Category: Living downtown

Reluctantly, I’m giving up on overwintering tender perennials indoors

By September the sweet potato vines had spilled a foot or two down the sides of the railing planters on my balcony, creating a dense cascade of lime green leaves.  The plants were flourishing too well to let die when cold arrived. Of course I had to bring them inside to overwinter.  “If you have... Read more »

In containers, creeping charlie is not a weed

In containers, creeping charlie is not a weed
“My definition of a weed,” the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Tim Johnson wrote in his Chicago Tribune gardening column, “is a plant that is growing where it is not wanted.” I had started to compose a post that began the same way: The best definition of a weed is anything that grows where you don’t want... Read more »

Help the homeless through these charities

I was walking in River North early Sunday morning when a man who looked to be 30something approached to ask where to get the South Shore train. After I gave him the bad news that he was about a mile away, he said, “Thanks for talking to me. You’re the first person who did. People... Read more »

Planning cold-weather protection for potted plants

Last year I groused about not succeeding with container gardening on a high-rise balcony. (“Sure is hard to garden up high in shade and wind.”) The annuals — coleus and impatiens mostly — didn’t grow or outright died in the railing planters. In the balcony floor planters, the perennials looked more promising, provided they survived the winter.... Read more »

Making friends in a new location

My niece is a freshman at Indiana University, and like most freshmen, Alex wants to make new friends. While many people from her hometown chose IU, none of her best friends did — and besides, she wants to branch out. Alex said she’s met a lot of nice people, people she has gone out with,... Read more »

Bliss on the balcony

As I walk around my neighborhood looking at all the high-rises, it surprises me how few people are out on their balconies, even on beautiful weekends. The balconies look like places for grills, not for humans. My balcony is my sanctuary. It’s not exaggerating to say that a little more than 60 square feet of... Read more »

The risky business of walking

I fear it’s only a matter of time before I’m in a traffic accident. As a pedestrian. Since reading recently about a rise in pedestrian fatalities locally and nationally, I’ve been noticing hazards more when I step outside in downtown Chicago. At intersections, especially those with left-turn arrows for drivers, assuming a walk sign means... Read more »

Shopping for athleisure shoes

My main exercise is walking, and these days the walk is often back and forth between home and the Loop or the Near North Side. Even though I count those walks as aerobic exercise, the activities they take me to call for something nicer than shorts, T-shirt, and lace-up athletic shoes. The sandals and thin-soled... Read more »

City life needs to be balanced with retreats to nature

Returning home Sunday from kayaking with friends about an hour and a half south of Chicago, I thought about needing to get out to nature more. In warm weather I go outside at every opportunity, but a stroll through Grant Park or along the lakefront, as nice as that can be, isn’t what I meant.... Read more »

Who should give up train and bus seats?

Just after 9 on a weekday morning, I stepped onto a southbound Red Line train at Belmont. No seats were available, so I stood, staring at the seated 20- and 30-somethings who were staring at their phones. I was feeling somewhat miffed that none of them thought, “Here’s a woman at least three decades older... Read more »