Things Which Made Me Feel Good

My yoga teacher started free meditation sessions on Wednesdays, and this week I tried it for the first time. It felt great; we did a lot of breathing exercises and a long meditation at the end. She also reduced her rate for all the group classes, so that everybody could take as many classes as they can. 

Another good thing was that I’ve experimented with some baking, and things turned to be better than I could even imagine. 

I can hardly call it baking; I used the cinnamon bread for that recipe, and fresh berries and yogurt for toppings (only one of the tiny cakes was topped with the tart cherry jam). But I could not even imagine how good it will taste!

I’ve also experimented with the flake dough; the first one was not so great, but the second one was much better! I am going to repeat over the weekend, and then hopefully will take some pictures. 

Also, it was great to see these signs of spring!

I Miss the City

I miss Chicago really badly, but I can’t find any essential reason to travel, and thereby I am not going there. It’s not only to obey to the governor’s orders but also because I am the only person which my mom is in contact, and I do not want to risk to bring something back to her.

I saw this footage on the WBEZ site and wanted to share:

Drone footage of Chicago under quarantine

One More Walk in the Forest Preserve

Last weekend, Saturday was as bad as it could be – rain all day without stopping. The forecast for Sunday, however, was gorgeous, and I thought that I might try to take mom to the forest preserve.
Mom is holding up very well, but it’s not so easy for her. I am not taking her anywhere, even to the grocery store; she does not get a chance to meet my friends anymore. I thought that I might at least let her see some beautiful sights.

The week before that, the forest preserve was so crowded on Sunday, that I was afraid that it would be closed. But that Sunday morning, when I was biking, I barely saw any people. I told mom that we are going to try. She asked: you think it’s safe? I told her: I will drive you there and we will see. If there will be too many people for my comfort, we are turning around and driving back.

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The Spanish Flu in Chicago in 1918

Last week, Chicago Tribune published an excellent article about the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918-1919. It contains multiple images for Tribune articles from that time. Here is a link to the article, but since I do not really trust Tribune articles to be on place indefinitely, I saved here a substantial portion of the pictures.

I am not going to comment on them – otherwise it would be easier to copy the whole article. I think that the pictures speak for themselves. What is terrifying, however is the striking similarity between the current situation and what was going on at that time. And what is even more striking and more terrifying is how fast these grim pages of history were forgotten.

I have to admit that one of the reasons I underestimated the magnitude of disaster in the beginning was my unawareness of how the Spanish flue looked like. I was thinking: OK, there was a biggest pandemic ever, and it is barely mentioned in the history of the 20th century. The world survived. Now, that I am reading these archived articles, and I am looking at that pictures of which at least 80 percent I never saw I realize the depth of the tragedy.

Just take a look at the one-hundred years old headlines: masks, hand-washing, Lysol(!!!), schools, movies theaters and public dancing are closed. The lift of quarantine, and almost immediately the next spike follows. There was no vaccine, and there was no reliable diagnostics. And no ventilators for that matter… 40,000 people got sickened in Chicago, and 10,000 of them died…

t. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the American Influenza epidemic in 1918.
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Taking Time off Work to do Work

Boris and I are trying to do several research projects together, and doing this is the best thing to preserve our togetherness when we are physically apart for an extended time. As much as I wanted to do all these things (one was his idea, and two others are mine), I was finding it challenging to squizz this extra work in. I do not know who is bored during quarantine, or who does not know what to do with their time, but it’s not me :). Each weekend I was thinking – I need an extra day! And then I thought – but I have some! Indeed, I checked my PTO balance and found that I have more than five weeks off this year. Yes, I hope to be able to use them to help Anna later in the year, but for the time being, traveling is not an option anyway.

I took Friday off to do some of that work. Granted, there was also some “waste of time” built-in, but I also did substantial writing, and we spent about two hours discussing one of these projects on FaceTime.

I do not know why I didn’t think about taking time off before, but I am glad I did :). Most likely, I will do it again in a week, I feel like it’s a great way to stay sane. Or, and I did turn my slack and work email off for that day!

Watching Movies Together

Since the Siskel Film Center started their “Film Center from your Sofa” programming, I was thinking of how Igor and I can watch movies together, as if we were actually at the movies. And after I figured out how to share the screen on zoom, I knew that that was the answer. The only thing to figure out was what to watch and what time will work.

We settled for the movie “The Booksellers” .

