Friends, readers, fellow home bound Chicagoans, and our readers around the world, has not the world become a very strange place over these last few months? Here in Chicago, the death toll continues to rise. The kids are inside for so many hours everyday, despite the warmer weather. Of course, in true Chicago style, the weather doesn’t really cooperate, does it?
Wednesday is a good day, mid-week, to hang out with the kids and teens for a while. So today, June 10th, Take a short lunch break from your work-at-home station, hook an internet connected computer to your TV (If necessary; I know many of you will already have your smart TVs connected and running.) and take a virtual tour or two of the Museum of Science and Industry. Here are two short tours, neither made by MSI directly, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G_7pD_qkHU, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRjfTuekA-k. The first is a general guide to the whole museum, while the second takes you through the model railroad exhibit, complete with it’s scale model of downtown Chicago. Neither takes more than half an hour, so you can get right back to your schedule. I’ve learned from both of these, in spite of the fact that I visit this place several times each year. It’s fun.
By now, we’re all hoping, a few things will have returned to normal. But there are no guarantees, especially considering the many blatant violations of the quarantine have occurred in Chicago. With that in mind, I’m guessing that Mayor Lightfoot will be forced to keep the city locked down for quite a while longer than the rest of the state.
But today, Saturday, June 13th, let’s take a deep breath, pack a picnic basket, contact a very small group of family members or friends, and find a place where the Stage 2 level is in place and we can, the eight or ten of us, gather together and actually talk in person, trade some home-made food from our symptom-free kitchens, knock back a single beer, and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Doesn’t that sound FANTASTIC? Even though we’re still keeping our distance and probably still wearing masks, this is great. This will take some research, but I’m sure we can manage. State Parks will likely be open, especially away from the city, so let’s start by calling a few and see where that leads us. We’re already excited!
By today, Sunday, June 14rd, the kids are getting, once again, a bit restless, aren’t they? Here’s a little something to help keep them occupied for an afternoon: Marshmallow Catapults. You heard me. The people at Mommy Poppins, www.mommypoppins.com, have a wide variety of fun activities that allow parents to engage with their kids in fun projects that have a lot of hands-on learning. That’s cool, but hey, I want my own marshmallow catapult and, yes, I have plans: let’s see who can position it to pop a marshmallow right into the waiting mouth of your significant other. Five shots each to see who wins!
Today, Wednesday, June 17th, let’s help the kids keep things interesting by heading back to the always fascinating Museum of Science and Industry. Their “Science-at-Home” web pages will provide complete instructions and lists of materials to: Build your own weather station. Complete with a barometer, anemometer, rain gauge, and you can add your own thermometer. I haven’t had a home weather station in years, so, yes, I’m building one of these for the house. I might even keep records and compare my measurements with the National Weather Service, and my predictions against those of Tom Skilling, WGN’s master weatherman.
Today, Friday, June 19th, let’s get kids of all ages together and make our very own oobleck. Remember “oobleck”? Dr. Seuss introduced us to it in his classic book, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”, wherein weird sticky stuff falls from the sky. Well, we don’t have to wait for it to fall from the sky, we can make our own, out of cornstarch and water. And if we happen to have an old stereo speaker lying around we can make it dance! The nice people at http://www.housingaforest.com/dancing-oobleck/ will not only show us how it’s done, they have a video showing it in action and a number of great photos to go with it. Have fun! But be careful, because food coloring can be hard to wash off.
If you want a different variation, try this recipe, it even glows under a black light, https://youtu.be/_0J4dRqg7CE?list=PLbDYIZ0o1HPJScdEdZ-39n6Am4HyJnmve.
Today, Sunday, June 21st, is Father’s Day, of course. It’s time to reach out to that guy who taught you to play catch and change a flat car tire, among his many other achievements. If we’re still in Stage One and dad lives in the city, give him a call and tell him to relax, you’ve got this. Then surprise him with an gift of all the weird photos you’ve taken during the quarantine and door step delivery from his favorite pizza place. Gentlemen, if your father has passed on, as mine has, take time to remember him, tell some funny, interesting stories to your kids or significant other. Listen to her stories about her father, and get those shared with the whole family.
Then get some yard work done, check on the vegetable garden, make something fresh for dinner, and enjoy the evening. If the golf course is open, I’m sure you’ve already gotten in your 18 holes, right?
Did you know that https://code.org offers free coding tutorials online? These are a great way for anyone (not just quarantined school students) to learn the basics of computer coding and programming. Get started today, Wednesday, June 24th, at noon, Chicago time, or go online to https://code.org/athome for a list of available one hour tutorials. Why not start now?
Today, Saturday, June 27th, if we can go in person, let’s head over to one of our favorite places, the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago. If we can’t, let’s take the virtual tours, shall we? A quick click to https://garfieldconservatory.org/resource-center/digital-tours/ will take us on the three virtual tours of this living, thriving, beautiful place where all the colors of the world’s plant life are on display. We’ll take the Golden Hour Tour first, starting with the amazing array of greens to be seen in the Fern Room. (Did you know that the human eye can perceive more shades of green than of any other color?) Don’t we always learn some fascinating bits about plants and flowers while visiting here? The little dark spots on the underside of fern leaves are actually spores, as ferns don’t have flowers or develop seeds. I never knew that until just now.
We’ll walk in turn through Sugar in the Sun to watch bananas and mangoes ripen and turn yellow to signal that they are ready to eat, and the Show Room to see the variety of reds and oranges, blues and purples that all these different flowers display to attract pollinators. Amazing, it’s always amazing.
In the Desert House, be sure not to touch anything! These plants have survived the millennia in vary harsh environments be evolving sharp defenses. Some can even throw their spines at you if you get too close! Some of these plants look blue too, but not just their flowers, the whole plant! These different colors help protect desert cacti and succulents from getting too much sun. Wow, it’s just too much to take in all at once, so naturally we’ll be back.
Afterward, whether we can eat in or are still only allowed take-out, let’s head to our local Lou Malnati’s, https://www.loumalnatis.com/, for a big pizza. I mean BIG. Make mine a deep-dish, with almost everything: onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and sausage. Mmm, mmm, mmm, I can taste it already.
Do you believe it? We’ve actually made it through another month of adventures, both in person and online. As we oh-so-slowly return to a life where we can actually take off the masks and gloves (at least most of the time) there will be ever more adventures awaiting. So until next month, dear friends and readers, let your adventures continue.