September in Chicago
Your Chicago Correspondent
Well, hello again, friends, do you believe it’s September already? The days and months just seem to fly by, all by themselves, so we need to live every day with enthusiasm and flair.
Let’s start this month today, Saturday, September 10th. Feel free to sleep in late but be sure to arrive both hungry and thirsty. We’ll start at 11:00am at Gene’s, http://www.genessausage.com, 4750 N. Lincoln Ave., in Lincoln Square for brunch in the “Rooftop Garden”. Here we can start our day with selections from Gene’s menu of German, Polish and European foods filled with sausages and other treats made in-house. Pierogi, anyone? The coffee is as good as the food, isn’t it? Taking in some sunshine, relaxing, chatting a while with all our friends, what could be better?
Well, let’s take this a bit further, shall we, now that it’s afternoon and we’re still thirsty. The Ravenswood Artwalk is today, just a few blocks away along “Malt Row”, a modest stretch of Ravenswood Ave. between Lawrence Ave. and Irving Park Rd. that has a number of micro-breweries along it. So we’ll walk, take in local art, tour a few breweries, sample their wares, and perhaps buy some small piece or two from local artists. Begyle Brewing is right here with a few offerings that I like. The European style beers and lagers from Dovetail – here, taste this one! – are delicious, right? Here’s Koval, Chicago’s oldest post-prohibition distillery; they make great stuff. You must taste the cranberry gin liqueur – it and the bourbon are my favorites. There are galleries, studios, live music, and a surprisingly large range of dance and other activities to see and even join in. Yes, this is great. All this walking and moving and dancing are wonderful, but now I’m hungry again. Let’s line up at a food truck and have a snack or two before we walk back to the car, OK?
This morning, Sunday, September 11th, join us please when we go north along the lake to the Ba’hai Temple, https://www.bahai.us/, 100 Linden Ave., Wilmette, at the corner with Sheridan Rd. We can walk the lovely grounds and gardens that surround the temple before we go inside. The Welcome Center is the place to start, so step inside, where we’ll get some literature that tells us the story of this very recent religion (the founder, Baha’u’llah, died in 1892, and the Ba’hai faith only began in America in 1894). This is a very peaceful, inclusive religion, despite the persecution and prejudice its followers have experienced. All are welcome, and when inside this place I always find it easy to take a deep breath, calm down, and experience the sacredness that surrounds us always, but that gets so easily neglected in our daily hustle and rush. According to Ba’hai writings, this and the other seven Ba’hai temples around the world are each built to be “…. a haven for the deepest contemplation on spiritual reality and foundational questions of life.”
The temple itself is an architectural marvel, so perfectly symmetrical, beautifully white, both inside and out, constructed to let amazing amounts of light into the worship spaces. I love this place, don’t you? We should come back more often. See you next week.
This weekend our adventures will be of a totally different sort, starting today, Friday, September 16th, at the Chicago House Music Festival, in Millennium Park. House Music originated in Chicago, and tonight we’ll experience one of the original star groups from the late 1980s and early ’90s, Ten City. House is back on the rise, and Ten City is back in the game; their first new album in 27 years, “Judgement” recently earned a Grammy Award. I like these guys, so let’s go grab spots and get ready. Expect to get into the music and be on your feet, jumping and dancing around, during their entire set.
Yeah, I knew you’d get into it. Isn’t this something to be enjoyed and upheld?
After all the excitement last night, let’s have a long, casual adventure today, Saturday, September 17th. with a trip to M&D Farms And Garden Center, 14946 S. Bell Rd., Homer Glen, https://www.manddfarmandgardencenter.com, where we can spend time picking giant sunflowers (and other flowers) to help ease our way towards autumn. Be sure to bring a large, deep can or bucket to hold your beautiful bouquet. We’ll leave after breakfast, about 9:00am, and should arrive well before 11:00am. The sunflower field closes promptly at 4:30, and the Garden Center closes at 5:00pm, so there’s lots of time to walk the fields and pick out a pretty bunch that will bring a burst of spectacular color to the kitchen. That’s something to really appreciate now, at the end of summer; a spray of sunflowers, glowing yellow and bouncing light off the walls and ceiling. This is fun, thank you for coming along.
