Fighting The Food Deserts

Friday was our company day at the Austin Harvest. On Tuesday, our HR sent out the driving/parking directions and asked to “let her know if anybody does not have transportation.” I messaged her that I would take the Green line (even if I had a car, why I would drive South-West at 4 PM on Friday?!). She replied – OK, but later when I passed her desk she asked me: so, you are going to take CTA?… Oh, I was sure she would ask! I laughed and said: I was waiting for that question! No worries, I know how to ride CTA! I know how to ride the Green line! I know exactly why you asked, but let me assure you, I know how to be in Austin! And I reminded her what I told her previously about Igor and Austin weekly. She asked hopefully: is he going to be with you? I told her: maybe just to help me carry the produce, but with him or without, I know

I had mixed feelings about this conversation: it was w=very sweet of her to ask, but it is so sad that there was a reason to ask. Actually, there were two reasons, and both are the sad ones: about the situation in Austin in general, and about “people who do not ride the Green Line.” 

In any case, on Friday, we met up with Igor and went to the Austin Harvest, and we were the first ones there. And I bought $30 worth of produce (partially for Igor), exceeding the required $20 minimum purchase. Two gigantic bags of produce! I was very happy to support the initiative, but I wonder why they even need that kind of fundraising – it’s not like their prices are high, and it’s not like there is much competition around. In fact, there is no competition, which is why they opened the market in the first place. 

Here is an article about how and why Austin Harvest started. Now, they are planning to build a permanent space for the market, which will allow them to operate indoors in colder weather. Until then, the market is outdoor only and will be open until Thanksgiving. 

On the way back, Igor and I talked about the ways of reviving the neighborhoods. Austin is one of those that have a potential, and I am wondering what could become a turning point.

Joffrey Ballet Opening Of The Season

Joffrey Ballet has also returned to live performances! They opened their season on Wednesday with the show called “Home: A Celebration.” Now, they perform in the Lyric Opera House, I move that they’ve been looking forward. Now, we have Opera and Ballet at the same place, as it should be:)

There were fewer people in the audience than for the opening of the Lyric season. I am not sure why – do people care less about ballet? I mean, for the Lyric season-opening, the theater was packed, and on Wednesday, there were some gaps in the audience :)/ I enjoyed the performance from the first to the very last moment. It was brilliant!

I took mom to this performance. At first, I thought that she might start going on her usual “that’s not Kirov ballet.” Fortunately, she didn’t declare the superiority of the Russian/Soviet ballet and genuinely enjoyed the performance.
It was brilliant! The performance started from the revived Birthday variations on Verdi’s music. This piece was choreographed by one of Joffrey’s co-founders, Gerald Arpino, presenting classical ballet. The other three pieces are contemporary, and they are soul and mind-blowing! I do not have words to describe them!
I was hoping that there would be some videos on Joffrey’s website, but unfortunately, I found only one very short video. Hopefully, more videos will be awailable later!

I am copying the descriptions from the digital program notes:

Birthday Variations, choreographed
by Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino
with music by Giuseppe Verdi, was
commissioned in 1986 by Becky D’Angelo
as a birthday present to her husband Dino,
who owned Chicago’s Civic Opera House
(now the Lyric Opera House) and loved
Verdi’s music. This lively and melodic
ballet is considered one of Arpino’s most popular creations.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Coming for to carry me home
I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home
Inspired by the powerful American
spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,
Chanel DaSilva creates a visceral narrative
work for five men that investigates the
supernatural majesty of angels and the
many complexities of what it means to be
human. Set to the music of avant-garde cellist Zoë Keating.



Under the Trees’
Voices features
15 dancers
performing to
Symphony No. 2
by Italian
Ezio Bosso.
The performance
channels the
power of
community in
the age of social
distancing as well
as paying tribute
to an endangered
nature. In four
distinct sections,
Nicolas Blanc
imagines a future
of hope and unity.

Yoshihisa Arai envisions the lead role
in Boléro as a type of muse, evoking a
humanistic quality to the overall feeling
of the piece, leading their “disciples”
through a serene world of light and
shadows. The primary inspiration for
Boléro is the Spanish-flavored, orchestral
work of the same name by Maurice
Ravel. The famous one-movement score
is known for beginning softly and ending,
according to the composer’s instructions,
as loudly as possible. “To me, the most
fascinating quality of the music is that the
rhythm remains the same throughout the
piece and yet, as the instruments change
from snare drum to flute, trombone
to woodwinds, and so on, an array of
emotions are unleashed,” says Arial, This inspires me most of all”

Lyric Opera Opens It’s Season: Verdi’s Macbeth

Almost all of my subscriptions start in September, and now I have a hard time fitting everything in :). When I subscribed, I hoped that at least something would work and wouldn’t get canceled, and now nothing is canceled, everything is happening, and it is so great and wonderful, but there are not enough hours in a day, and not enough days in life :). 

When I chose to attend Macbeth in the Lyric Opera on September 17, I did not realize that it would be both the opening night for this opera and the first live performance after 19 months. And let me tell you, it was something!!!

I tried to dress nicely, but most patrons have dressed ten levels of elegancy above me! I really enjoyed looking at all these ball gowns, opened backs, laces, etc., men in tuxedos and bow ties. 

Continue reading “Lyric Opera Opens It’s Season: Verdi’s Macbeth”

“Contagion” With Dr. Allison Arwady

Since the Siskel Center reopening in August, they screen so many interesting films that I want to be there every other day! One of the series is called Chicago Favorites, and last Saturday, they screened “Contagion” with special guest Dr. Allison Arwady. It was a little bit surreal to see her live after seen her on-screen almost every day for the past 18 months :), and the conversation was exceptionally interesting. At the time when this movie was filmed, she worked as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, just as Kate Winslet’s character in the movie.

