Christmas Tree Removal

I have always cut and chopped my Christmas trees and burned them in my fireplace for the past several years, so I didn’t need to think about their disposal. But I also knew that there was a certain day when I could leave a tree by the garbage containers, and the village would pick it up.

With this in mind, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to get rid of a Christmas tree while living in Chicago – I heard that there were a lot of free programs available. But when I checked on the first week of January, it turned out that you have to drop your tree off at designated sites. I couldn’t do it without a car, and no Uber would drive a tree for me. I looked and looked, and nobody was offering this service. A couple of websites indicated that they are sold out. Finally, I found one service called Tree Santa and signed for a tree pickup on January 10.
The night before, I stripped the tree of all decorations, and Igor and I carried it down and put it in the corner of our courtyard.

They were supposed to text me the day before about a more precise pickup time, so when there was nothing, I messaged them, and they replied that they had too many requests and staff shortage, and they extended pickups till January 21, and can they move me to the EOW. I told them I could only wait till Wednesday, and they promised to reschedule.

The new pickup time was set to 2:30 PM on January 12. At 3:15 I messaged them and asked what’s the ETA :). They said that they are struggling (which I completely understand!) and that they will update me. At 5:15 (since they are supposedly working till 5 PM only) I messaged that it’s OK, I understand, but tomorrow is absolutely the last day. They messaged back: are you sure the tree is still there? I replied – yes, because I would need to unlock the gate for somebody to pick up the tree!

Then, at 6:30, I went skating because I didn’t want to miss this opportunity again. And guess what – when I was skating, somebody called me: can you open the gate? Well, it was almost 8 PM, and I was 50 minutes away from my house!

I started to text my neighbors, nobody responded right away, but in 2 min the tree person called me and said that somebody had let him in. Well, it ended up being my neighbor :). ‘
All well that ends well, but that’s a very typical story of this COVD winter!

Skating And The City Lights

Yesterday, I finally did what I wanted to do for a very long time: I went skating after work, for the last timeslot. Each time I tried before, it was always something that would stop me :). And maybe, I just didn’t want to get out of the house in the dark of the night.

I am so glad I did it yesterday; I had a lot of work that had fallen on me by the very end of the workday, and I made an effort to step out (full disclosure- I took my laptop with me :))

I know it’s a cliche, but the city lights are magical, and skating under the city lights instantaneously filled me with joy! I planned to skate for just half an hour but ended up skating until they called the patrons off the ice 🙂

Happy New Year!

I always wanted to see the city’s New Year fireworks, but it was challenging when I lived in Palatine, even when they had a couple of late-night trains. Going all that way for just fireworks is not worth the time. But now that I live in the city, I thought I had to ring the New Year in the very heart of it!
The fireworks were fired from the Riverwalk, all the way, in multiple places, which made them very convenient to watch.


The only problem was going back. If I only knew there wouldn’t be any trains for 45 minutes, I would suggest Igor walk half the way. But the Ventra app kept showing the next train coming in 14, 10, 8 minutes – and then flipping! Waiting indoors in the crowd of people when not all of them wore masks was not fun. Next year, I will know better!

The story behind the mural that got painted in Austin, Chicago last summer

I ended up doing this article because, back in November, a week before Thanksgiving, I was taking the bus past the intersection of Chicago and Laramie avenues and noticed a large, bright mural on the building at the northeast corner intersection that definitely wasn’t there back in June. I noticed the name of the artist – the iconic Chicago muralist Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes – and tried to reach out to him. It took a few weeks to successfully pitch the things and get in touch with Barnes, but I filed the article December 9.

A very truncated version of the article was published in print, in the December 15 issue of Austin Weekly News, but, as of this writing, it never showed up online. Since I thought that the print version lost some pretty interesting parts, and since it doesn’t officially exist online in any form, I decided to post the article as submitted.

A bit of a side note. When I was trying to take a picture below, the group of Black teens who were hanging out nearby weren’t exactly happy to see a white guy with a camera. But when I persuaded them that I wasn’t there to photograph them, they offered me weed.

Continue reading “The story behind the mural that got painted in Austin, Chicago last summer”

Merry, Merry Chicago Concert

Yesterday, I was at the CSO holiday concert – what a delight! It was a last-minute decision; I was not sure I would fit it into my schedule comfortably. I decided just a couple of days before the concert, and I also invited one of my friends with her daughter. It was their first time for both of them in the CSO, and I like to take people to the CSO for the first time almost as much as I like to teach people to skate!

