Captives of the Pride

Captives of the Pride

Located in the sliver of Lakeview bounded by Sheridan, Diversey, Belmont, and the Inner Drive, our neighborhood is paralyzed annually by the Pride Parade.

If we don’t go out of town, we must choose between staying in all day, or going out all day, because once you leave the neighborhood in a car, bus, or cab, it’s hard to return.  One year we drove somewhere in our car and tried to get back, only to be stopped by the police and told that the roads were still closed for cleaning, even though by then it was at least 6:30.  The roads that remain open during the parade are choked with traffic, so that it’s impossible to get anywhere anyway.

By noon, the air was filled with the sounds of helicopters, honking horns, emergency sirens, distant drums.  We headed for the only refuge we could think of, setting out on foot to visit the zoo.

Zoo goers on a dappled path, © 2013 Celia Her City

Zoo going, © 2013 Celia Her City

About a quarter-mile to the south, it was a haven of peace.  The weather was cool, and we very much enjoyed looking at the exotic animals.  The aardvark, in particular, spoke to me.

Aardvark in hiding, © 2013 Celia Her City

It was a good way to fill the afternoon until the return of peace.

Click on images to enlarge.

Our June bride

The wedding, © 2013 Celia Her City

Today our niece was married in a beautiful open-air ceremony.

The day was hot, and the stylist persuaded CC at the last moment to have her hair put up, its thick coils enhancing the dignity of an already impressively radiant bride.

Seeing her so transformed into maturity and entering gracefully into this important commitment marked a wonderful moment in our family life.  To recall the day of her baptism and compare that new being to this was to appreciate anew the marvelous nature of her journey.  I admire my sister for having raised two such personable and accomplished girls.

The bridal couple chose the historic Fruitlands farm, in Harvard, Massachusetts, for the setting.  This was once a utopian community, where in the 1840s Transcendentalists like Bronson Alcott (Louisa May’s father) sought to achieve an ideal and harmonious style of living.  Choosing a spectacular tract of land, high on a hill with expansive views, there they farmed and planted orchards.

Today, in a tent pitched on that very site, we celebrated the beginning of a new and hopeful enterprise.  May the future of this young couple be studded with felicity and joy!

Old Town Art Fair

Old Town Art Fair

The Old Town Art Fair is this weekend.  It’s one of the better outdoor art festivals, so my husband and I always go. This year’s fair was one of the best, so if you’re in town I recommend it, both for the art and the people-watching.

Making the Old Town Art Fair scene, © 2013 Celia Her City

The fair is crammed into the notoriously narrow streets of the tony Old Town neighborhood.  The crowd is heavily white and upscale, so much so that we saw almost no people of color, except for a mailman, who, undeterred by the festivities, was out delivering the mail and earning a living.  Female fair-goers deck themselves out for this event, loading on the jewelry, the designer shoes, and one-of-a-kind dresses (this year including many maxis).

Old Town charm, © 2013 Celia Her City

Old Town is filled with many beautiful old homes with postage-stamp yards and secret back gardens lying at the end of narrow, old, brick paths and alleys.    The fair combines with a garden walk, inviting visitors to look up from the art and appreciate their surroundings.

Visitors to the Old Town Art Fair, © 2013 Celia Her City

The fair’s organizers have made significant changes this year to make the fair more lively and interesting.  Nearly forty percent of the exhibitors are new, while the number of booths is smaller than previously.  I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures of the art and artists, but two who stood out were Candra Boggs and Taylor Mazer.  I also liked the work of Daryl Thetford (lead image, above).

Salad bowl by Stephen Noggle, © 2013 Celia Her City

We bought a salad bowl made of ash from Stephen Noggle.

There were a number of amazing jewelry stalls (perhaps a disproportionate number), many clustered along Orleans.  The creations of Dora Winchester and Thomas Turner were mouth-watering and made me long to buy something.