People asked Dr. Allison how close to reality things are presented in the movie and whether at that time she thought that such things could happen for real (her reply: absolutely, it was not the question of if, but when). She mentioned that quarantining Chicago in the situation described in the movie wouldn’t make sense and that as for the movie’s food shortage, she said: we grow our own food! So although the supply chain disruption is real as we see it, it won’t end up in the food shortage and people breaking into the stores (that happened for different reasons!)
You know what I like about Dr. Arwady? She is in front of people almost every day. She is never falsely optimistic, but she also never panic, and her explanations of the Chicago Health Department policies are clear and making sense. That e-being said, she is very optimistic about our future, and she says vaccines work exactly like expected, and we couldn’t even hope for such an outcome, And we will get through it.

And I trust her!

Aquarium Member Night

On Tuesday, there was a member night in the Aquarium. There were two days to choose from, August 24 and 27, and I’ve realized that I won’t be able to make it on August 27, because my family is coming for our big weekend. When I signed up there was not much information about what would happen during the member’s night. I just knew that there wouldn’t be an aquatic presentation and that there will be no speeches:), and there will be no banquet. The entry was timed, and I thought it would be just an opportunity to see the exhibit without the crowd.

I took mom with me because she didn’t go when I want with Anna & her family.

It turned out that the Aquarium came up with the program just hours before it started, and I didn’t even look at my personal emails! Still, I was able to figure out what we can do and in which sequence.

Mom was pretty much like a child, which was good in this case. It was the first time in her life that she saw the 4D movies, and she loved it, although she said that it was a little bit too much stimulation for her.

The ending of the night was a little bit dramatic. When we headed out, we saw that the terrible thunderstorm we expected earlier had finally started. And it was terrible indeed! There was no way we could get out; no umbrella could keep us dry!

So we turned back to the museum and went to the cafe to have dinner. I was hoping to see the rain calming doing, but that didn’t happen. So we asked the staff which exit will be the most convenient for Uber pickup and headed out. We were lucky to get an amazing driver who was from Rogers Park herself, so we talked all the way :). And then she said that there is no way I could walk home from mom’s place, so she pulled up and waited till I walked mom to her apartment, and then added my stop to the ride:)

But regardless, it was a great event. I think that the Aquarium staff went above and beyond to make it a memorable experience. ANd I was so glad to see that there were many kids attending!

The Rest Of Weekend Activities

To recap the rest of our weekend activities: after the architectural tour, we went to the Chicago Architectural Center – we disembarked right there, and also, Lena didn’t visit it since it moved to this new home. We saw the exhibit of Helmut Jahn, which I saw earlier with my mom, and the permanent exhibit on urban development, which was very interesting.

Continue reading “The Rest Of Weekend Activities”

The Crowds On The Streets

The crowds on the streets of Chicago during the past weekend were ginormous! It was not even pre-covid level; it was more than that! It was like being in New York on the New Year’s Eve.

Lena and I opted to wear masks outside most of the time because the crowds didn’t make it much better than inside. Who needs Lalapaloose with such crowds! (they said that Lala ended up not being a super-spreader after all). 

On Friday, our office building issued a mask mandate inside, and today, it was officially announced by the City. I am perfectly fine with that; as I already said multiple times, I would rather do things masked than not do things. 

Also, remember all these subscriptions I as purchasing in the past several weeks? Today, all the entertainment establishments sent out emails of proof of vaccination required to attend the event. It was decided by the League of Chicago Theatres. During the past several weeks, some of them even sent out surveys asking the patrons how they would react to the vaccination mandate. I was happy to answer – yes, I support it! 

Dr. Alyson Awdrey said during the press conference today, that the number of infected people per day in Chicago, although it has risen several times since June (from less than 100 to over 400), is still way below the 2,000 cases per day in winter. 

I hope that people will get vaccinated!

Chicago Architectural Cruise

The Architectural Cruise is the best attraction in Chicago! I heard once that if there is only one thing you have time to do in Chicago, do the Architectural cruise, and I can’r agree more! Each tour is different because each docent prepares their own tour, although the list of the places they need to cover is pre-defined. I’ve been on that tour at least twenty times :). The docent we had this time was just OK, not great. However, Lena really enjoyed it – it was a while since she was on that tour, and there are lots of new buildings which didn’t even exist seven years ago!

Continue reading “Chicago Architectural Cruise”

Living Every Moment Of Chicago Summer…

Lena and I had a great weekend together! I am happy I created a mini-vacation for her, but I also did the same thing for myself – otherwise, I will be working all this time :). There are high chances that I will work ten hours a day each day of the upcoming week to compensate for that, but we still had a great time!

Saturday morning, we went biking on the Lake Front Trail. Lena saw all my pictures with beautiful sunsets, and she wanted to have the same experience. We ended up being at the right place at the right time, and I could even film the sunrise!

I didn’t have time for a blog post yesterday, but I posted a lot on the instagram. Now I am trying to save some time and embed the instagram post, hopefully it will be visible. You can click on the arrows to scroll through the picture.

As you can see, we biked far enough but not as far as I hoped. To be fair, Lena didn’t bike for over a year, so the long bike ride was a little bit too harsh of a start.

When we returned home, I made quiches for breakfast (and shared with my neighbors)

And then, we were off for another adventure. I booked the Architectural Cruise for PM departure, and we had time before that to visit the Millennium park one more time (there was a Zumba class in progress) and then we went to the Lurie Garden

We strolled through the West Riverwalk one more time

had some ice cream in the Tiny Cafe, and then headed to the boat tour –