Every once in a while it's nice to wake up to a Chicago-kinda day. You know, everything is grey and overcast…and you know you're in for a long period of rain.
These rainy days are rare in New Mexico but quite common in Chicago. One needs to remember that this kind of rain is good for plants and for washing dust out of the atmosphere. It's this kind of rainy day that accounts for the huge oaks and maples that line the streets in the concrete jungle. And so once in a while it's good to celebrate a Chicago-kinda day here in Albuquerque.
This isn't a day you'd necessarily want to go out birding or hiking. But there's lots of things to do. Albuquerque has some museums and art galleries, and if you are careful to walk between the rain drops, it's even a decent day to visit Old Town.
But it's also a day when baking, crocheting and board games take on new meaning.
This time of year here in Chicago, we take beauty wherever we can find it. Two days ago it was absolutely beautiful so I decided to treat myself to a rare visit to our local forest preserve. Admittedly this is a very rare treat with the cost of gas being prohibitive.It was a bright sunny day…one of the few gorgeous Midwestern late-autumn days of 2011.(That's right Winter doesn't actually arrive until December 22). I needed a reminder that Chicago-land is not all concrete and glass. In this part of the country, the weather can be somewhat fickle and you want to enjoy it when you can. I spent a simply awesome afternoon enjoying one of the finest fall days of the season.Come with me…
But don't be fooled. Winter is coming.Today, December 3rd, we have what I've come to call a Chicago-kinda-day…It's a balmy 47 degrees, gray and rainy. Not the kind of day you particularly want to be out and about. But I braved the weather anyway. This time, I decided to stay closer to home…and went just 3 blocks…when what to my wondering eyes did appear an entirely different scene …it's actually beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Oak Park has put on a magnificent display this year.
The shopping district near Lake and Harlem this year is ready for the Christmas season with delightful displays of Gingerbread Men lining both sides of the street. Although winter is still 19 days away, Oak Park is certainly ready and local shoppers are reminded that Christmas is just around the corner. The snow on those trees is artificial but it's just a matter of time before those whimsical displays are covered with the real stuff.
There's considerable discussion about what the weather will bring our way this year. We remember very well last year's blizzard that dumped as much as 20" on us. Farmers Almanac suggests that we may well have a fairly mild winter this year. I hope so. (Sorry guys, I don't share your enthusiasm for Midwestern winters.) Be that as it may. Whatever comes our way, I encourage you to take advantage of any opportunities to enjoy the best of the season. It's the best way for city-slickers living in condominiums to avoid cabin fever.
Blogging is a two way conversation – even though it often doesn't feel like it. I've been getting some very nice comments and feeling like perhaps I'm making headway in developing a style and content that has value to you – my reader.
I'm not setting the world afire with my incomparable wisdom and wit. But that's ok, I'm not really trying to do that. Some have asked me how often I update this blog. Honestly, I don't have a routine schedule…I normally try to write something at least once or twice a week….sometimes more, sometimes less. It depends on all sorts of factors in my life right now that are unpredictable.
Others have asked where I get my information. That's a bit more challenging to answer. I've been on this planet for more than 65 years now – seen a few things, been taught a few things, had some successes and made a lot of mistakes, too. I read a lot and pay a great deal of attention to life around me. I've been criticized for being too laid back for my own good. My experiences as a writer working for businesses, newspapers, schools, and others has taught me a great deal about how communications and the media work. And, the Internet has opened many doors to understanding beyond my wildest dreams.
Being a student of philosophy I find myself accepting guidance from such as Rene Descartes who said "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am.) Beyond that I take joy in the ability that technology has given us so I talk about whatever I'm thinking in the current. time. I figure I'm not the only person who sees things like I do….But, I'm also not hell bent on convincing anyone that I'm right and they're wrong, either. I welcome the opinions of others who may have different views than I do. And that is primarily where I get my ideas…from others who share their visions and wisdom with me.