Today, Friday, September 23rd, while you are at work, take a few moments to reserve tickets for this evening at the Museum of Illusions, 25 E. Washington St., right downtown. This will be something that is completely different from our past adventures, won’t it? It’s sure to be, as they tell us, “an intriguing visual, sensory and educational experience with illusions ranging from tried and true classics to the never-before seen!” Illusions intrigue us all with the ways they challenge us to see the impossible, to view reality from different perspectives, and make the finite seem so infinite. The museum hosts “more than 80 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind.”
I don’t know about you, but my mind is boggled. This is so, so delightfully good at altering perception and making my brain work quite hard at trying to figure out – how did they do that? I can’t stop giggling and gasping in amazement! What fun, thank you.
Today, Saturday, September 24th, we’ve made arrangements to tour Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, 5472 South Kimbark Avenue, in Hyde Park, Chicago. The building is an architectural wonder as well as a thriving place of worship, so let’s go visit.
The parish was founded back in 1869, before the Columbian Exposition or the founding of the University of Chicago. Now located on the U of C campus, the church houses “magnificent devotional artwork including the bronze bas relief ‘Stations of the Cross‘ and ‘Pietà‘ in art moderne by Alfeo Faggi and original stained glass windows designed by Valentine d’Ogries. The present church was designed by the renowned architect Francis Barry Byrne, and has been called “the first modern American church” since it does not simply repeat German or Italian church designs, as almost every previous American church had done.
Before we go in, let’s take more than a few long looks at the magnificent exterior façade. These terra cotta adornments are by Alfonso Iannelli with finials by Edgar Miller. St. Thomas church and convent were listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1978. Let’s go in, shall we? Our guide is waiting patiently.
Look around, do you notice the differences? It’s not built with a cruciform floor plan, the stained glass windows tower 25 feet high, and there’s not a single pillar or other freestanding support of a ceiling that reaches 125 feet across. That’s both beautiful and amazing. Many of these original works of devotional art are catalogued in the Smithsonian Institute. From the statue of St. Thomas in front of the main West doors to the magnificent oil paintings by William E. Schumacher hanging in the rear of the nave, to Milton Horn’s, “Jacob’s Struggle” in the Baptistery, all of these are not only religious treasures, they are magnificent works of art. Let’s be sure to take a couple of the brochures that describe all this beautiful and elegant artwork. They’re right here on the welcome table in the narthex. This has been fun, and quite different, yes?
After work, today, Friday, September 30th, we hope you’ll join us for dinner in Humbolt Park at Segnatore, 1001 N. California Ave., https://www.segnatore.com, where we will indulge in surprising and unexpectedly different, contemporary Italian fare. The bread and pasta are all made in house, such as the Cappellini served with black kale pesto, smoked walnuts and blue cheese. Yes, that’s what I’m having, you’re selecting the Gramigne? The dry vermouth cream sauce sounds delightful. Blueberry tiramisu for dessert?
Now it’s time to just walk across the street to California Clipper, https://www.californiaclipper.com, a great Chicago tavern that closed during the Covid-19 shutdown, but has re-opened and has live music or comedy most nights. Let’s grab a booth, get comfortable and see what’s happening, shall we? Isn’t this a classic place, with its row of booths, some small tables and very retro-looking stools at the bar? Let’s toast to friendship, take in just one set of music and head home. Drive safely, please.
It is now October and we’re not finished yet. Today, Sunday, October 2nd, will be a totally different kind of adventure. We have reservations at the Midwest Buddhist Temple, https://mbtchicago.org, 435 W. Menominee St., where we’ll be attending a Zen-Shin meditation session. Zen-Shin combines Shin Buddhism’s awareness of Oneness with the discipline of Zen practices. Zen-Shin combines sitting and walking meditation, chanting and the offering of a Dharma talk.
Once again, friends and readers, we’ve had a month’s worth of outings and adventures; we’ve encountered different cultures and religious practices, while spending time together indoors and outdoors. We’ll do it again next month. In the meantime, adventure onward!