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Windshield Thinking

I'm Windshield Thinking

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See you en route!


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Magic T.P. & The Great Tree

It’s time again for the “Great Tree” in “The Walnut Room” at the former Marshall Field’s on State Street.

It’s thirty years ago that a princess with a sparkling tiara in her wavy, golden hair sits in front of the tree.  You wait in line forever to answer her question: “what’s your wish?” You whisper it and she tells you “close your eyes.”  She sprinkles magic fairy dust above your head.  Like a feather brushing your cheek, a light stroke of her wand calls you back.  You look up at her, then waaaay up at the tree, knowing your wish will come true. You smile hard before filing to the right, ready to indulge in Christmas desserts.

The Great Tree, 2009

It’s six years ago, on Christmas Eve in Phoenix, that I’m missing Chicago and reminiscing about childhood traditions as my husband and are I driving to our new home that’s under construction.

We stop for gas en route and I’m just a bit emotional.  Between the new home, new life , the holidays…I get myself all choked up.  My husand fills the tank, pops into the gas station and comes out with the usual Mountain Dew.  But when he gets back into the car,  he turns to me and says: “make a wish.”

“Haha,” I say.

But he insists and instructs me, “and close your eyes.”  So, I do.  I make a wish and close my eyes.  A moment later, something brushes against my face.  I open my eyes to huge white flakes falling down around me, his hand still sprinkling over my head.  I adjust my expression into “what’s this?” and a grinch-heart answer comes my way: ”It’s shredded toilet paper,” he announces, kind of chuckling, “they’re all out of regular fairy dust but the guy inside swears it works just the same.”  Then, he hands me a package of Hostess Snoballs.

He was giving me a hard time of course, but also, he did get me back to that tree.  (I could see the love inside that grinch-heart!)  I think I was protecting my over-sentimental heart by being, at first, reluctant to make a wish.  But then, I did it.  I like thinking that there is still that kid who believes in magic (even if just a little bit) in me, in all of us.

So I say: “Bring on the ‘magic toilet paper fairy dust.’  Hey, whatever it takes.  I’d rather believe and be disappointed, because not believing is disappointment in itself.”

Happy Holidays!  Shred the Charmin and make a wish!

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90 Chicago Minutes

One of my favorite places to begin a day of shopping on State Street is at Atwood Cafe.  (Yes, a restaurant,  because all great shopping trips begin with great eating!)

The Atwood Cafe

The Atwood Cafe

The Atwood is in the Hotel Burnham on the southwest corner of State and Washington.  It was five ’til noon when we popped in looking for a table for two.  “An hour-and-a-half wait,” we were told.  A city “hour-and-a-half” goes by much faster than any other that I know, so we signed up, and off we went to work up our appetites further.  We think about popping into Macy’s but it’s such a fine day, we decided head east, to Millenium Park.

Walking toward Millenium Park

Pritzker's Pavilion ahead in Millenium Park

The Cloud Gate Sculpture, also known as "The Bean"

Very cool little trees with only red berries left

"The Bean"

Trees, Millenium Park

Day after Thanksgiving, Millenium Park

Not sure what my iPhone camera did to this one but I kind of like it:

The Wait to Skate

The Wait to Skate

Here’s a more “normal” view:

After Millenium Park we were getting a bit chilled so we popped into the first building across Michigan Avenue: The Chicago Cultural Center. (Originally was the first central Public Library in Chicago, founded in 1897.)

I could shower you with photos from the inside of this building.  It not only has incredible architecture, art exhibits, a cafe and cozy reading nooks,  but it’s also so festively decorated!

Here are just a few from my favorite room, Preston Bradley Hall.


The room houses the largest Tiffany Dome and it’s truly staggering.  When photographing it, you feel though you’ve stepped into a life-size kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope Effect of Tiffany Dome

Kaleidoscope Effect of the Dome

According to the website:

Approximately 38 feet in diameter, the Tiffany dome spans more than 1,000 square feet. It contains approximately 30,000 pieces of glass in 243 sections within an ornate cast iron frame.


Tiffany Dome

I overheard a fellow-Chicagoan giving a tour to his family “there’s concerts in here every Wednesday at noon.”  I didn’t know that but I know where I’ll be next Wednesday at noon.  (Also concerts on Mondays.)

The ballroom sized room is decorated elaborately from floor to ceiling in quotes, inscriptions, and mosaic plaques with great thinkers’ name, for instance, Shakespeare:

(Although I took a better-centered shot, I hadn’t used the flash & it’s dull looking without it.  I think you can see the essence of the detail better.  This is a room definitely worth a visit!)

I recommend at least half-day to a whole day to really enjoy Millenium Park & the Chicago Cultural Center, but this was a wonderful preview and we definitely did pass the hour-and-a-half quickly.

I like to be flexible when out and about: here we’d come out to eat and shop and we’ll get to that…but what a wonderful time we had building up to it!

PS: The website has a helpful “My Trip Planner” in case you a planning a trip to Chicago!


Filed under Chicago, Fall, Photos, Restaurants, Travel, Writing


Keep the drama on the page.

~ From Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write

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Kokololio Crab

I saw this sand crab in September on Kokololio Beach on Oahu.

There is a vastness out there and he’s just a-focusing on his little hole.  The ocean rushes up from time to time, and seems to erase his best efforts.  That Pacific drowns out the hole and fills it back with sand, but he keeps plugging away.


Kokololio Crab

This little guy intrigued me the moment I noticed him and he still does.  He makes me wish I’d gotten a better, tighter photo. But I’m new to photography so I had no idea really what I was doing.  For instance, I’d begun taking photos like this:


All brown, no perspective

Learning something new:…it’s like digging that hole and then being swamped unexpectedly by doubt, lack of motivation, restlessness, illness…

But to remember: I think, cultivating our art – whether it be writing, photography, blogging, cooking, mentoring (you get the idea) – helps us see. Gives us perspective. Gives our mighty digging its own reward. And whatever our personal Pacific is: learning to persevere on our little spot of sand is a great day at the beach!


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NaNoWriMo Motivation – Get Water

“Your brain is your biggest liquid asset.  It is composed of more than 85 percent water.  Little wonder then that if you are dehydrated, your thinking ability drops dramatically, as does the performance of your whole body.

*  The human body is 60% percent water, blood is 90% water, muscles are 75% water and bone is 25% water.  Water is one of the main structures of the body.  Drain your body of water and you’ll be left with a few pounds of chemicals worth about $5.00

*  Your brain is 1/50 of your total body weight, but it receives 20% of the blood circulation (1/5 of body’s water requirements come from your brain.

*  It is the most time efficient way of improving your mood and overall performance.  It takes a second to drink a glass of water, but the benefits last for hours.”

~ Excerpt from the book, Mind Games, by Michael Powell

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Day 20, NaNoWriMo

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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