Check out these nontouristy local gems

About one-half of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated, and we’re satisfying our pent-up desire to get out and explore. If, like me, your 2021 excursions will be close to home, you may be looking for local attractions you haven’t visited and ones less crowded. I particularly like to check out nontouristy places that teach a Chicago... Read more »

How much space do you need?

For those of us who live in small apartments or condos, our homes added to the challenges of the pandemic. We lacked a variety of rooms to offer a change of scene during isolation. Now that I’m going out again, I no longer feel cooped up in my 3½ rooms. But the experience of confinement... Read more »

Ambivalence might be the desired stance

As I was lamenting the departure of the Chicago Tribune columnists who took Tribune owner Alden Global Capital’s buyout offer, my favorite New York Times columnist published his last column. Frank Bruni’s June 20 piece was a gem. Reflecting on 10 years as a columnist, Bruni wondered whether the dogmatism of political commentators had contributed... Read more »
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Growing up with ComEd

With the recent announcement that coal-fired power plants in Waukegan and Romeoville would be shut down in 2022, only four Illinois plants that burn coal to generate electricity remain without closing dates. Gov. J. B. Pritzker is bent on phasing out all coal-generated plants by 2035. Good riddance, of course. Coal pollution damages lungs and... Read more »

What vegetarians eat needn’t be mystifying

I heard a woman say that she was a vegetarian until her husband got tired of eating salads every day. “I could, but he couldn’t,” she commented.  Assuming she meant salads as a main dish, I was surprised. Did she not know about options, from meatless variations of popular dishes to fake meats? Did she... Read more »

Book group takes on a GAN

You’ve probably heard of the Great American Novel. (Yes, it’s capitalized, and some people even use the acronym GAN.) With my turn coming up to suggest a few novels for our book group to choose from, I looked at books that have been thought worthy of the title.  From visiting a half-dozen websites, I learned... Read more »
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Differences about what we’ll do now

My friends and I agreed about those who weren’t treating COVID as a serious health threat. But now that we’re vaccinated, we diverge about reentering seminormal life. The differences have made me feel defensive on occasion.  Did I detect a self-satisfied tone when two vaccinated friends said that they intend to keep their masks on... Read more »

Recalling a disappointing meeting with an icon

If you listen to WBEZ, you know that National Public Radio celebrated its 50th anniversary this month. The names Susan Stamberg and Bob Edwards are familiar to those who go back to the beginning with public radio. They were cohosts of NPR’s flagship daily news show All Things Considered until Edwards moved to its morning... Read more »

Visit an unfamiliar museum and pretend you’re traveling

Favorites like the Impressionist paintings at the Art Institute and everything at the Chicago History Museum are always a pleasure to revisit, but as the new normal loomed, seeing unfamiliar museums allowed me to indulge the pretense of traveling. 21c Hotel Museum I had never heard of the 21c Hotel Museum until my friend JoAnn... Read more »
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Resumed activities fall short: bad luck or a bad omen?

During the pandemic, my friend Sandie and I have played Scrabble online twice a week, double the amount we used to play in person, and my book group has met via Zoom. The activity that I missed is Chicago Greeter, where I’d logged almost 1,000 hours giving tours to out-of-towners. Chicago Greeter resumed operation in... Read more »