in a loop from north to south, following the contours of the promontory.  Click images below to enlarge.

The beachside is a real people parade, with thousands trekking singly and in groups across the sandy expanse, which  stretches out away from the city eastwardly.  Out toward the tip, you leave behind the crowds, encountering a naturalized dune, more dog-walkers, and people bound for the jetty.  After that you come to the Magic Hedge bird sanctuary (click on the link for a detailed tour of the Hedge), which has reverted back to an overgrown prairie.

Past the hedge, you come once more to a festive lakefront scene.  The terraced breakwater near Montrose Harbor has a nice lawn perfect for picnicking and offering spectacular views of downtown.  We made the whole loop, enjoying the scene and marveling at the complexity of some family outings.


Back home, we mixed up the dry rub for the ribs and slathered it on.


After almost 4 hours at a low heat, we goosed it up to finish the surface, and, finally, put the barbecue sauce on.

Plated rib dinner, © 2013 Celia Her City

At a little after 8, we sat down to a terrific meal—a delectable tribute to a wonderful guy.  We were at peace and happy to have enjoyed such a marvelous day.

Montrose Avenue Beach

Montrose Avenue Beach

Celia loves going to the everyman beach between Montrose and Foster.  This is where the landscape opens up and buildings recede, taking a back seat to the expansive beauty of the lake and sky.

Thousands of people flocked to the beach and surrounding park yesterday to fish, picnic, sun, play beach volleyball, test the waters; meet up with friends.  Devotees come with plenty of baggage: tents, cardboard boxes laden with food, massive coolers that only the most strapping men can lift.

Ladies following the Islamic code lay on the ground with their husbands, eyes wary, covered with cloth from head to toe.  Not so many yards off, nonchalant teen girls did their best to imitate Kerri Walsh, in skimpy bikinis whacking the volleyball.

In Praise of the Drive

Along the Drive, © 2012 Celia Her CityIt’s all too easy to grow blasé about the city.  I live in a congested neighborhood, where any drive or commute can turn into a hassle; and, all too often, I start out on it stressed out or weary.

Regardless of my mood, I can never be entirely blasé when I’m on Lake Shore Drive.  Not only is it fun if you’re behind the wheel, but everything you see is absolutely beautiful: the architecture, the Lake itself, the parks and landscaping.  The Drive has a zillion moods and zones, and let’s not forget the people-watching. . . . The Drive is like a beautiful necklace adorning our city.

This panorama shows the path that the Drive follows on the near north side, as it threads along the Gold Coast, with the beach on one side.

Click image to enlarge.

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