My cat walks back from what I feared was the end

It may be the most stressful stage for any pet parent: watching for signs that it’s time to say goodbye. A week ago Friday, Lizzy, my cat, had her worst flare-up ever of inflammatory bowel disease. After scrubbing about a dozen places on the hardwood floors, ceramic tile, and rug, I emailed the Anti-Cruelty Society... Read more »

Chicago Eternal: beautiful photography and a source for Chicago bios

As a Chicago Greeter, I’m always on the lookout for sources of information about the city. My friend Molly recently gave me a newly published one: the coffee-table book Chicago Eternal, featuring graves at 31 Chicago-area cemeteries (32, if you count the Couch mausoleum in Lincoln Park). Assuming that most of the people important in... Read more »

Raising my voice against loudness

I saw Jesus Christ Superstar at Lyric Opera last week, just days before it closed Sunday. Reading critics’ overwhelmingly glowing reviews after, I was surprised that only a couple of them mentioned what I thought the production’s flaw: it was too loud. The music drowned out the lyrics. On Chicagoland Theater Reviews Dan Zeff mentioned... Read more »
ChicagoNow Video

Can Melania’s Be Best initiative be taken seriously?

There’s a part of me that feels sorry for Melania Trump. Just a little. It’s clear that she feels uncomfortable in the role of First Lady. She accepted the role of wife of a fat cat, but no one thought then that the fat cat would run for president. I even feel somewhat sympathetic to... Read more »

The Great American Read and other book lists

For a reader and lover of lists, the Great American Read is a double delight. The upcoming eight-part PBS series will feature the 100 novels apparently most loved by Americans. It premieres May 22 on WTTW. The list is already online at, where you can take a quiz to see how many of the... Read more »

Routines: good or bad? It depends.

My favorite daily routine since I retired begins a few minutes after waking up. I eat breakfast, make a pot of tea, and settle into my reading chair with the Chicago Tribune. Lizzy, my cat, usually climbs into my lap. The next hour, give or take, is splendid. The routine was disrupted a week ago... Read more »

When Trump makes us nostalgic for past presidents

I was no fan of either of the Bush presidents. But while watching a bit of Barbara Bush’s funeral, I found myself wishing they were back in the seat of government. That is how far afield Donald Trump has taken a progressive Democrat. I have to remind myself about style versus substance. It’s dignity I’m... Read more »

Telling people what they don’t want to hear

My niece Ashley recently made her college choice after a long, uncertain process. She’s going to Miami of Ohio, a public university about 45 minutes northwest of Cincinnati and two hours from her suburban Indianapolis home. I first learned about Miami when Ashley’s sister was looking at colleges and liked it immediately. One of the... Read more »

Hoping for better luck next year with DIY tax preparation

It was going on late afternoon, and I was still in my pajamas. Not that I’d been lazy — on the contrary, I’d been very occupied. I was filling out the 1040 using software from the IRS website. And everything had gone badly. “Let Free File do the hard work for you” the IRS site says. Indeed,... Read more »

I never joined Facebook

Unlike the estimated 58 percent of American adults with an account, I never joined Facebook. I can’t claim, however, to have expected that users’ data would be misappropriated. I just didn’t want to bother. Some friends urged me to join so that we could stay up on one another’s lives. One said flat out that... Read more »