There are serious challenges with the internet in general and with blogging specifically when it comes to trying to use these tools to their maximum potential Those challenges fall heavily into areas of relevancy, accuracy and effectiveness. .:
I am conscious, therefore, of the importance of maintaining dates on everything in this blog. And, I deliberately seek out the dates on all websites and internet posts. Some believe they should not use dates…They think it gives the appearance of fresh content with less work. .But I believe following this practice we water down the value of the materials we're sharing with each other. I'm highly suspect of anyone who does not think that's important. I don't suggest that we just delete everything that's old. Sometimes that information is critical to our understanding of what''s current and new. But, I do maintain that all information needs to be put into context – that's a whole lot more important than just putting it into sterile databases Even "evergreen" materials need to be reviewed from time to time.
Selection of content is very important. This blog is aimed at being relevant to others who are much like me – normal people living and working in a rapidly changing world. The topics range from topics that I think will appeal to writers (and would-be writers), people who live in condos in big cities like Chicago as well as those who prefer the wide open spaces like you'd find in Colorado and New Mexico. I talk to those who like to work with their hands, do crafts, garden, play music. Occasionally I'll get off on a tangent and rant about injustices and what I perceive as foolishness in our current political and economic society. You're not normally likely to find out what I had for breakfast or other trivia in my life unless I think it can be useful to my readers.
I get a huge number of comments. That would seem to be impressive, but I have become more and more meticulous about what I accept and am willing to post on this blog. It's not that I don't value feedback. I love it. But too many comments are shrouded by dummy emails and websites that simply can't be traced. I check out websites and email addresses on all comments. And, I frequently try to respond directly to anyone who takes the time to comment. But if the domain and the email fail or if they lead to places on the internet that don't even remotely contribute to the conversation, then I am not willing to share them with my readers…no matter how wonderful they might appear on the surface. I'm getting a whole lot more selective as time goes on – just a word of warning.
Technology and sources of information come and go so fast that we really have difficulty keeping up. It's still much too easy to get stuck sometime in the past with a lot of useless baggage trailing along with us. Some have just given up trying to stay up with changes. I believe that change can be a good thing, and I do try to keep up – but admittedly, I do fall behind from time to time. Broken links, resource pages that have been pulled down for one reason or another need to be cleaned up from time to time. If you find things like this, I appreciate your telling me.
That said, I welcome you and encourage your serious feedback. We're very, very fortunate to be living in a time and place where have tools that make it possible for us to become friends and share ideas and dreams with each other, growing together in spite of how many miles apart we might be.
Chicago ILComments Off on Chicago Heat Is Rough on Pigeons and Man Alike
I love summer but this summer has been ghastly.
It reminds me of the year I lived in Phoenix and the air conditioner on the roof of our house leaked causing the roof to cave in. It was an unbelievable week. My young un's were about 6 and 8 years old. We spent many hours in the local shopping malls and in the library trying to keep cool those hot summer days.
That cured me somewhat…hot is good, too hot is unbearable.
This summer Chicago – like most of the country – has been hammered. With temperatures in the 90s interspersed with excessive humidity brought on by summer storms, there's been precious little relief.
Sadly the plants and animals are having a very hard time of it here. My daughter and I caught these photos of pigeons while out shopping this afternoon taking advantage of the shade offered by a small tree in the middle of the parking lot….
and under nearby parked cars:
Many illustrious persons like the Queen of England, Pablo Picasso, Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers and many other famous people have had a soft spot in their hearts for pigeons. These birds have lived alongside humans for thousands of years and they've played a significant part in our history.They were used to carry critical information for Reuters and and for Wall Street; and, they carried critical information during the wars.
But, generally speaking pigeons are not the most beloved of our wildlife – at least in crowded cities like Chicago.. But, remember, their natural habitat is cliffs along shore lines and their natural enemies are peregrine falcons – there aren't many of those in Chicago to help keep these birds in check.. And so, now that in this city man plays that role. Pigeons are considered dirty birds and they rival rats and other pests that plague or city. So, if you feed pigeons, you risk being fined $500 in Chicago.
Whether you like pigeons or not, is not the point. It's been a rough summer for all of us, this year.
Take a tip from the pigeons. Stay in the shade – especially in the height of the afternoon. And, don't forget to drink plenty of water.If you should find yourself without a fan or air conditioner in your home visit the shopping malls and libraries and other people-friendly cooling centers.
Remember the snow storms of this past winter and be assured that another bitter winter will be here before you know it – and then you'll be dreaming of Chicago's "lazy, hazy days of summer".