It was a very good concert, very festive, the one which helps to feel the holiday magic. I can recall a couple of more exciting shows, which would tell a story (like the one based on O’Henry’s The Gifts of the Magi or the one about the Christmas truce during WWI), but this one was still very good.

The best thing was that the CSO returned to the holiday tradition and presented “Christmas in Chicago” at the end (and as it ought to be, it was not on the program). I think it was in 2018 when they did not sing this song, and I was so upset with it that I ended up not going in 2019!

SO this year, the concert is back, and Christmas in Chicago is back! 

And for those who for some reason never heard this song, here ae official lyrics:

Christmas in Chicago – lyrics

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Snowflakes fill the frosty air, skaters frolic on the square

And on State Street dazzling windows are a beautiful sight to see

Christmas in Chicago, as hearts fill with wonder

Lights sparkle all along Magnificent Mile

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

At Christmas all Chicago wears a smile

The City of Big Shoulders wears a robe of winter white

The lion statues wear their wreaths of green

Picasso’s sculpture wears a cheerful multicolored glow

Reflected from the city’s Christmas tree

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

We’ll make a trip to carol at the zoo in Lincoln Park

We’ll sing for kangaroo and chimpanzee

We’ll warm up with hot chocolate there and then we’ll go downtown

To Marshall Field’s and sit on Santa’s knee

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Sleigh bells ring on horsedrawn cabs near Water Tower Place

Church bells peal from steeples ’round the town

Salvation Army Santas add a joyful ring-a-ling

The Loop is filled with happy Christmas sounds

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Chicago’s kind of Christmas is a magic kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Yesterday, I was at the CSO holiday concert – what a delight! It was a last-minute decision; I was not sure I would fit it into my schedule comfortably. I decided just a couple of days before the concert, and I also invited one of my friends with her daughter. It was their first time for both of them in the CSO, and I like to take people to the CSO for the first time almost as much as I like to teach people to skate!

It was a very good concert, very festive, the one which helps to feel the holiday magic. I can recall a couple of more exciting shows, which would tell a story (like the one based on O’Henry’s The Gifts of the Magi or the one about the Christmas truce during WWI), but this one was still very good.

The best thing was that the CSO returned to the holiday tradition and presented “Christmas in Chicago” at the end (and as it ought to be, it was not on the program). I think it was in 2018 when they did not sing this song, and I was so upset with it that I ended up not going in 2019!

SO this year, the concert is back, and Christmas in Chicago is back! 

And for those who for some reason never heard this song, here are official lyrics:

Christmas in Chicago – lyrics

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Snowflakes fill the frosty air, skaters frolic on the square

And on State Street dazzling windows are a beautiful sight to see

Christmas in Chicago, as hearts fill with wonder

Lights sparkle all along Magnificent Mile

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

At Christmas all Chicago wears a smile

The City of Big Shoulders wears a robe of winter white

The lion statues wear their wreaths of green

Picasso’s sculpture wears a cheerful multicolored glow

Reflected from the city’s Christmas tree

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

We’ll make a trip to carol at the zoo in Lincoln Park

We’ll sing for kangaroo and chimpanzee

We’ll warm up with hot chocolate there and then we’ll go downtown

To Marshall Field’s and sit on Santa’s knee

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Sleigh bells ring on horsedrawn cabs near Water Tower Place

Church bells peal from steeples ’round the town

Salvation Army Santas add a joyful ring-a-ling

The Loop is filled with happy Christmas sounds

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Chicago’s kind of Christmas is a magic kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all!

And that’s exactly how we felt!

Continue reading “Merry, Merry Chicago Concert”

A Weekend Filled With Holiday Activities

Last weekend, when Lena visited me, we went to the Christkindle Market. Lena didn’t have an opportunity to visit it for many years! It turned out that she didn’t even know that Chicago’s official Christmas tree was moved to Millennium Park!

By then, I visited the marked four of five times, and there was no problem getting in, but there was a huge line to enter that time! The line circled Daley Center twice, and although it was moving pretty fast, it took us 35 minutes to get inside.

Inside, the market was packed! However, it turned out that people didn’t really look around – there were food stands with no lines at all, so we were able to get our drinks (I brought the mug which I got during one of my previous visits, and Lena got a new one), and then food – this time, I chose a “kilometer” sausage.

Continue reading “A Weekend Filled With Holiday Activities”

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!
Continue reading “Christmas Is Back: Caroling At The Cloud Gate”

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.