Christmas Is Back: Caroling At The Cloud Gate

This particular concert yesterday was not very interesting, but I am happy that the tradition returned, and I hope to come to one more concert!

The reflection of the city lights in the Bean is one of the most captivating pictures you can imagine!
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Christmas Is Back: Christkindle Market

That’s how many other people and I feel. Christmas is back. Almost all of the Chicago Christmas activities and attractions returned this season, and people are eager to participate.

One of my most favorite things is the Christkindle Market on Maley Plaza. It was online last year, and I am so happy that it is back this year, even though the prices are even higher!
I already went there three times: by myself, with the youth from ODS on Monday, and with mom and Igor today.

I bought a star for the shelter (because nobody can remember where are the stars I bought two years ago, and in any case, the residents are all new).


On another visit, I bought the roasted nuts – a large bag of three different kinds. I need to buy one more so that I could also send some to my friends who love them:).

And today, we all got the anniversary Christkringle mugs:

Yesterday, it ended up being too crowded, and it was hard to see things, so I need to make sure to take mom there one more time.

Fall/Winter CSA

I really liked it when on Sunday I managed to make breakfast with all ingredients coming from my local CSA deliveries. That’s because Urban Canopy cooperates with other local vendors to deliver the boxes which include eggs, mushrooms, and bread in addition to their vegetables. I could also use their chai instead of coffee, and then it will be everything… OK, next time 🙂

That’s hoe the box came – I ordered a chicken well!
And that’s a box from my other CSA – Nichols Farms

Kenosha after the Rittenhouse verdict – calm in the eye of the storm

The day after the jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges related to him killing two people and wounding a third, I took the 12:51 PM train to Kenosha, not sure what to expect.

I wasn’t expecting the kind of rioting and looting that rocked Kenosha in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, which inspired Rittenhouse to drive to the city and play vigilante. I agreed with several other journalists that mentioned on Twitter that the weather was way too cold for this kind of thing. But I figured there might be protests. And, honestly, I was curious if we might see something like the mass painting of murals on the plywood I saw when I went to Kenosha on Aug. 28, 2020, three days after Rittenhouse shot three people and five days after Blake was shot. That came as a complete, albeit pleasant surprise to me at the time.

I’ve blogged about that visit, and the visit in October of the same year. Since then, I’ve been to Kenosha in March of this year and in the end of May. I saw more and more plywood come down. In March, I read an article in Kenosha News I got at Kroger’s about how the city really wanted businesses to take the plywood down, and saw in the end of May that, while most did, a few didn’t. In those two times – it wasn’t as if the events of last summer, of the then-upcoming Rittenhouse trial, weren’t on people’s minds, but it wasn’t what people focused on. I was curious how people were feeling now, when at least one chapter of this saga is over.

Some words about my feelings on the verdict. I wasn’t able to follow the trial as closely as I would’ve liked – I still have work, and writing of the creative kind – but, from what I’ve seen and read, I thought the prosecution didn’t make the best case. And there the fact that Wisconsin law, like the law in some other states, allows people to brandish firearms who have no business brandishing firearms, and gives too much leeway to people claiming self-defense. Two people died, one of whom was unarmed. There have to be consequences for that. Maybe not life in prison type consequences, but consequences nonetheless.

I’ve heard some variation of the statement that this would have played out differently if Rittenhouse was black, and I think there is something to it, in the sense that, one of the things covering majority-black neighborhoods taught me was we as the American society more readily assume danger when it comes to Black men, even Black kids, the way we don’t necessarily do with white kids. An African-American teen brandishing a rifle would’ve gotten more concern, I doubt police would’ve been allowed him to just walk away and I think the jury would’ve been less inclined to see him as a scared kid fighting for his life.

I wanted to go to Kenosha on Friday, when the verdict was announced, but Metra Union Pacific North Line schedule, which already didn’t have that many trips to Kenosha, only got worse since my last visit. The only way to get to Kenosha now is to take an early morning train, and the only evening train returning to Chicago is earlier than ever. But Saturday schedule, which was restored at the end of May, is still more flexible in that regard. I still managed to miss an earlier morning train, but at least the Saturday schedule had a noon option.