I also admire the work of P. A. Kessler, a veteran exhibitor, whose meticulous botanical watercolors are distinctive and lovely.  We have one of her large orchid paintings, which we like very much.  She, like many other artists here, offers work at widely varying prices, so that visitors on a budget can still patronize the artists by buying something small.

Old Town green, © 2013 Celia Her City

Looking at art is tiring, so for relief we headed to the Grill on the Green, a sweet outdoor cafe that the Church of Three Crosses runs.

Old Town brats, © 2013 Celia Her City

Go for the veal brats!

The man selling tickets sold us on the veal brats, which were delicious!  Volunteers from the church had plenty of Chicagoans’ favorite foods on the grill.

Relaxing at the Grill on the Green (Chicago), © 2013 Celia Her City

It was very pleasant to be outside on a passable day.  (The weather was cool but not rainy; there was even some sun.)  The grill doesn’t have alcohol, but several nearby concessions were selling drinks, beer, and wine.  Like everything else at the fair, the food and live music have noticeably improved.

Though I’m shy, I love going to the fair and even chatting with the artists sometimes.  Even if I can’t buy anything, I learn more about the exhibitors afterward by looking at their links, listed on the fair’s easy-to-use web gallery.  Many artists blog about what it’s like to travel around like this trying to sell their art, which ends up being a colorful if difficult and unpredictable way of life.  While they come from all over, some of the exhibiting artists are local, and many show at other Chicago festivals, so there are chances to see their work again and buy something next time.

Admission is $7.  A modest cost for a memorably good time.

Click images to enlarge.

Buy me spring

Buy me spring

Desperate as we are, Mr C. and I willingly plunked down the price of admission to enjoy an indoor version of spring.  It lasted just a few hours, and flowers bloomed under fluorescent lights, but hey: there were tulips and daffodils and delighted smiles in abundance.

Photo-op, Chicago Flower and Garden Show, © 2013 Celia Her City

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show comes along just as the light is changing.  Experienced Chicagoans know that spring is still probably a good month off, and that we may still be wearing our overcoats on the first of May.  Cravenly, though, we allow ourselves to be seduced into attending the Garden Show, which offers the illusion that spring has arrived.

The setting of the Garden Show, Navy Pier's Festival Hall, © 2013 Celia Her City

The artifice bothers me, but Mr C admires the insane amount of effort that goes into this show.  Twenty gardens are created inside the Navy Pier terminal, many with sizable evergreens, water features, and flowering trees.  Flagstone paths and terracing.  Sizable boulders with moss.  Masses of ranunculus, hyacinth, azaleas, and other delicate plants, with colors so bright they defy photography.  (Most of the pictures I took were surprisingly poor.)

Edible plants line a meditation circle, Chicago Flower and Garden Show, © 2013 Celia Her City

Bedding plants with gravel and evergreens, Chicago Flower and Garden Show, © 2013 Celia Her City


A planted terrace at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, © 2013 Celia Her City

Banks of daffodils at the 2013 Chicago Flower and Garden Show, © 2013 Celia Her City

About half of the exhibition space is given over to a marketplace, where vendors sell cut flowers and pussy willows, organic and locally produced specialty foods, garden tools and services, as well as bulbs and seeds.

Roses for sale, © 2013 Celia Her City

Although the garden show has a commercial feel, it serves the worthy purpose of trying to feed Chicagoans’ interest in gardening by offering tips on garden design, plants, and integrating gardening into life itself.  The show, which runs through March 17, offers brief demonstrations and lectures on a range of subjects, including cooking with garden produce and container planting.

Throw and Grow dispenser of seedbombs, © 2013 Celia Her City

There is even this nod to guerrilla gardening.

We Can Grow It: A Mural created for the Peterson Garden Project by students at the Senn High School, © 2013 Celia Her City

My favorite installation was that of the Peterson Garden Project, whose goal is to interest every Chicagoan in growing food, whether in community gardens, containers, vertical installations, or on the rooftops of their buildings.  The Peterson installation featured a wonderful mural designed and created by students from the Senn High School.  “We Can Grow It!” it proclaimed.

And so we shall, when the right moment comes.