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.

Perfect devotion

Photograph of a dog waiting for its owner outside Einstein Brothers' Bagels, Chicago

The dog was so still that at first I thought it was a lawn ornament, put there by the owners of the shop.  As I got closer, I saw that the dog was real, but that it was utterly intent on its owner’s return.

Closeup of a dog waiting for its owner outside Einstein Brothers' Bagels, Chicago

I always feel apprehensive when I see a nice dog like this left alone on a sidewalk, however briefly.  I feel the animal’s vulnerability, which, in a busy urban setting, is real.  What a relief when the owner came out, and the two were reunited; happy dog!

The photographer of Grant’s statue

The photographer of Grant’s statue

Shall Celia become famous for her photographs of Grant’s statue?  It’s scarcely likely.  Isn’t it wonderful, though, when a subject of interest identifies itself, and the two of you become acquainted?

Celia imagines the body of her future photographs of Grant and his horse Cincinnati spread out around her, showing them at different times of day, in different seasons, the pictures taken from various vantages, chosen (or not chosen), but in any event each revealing something special about the statue, the time, and the surroundings.

Unlike many of the major sculptures in Chicago’s parks, the Grant equestrian statue is well sited and has been given the prominence that it deserves.  Many beautiful works of sculpture have been less lucky.  Many that once stood out against the landscape have since disappeared behind mature plantings or too tall trees.  Signage impairs the dignity of some, while others are dwarfed by mountains of urban clutter that have grown up behind them.

Despite the hi-rises that you see in this picture, Grant’s statue has largely escaped this fate, thanks to the costly and enormous stone mount on which it sits, and thanks to its location in the park, next to a large pond (not visible in this picture), which has given it the geographical protection that it deserves.

Mosses for meditation

Mosses for Meditation, Chicago Flower and Garden Show, © 2013 Celia Her City

Among the most unusual items in the Garden Show was this panel, displayed on an easel in a wooden frame, entitled “Mosses for Meditation.”  It certainly is arresting, and, when photographed, acquires an additional novelty.  The plant matter becomes abstract, and its scale impossible to determine.

Well, it is certainly very beautiful-looking, but how long will it last?

I believe I would prefer to meditate on the mosses at the base of a tree . . .

Mossy tree, © 2013 Celia Her City

or growing up, star-like, among last season’s leaves . . .

Starry mosses and leaves, © 2013 Celia Her City

or growing in combination with tender spring shoots . . .

Moss and spring leaves, © 2013 Celia Her City

or even growing all over some creepy fungus.

Moss on fungus, © 2013 Celia Her City


Going, © 2013 Celia Her City

A happy second marriage has been one of Fate’s more surprising gifts to me.  After a first marriage that dead-ended in misery, the chance of a re-beginning presented itself in the form of Mr. C.

Each of us is a world within ourselves, which only a few others are given to explore.  Mr. C’s universe extends out around a core of rootedness, with security balancing adventure and opportunity.  Through him, my ken has broadened considerably.  New vistas open out, and, when they do, we go.

Where to begin

On the road: Pennsylvania

Last Tuesday, I voted when the polls opened, then got in the car and drove off alone to Pennsylvania.  My father was pretty sick and might have died, but he pulled through, recovering from a risky emergency operation.

I was glad I could be with my parents.  My sister from Boston came down and was magnificent when More

Neighboring Escape

Neighboring Escape

At the tall building next to ours, someone has decorated the fire-escape landing.  Just one person, finding the bareness and sameness of the iron stairway intolerable, has found it necessary to festoon her small corner with an exuberant melange of fake flowers, bird cages, and all-weather rugs.  Spring, summer, fall, winter: it is the same and blooming in all seasons, a ready conversation piece—or message—for the hundreds of neighbors who see it daily. More

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