Like I said, I expected that there might be a protest, maybe a rally, maybe a handful of protesters at the courthouse. But that’s not what I found in Kenosha.

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Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting

I forgot to write about the actual start of the holiday season: the Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. For many years, I attended it regardless of the weather, first with the kids, then on my own. I stopped attending it after the tree was moved away from the Daley Plaza to Millennium Park. The first reason was that the tree should be close to the Christkindle Market; they belong together. Second, the new location is less convenient. You have to be in a specific place to see what’s going on by the tree, and the first year I observed that most people who gathered to see the tree were able to see nothing.

Then, it was the Laquan McDonald unrest. It was quite horrible when people were already marching towards the Loop, and Mayor Emmanuel was lighting the Christmas tree. It is no wonder that people started pulling the lights off the tree and doing other damage to it.

Because of all that, I stopped coming to the ceremony, but this year, everything was different!
After not having a ceremony last year, we had it live! Also, this time around, there was more space to watch, and also, several large screens were projecting what was going on on stage.
Igor took my mom to the event, and one of my friends joined us. As usual, mom was first complaining that it takes too long to get there, and she did not want to inconvenience anybody. Then, she complained that she could not see anything, and then she said that the show with Ded Morozes on the boats in Saint Petersburg was better. Nevertheless, she asked both Igor and me to send her the pictures, and she asked several times how the show was called and for how many years it was on, and then sent the pictures to all her friends.

Fireworks after the tree lighting

The Start Of The Season

I never started Christmas preparations that early. I hate doing Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving. However, this year, with the global crisis of everything, I had no choice but to start early.

I’ve already bought all the baking supplies and ordered all packaging materials. Christmas cards, holiday stamps, and holiday address labels arrived, and all charitable gifts are purchased and either already arrived or will arrive in the next couple of days.

Today, I packed two charitable gifts, baked the first 133 cookies, and wrote and prepared for mailing the first five international Christmas cards.

Now, I am officially in season!

Books

I finally finished Bedrock faith, which I read as a part of One book – One Chicago.

I am still thinking about this book. I rated it 4-star, but I would give it two separate grades if I could. One for the quality of writing, and another for the book’s main idea.

The book is very well written. You do not want to rush through; you are not trying to turn the pages before you finish reading and pick at the end. I read it slowly, enjoying the language, savoring each detail, and each of the characters appeared so real!

As for the book’s main idea, I am still hesitant about my feelings. I think that the book manifests it loud and clear that “once a bad apple always a bad apple.” It feels like Stew Pot “was born bad” and acted violently throughout his life because he could not act differently. And I have a problem with that statement. I believe that under life circumstances, a person can become very negative and that their mind might take such a turn that they would constantly think of harming somebody. But it will always be impossible for me to accept that people might be “born that way,” and there is no way to change it. I would love to discuss it with somebody who read it.

Another book I recently finished listening to is Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. My impressions are similar to what I felt after finishing “Color of Law”: I can’t believe it’s happening here and now. Wilkerson suggests that race is social rather than a biological characteristic and compares the position in the society of Blacks with this of untouchables in the Indian society. The similarities are shocking. Also, she describes many real-life situations that are too real, so well-recognizable, and once again, it feels unreal that things like this happen nowadays. 

Partial Moon Eclipse

Tonight was the longest partial moon eclipse in over 500 years; at least, that’s what I read the day before. Chicago Tribune was saying that it would be very easy to observe, and since it was three-and-a-half hours long, I had chances to see some of it.

The eclipse was supposed to end at 4-45 AM, so I made a point to get up at 3-45, and at 4 AM, I was out on the street. First, I thought I would see it from my balcony, but this didn’t work. However, when I came down to the street, I saw it right away!

It was enchanting, and although I could not capture the actual thing on my camera, I am very glad that I woke up an hour earlier than usual. The sight was worth it!