Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit, Trump and All That



Vlad and I are in shock.  That Britain should have opted to turn the clock back and leave the EU was unimaginable.  The tiny margin between the 'leave' and the 'stay' votes speaks about a country strongly divided.  The situation in GB in fact, mirrors what is taking place in the US with the nostalgia for days past when people felt that they had a secure place in a country that resembled them.

What saddens me is that 74% of people under 24 years old voted to stay in the EU on Thursday night. Does the future not belong to them?

I don't like what is going on in the world most of the time.  What is taking place now feels close to home and completely unrealistic.  When has wanting to go back to the way things were in the past ever possible or thinkable?

In a time of globalisation how is it possible to think about becoming more insular? And how is it possible to think that exclusion is a step forward?




Friday, June 10, 2016

Post Chicago Thoughts

Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park

Hemmingway's birthplace also in Oak Park

Tristan's kitchen and my favorite place to sit

Architectural River Tour
Chicago surprised me.  Not with it’s densely hi-rise populated-downtown area, not with it’s numerous sculptures, not with its free zoo and gob-smacking Lakeshore Drive, no, not with these, although they are reason enough to be impressed.  I was impressed with the Chicago that is outside of the loop, to the west and to the south of the downtown area.

First, let me say that during the week that Vlad and I were in the windy city (not windy because of it’s Aeolian power, but for the wind emanating out of its’ politician’s mouths), we did not meet a single surly, sour, or cranky person.  From the personnel at the grocery markets to the Uber drivers to the neighbors living on our son’s street, we did not encounter a single solitary *ss h***.  Well, that’s not quite right. The manager at the Olive Garden where I forgot my iPad and had it subsequently stolen, didn’t even offer me a conciliatory coffee for my pain and suffering… but that’s another story. We were charmed and warmed by Chicagoans' friendliness and willingness to engage with a couple of middle-aged Canadians on a mission to settle our boy into his apartment before his Step 3 exam and the beginning of a three-year residency program at one of Chicago’s many, many hospitals.

The Chicagoans we met during our seven-day stay were authentic, kind, friendly and willing to help out in any way that we asked, be it for directions, advice on the best way to get to work, to the best place to get a delicious and economical bite to eat. We were enveloped in a warm hug of human kindness. Who would have known that this sprawling, diverse, crime-ridden city would offer up the degree of solicitousness that we encountered wherever we went?  And we went to a LOT of places…

We must have put on several hundred kilometres getting the apartment hooked up with gas, electricity, Internet, insurance, furniture and groceries. Every time we needed help, we were obliged with a friendly face, a smile and reassurance that not all big, sprawling heterogeneous cities are an unsafe place to be.

We discovered Uber, the cheapest, best way to get to downtown, the best Mexican food to be had north of the Mexican border, movie theatres with Lazy Boy-type easy chairs and neighborhood connectedness the likes of which we do not experience at home.  The people in Tristan’s neighborhood wanted to know him and were quick to include him in their daily looking-out-for type of concern.  They were congratulatory, encouraging and immediately offered the best way to…(insert just about anything here).

Thank you Chicago, for welcoming our boy into your hearts and into your community. Thank you for making us feel at home, making us feel welcome and for making us instantly feel like we are a part of your ‘hood’.


We look forward to coming back and discover more of what you have to offer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Chicago

We, Vlad and Tristan and I, are leaving for Chicago soon.  We have to settle T. into his apartment as his residency starts on July 1st.

I don't know how much time we will have to play tourist but here is a wish list of sorts for our short time there:

Architectural Boat Tour via 
Because I love boats and I love beauty sprinkled with a little history.
Millenium Park via
Because apparently, you just don't visit Chicago without taking a picture of yourself taking a picture of 'The Bean' or the Cloud Gate sculpture.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio via

Because I read 'Loving Frank' by Nancy Horan many years ago and I've been curious about him since.  When I visited Phoenix in 2011, I saw his Talliesin West and was enchanted. Talliesin East just north and west of Chicago will go on my to-do list for my next visit to Chicago.


The Art Institute of Chicago via
Because I love seeing world famous art and this museum has a lion's share of it and because I read a biography of Georgia O'Keefe several years ago and they have several of her paintings. Not to mention a huge selection of Impressionist work, the iconic American Gothic and Van Gogh's The Bedroom featured in a biography called: The Yellow House by Martin Gayford. 

Then there will be the walks, the grocery shopping, the wine and beer purchasing, restaurant lunches and mundane activities like getting the Internet and electricity hooked up... Should be interesting.