The allure of the printed volume is at the heart of this engaging, Gotham-centered overview of the rare-book trade. One collector compares the relationship of an individual and a book to a love affair, and bibliophile Fran Lebowitz (whose recurrent comments form a loose spine for the film) avows that she could never bring herself to throw a book away. Executive-produced and narrated by Parker Posey, THE BOOKSELLERS explores the rapidly changing (some would say, dying) world of high-end book dealers, book scouts, collectors, and antiquarians. In the post-Amazon, post-Kindle world, are bookstores—and even the book itself—doomed? The disappearance of many beloved bookstores strikes a melancholy note, but the film also takes note of a recent boom in small, independent stores, and bookseller Heather O’Donnell asserts, “The death of the book is highly overrated.” (MR)

From the Siskel Center website

We loved the movie and the idea of watching together (for the price of one :)), although Igor had some sound quality issues. As for me, I had a virtual night out 🙂

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Deer Grove Forest Preserve

Last Sunday, I went to the Forest Preserve to check my area and just to be there. My friend told me that the parking closest to my house was full in the morning. I had some hope that things will be better in the afternoon, but they weren’t. I turned around and drove to the main parking lot.

It busy as well, but at least there is more space there, so I found a place to park, it just took me longer to walk to my area. There were lots of people walking, running, and biking. Most of the visitors were trying hard to follow the social distancing guidelines, but it was very difficult! I am not ruling out the possibility that these people thought that I have some authority since I was wearing the forest preserve monitor vest :). There was a police car by the entrance, and I was thinking – what if the Cook County officials would decide to close the Forest Preserve after seeing such a crowd?! So far, they didn’t, and I hope that people will continue to try their best.

When I talked to my daughter, she told me that there are cities that opted to close some streets for traffic, to allow more room for people to walk observing the distance. She mentioned that Madison is considering similar measures. I think it would be great if something like that would happen in Chicago – I feel for people who can’t be outside safely!

The Forest Preserve Parking
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Santiago, Italy – a Documentary

One more of many Siskel Center offerings, Santiago, Italy is a documentary about the 1973 events in Chile, and about the chilean people who found their new home in Italy.

After many years of Soviet propaganda, and then after many years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is easy to fall into a habit of thinking that everything that we were told back then was propaganda :). It took me as a surprise to hear that Salvador Allende, indeed, was building socialism in Chile and that he indeed had the broad support of the Chilean people. And that the Communist Party of Italy was, indeed, a serious political power in the ’70s. 

Also, I saw a lot of footage of coup d’état, which I do not remember seen back in the ’70s, and I do not know why especially because I’ve seen some other pieces. It was a very strange feeling. I have already forgotten that the events of 1973 were tragic ones, and this documentary reminded me of them. People are telling about their experience, real people, they pause, they repeat themselves and start over. They are trying to find the right words to describe their feelings; they laugh and cry…

How the State of Illinois is Doing

I am a renter – I pay for mom’s apartment, and I am doing it for the third year now. However, it was for the first time that in the second week of April, I received an email from mom’s property management company: thank you for paying your rent! Igor told me that his property management sent a similar email, which proves one more time the magnitude of the April rent problem. I know that there were lots of petitions for waving the April rent, and then the property owners were trying to secure delays on their mortgage payments… you know the story. The situation in Illinois is not better than in other states. That being said, I am happy that both my sons have jobs at the moment, although with reduced income.

I hear a lot of conversations on the radio on how the current crisis is going to change the world. But when the commentators say “the world,” they mean the United States. Hopes are that some of the measures which are taken as temporal, like guaranteed sick leave, extended unemployment coverage will stay. And that people will be more inclined to consider some form of Universal Health Care, and that the UBI won’t be dismissed on the spot. I share these hopes.

And now I want to talk a little bit more about the state of affairs in Illinois. I’ve already mentioned multiple times that the current presidency made me extremely appreciative of the principles of federalism. I voted for Pritzker in 2018, and never regretted it. I try to make time to listen in to most of his briefings. He is particular, very open, and he genuinely cares about people.

On Sunday, the reporters were asking him the “when” question, and he was explaining over and over that he understands they want a definite answer, and everybody wants it, and he wants it, but there is no way to tell. The reporters kept asking: now, that it’s getting warmer, will he consider opening some parks and golf courses? One reporter was pleading: can we open the Lakefront? Yes, I know, that weekend, it was horrible, I understand, but can we please try one more time? We will be better! Can you please give us another chance?!

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