Week In Review

Rich had been locked down in his office at the corner of Columbus and Wacker for a couple weeks and we’ve barely had a moment to so much as say hello. He’s also had a bad cold so when he’s not working he’s sleeping. I think it’s convenient that this is happening now, right when it’s time to do the Christmas shopping thing for family. But Friday evening we took a nice walk down the street to look for SmartWool sox to stuff some stockings and we stopped and had the best Chicago meal to date at a little cozy wine bar called The Red Rooster Cafe. I could have sworn, by the taste of my roast chicken and mashed potatoes, that I was in the French countryside. We also stopped by the tea store and bought some small gifts for friends and the clerk made Rich a cup of Greek Mountain tea with verbena for his cold.

When we got home Rich said he wanted to catch up on my blog since he hadn’t had a chance to read it for about a week. When he came out of his office this is what he said: "You had some posts in there that were more chickafied. I had a hard time schlogging through it. You know, the recipes and all that kinda crap. Usually you’re more gender free. But the photo of Greenfinch is incredible." Chickafied??

But then, I put very little credence in a guy who has become addicted to Mucinex in less than 3 days and woke up with a start in the middle of the night to ask me why my feet were turning purple. Chickafied.
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Hoss came close with "spotted wing orange butt" on the bug quiz below but Michelle (Queen of www research and trivia) actually identified this lovely bug. It’s a Polka Dot Wasp Moth. Apt. (FC just commented that it’s an Oleander Moth. That’s right, too, but now I’m all in a panic that I have a poisonous oleander down there that my fat stepcat is dumb enough to nibble…)
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Lossano_c6amyzoo_lights_5
My Florida friend, FC, used the (non)word ‘slumpnicity’ in a recent post. That came to mind as Rich and I enjoyed another seasonal outing last night. Lincoln Park Zoo is wildly aglow this time of year with Zoo Lights. I saw them from the sky as I flew in from Florida the another night and marveled again, from a different perspective, at what an extravaganza this is. Last night was mild and people were there in the thousands. They had a guy doing ice sculpting just as fast as it could melt, my fellow volunteers were helping children decorate cookies and make antler hats and Santa was in the primate house with a long line of children waiting. I can’t remember seeing so many happy families out and about at one time, ever. Every enclosure is lit up, giant outlines of wild animals line the paths, the carousel and popcorn cart are all aglow. Farm in the Zoo and Children’s Zoo (both little "sub-zoos" within the zoo) are completely outlined with twinkling lights. My favorite lights are the more subtle light reflections of giant snowflakes that glow against the dark back rock walls of the big cat enclosures.

How do the animals respond to all of this nighttime activity? They don’t. Slumpnicity was the order of the night. Curiously or not, zoo animals sleep at night. The smaller ones that would be nocturnal in the wild are in "night light" exhibits so they are active during the day when visitors are normally there (bats, for example) but, by and large, the residents sleep at night. And they didn’t seem interested in changing that routine just because there were throngs of noisy children and Christmas carols blaring. One of the things I appreciate at LPZ is that the exhibits are designed so that the animals have options. The larger animals can be indoors, outdoors or in a non-viewing area den. The primates all have high recessed places where they can retreat from the public eye. Despite these choices, the animals seem to go where they want, when they want, pretty much oblivious to the human activity around them.

Last night, the black leopard could have been high up on the rocks on soft straw but she was sleeping contentedly on a big appliance box the keepers gave her; the big cats seem particularly fond of boxes. In the 26 million dollar Regenstein Center for African Apes the lights were dimmed and people were being respectfully quiet but it didn’t seem to matter much one way or the other as the lowland gorillas snuggled and spooned and snoozed away.87241730_93aa1510a2 In the primate house the Titi Monkeys (Callicebus donacophilus) couldn’t get close enough to each other in peaceful slumber. I counted 4 long tails braided together, hanging from the branch but by just looking at that soft bundle of gray fur you wouldn’t otherwise know how to count them.

Last night was another reminder to me that, although Chicago doesn’t yet feel like home, I am finding a way of life here. It’s a beautiful, clean and vibrant city. And last night, at the zoo, all was calm and all was bright.
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Speaking of the zoo, I’m about to head off for my last day of general docent training before I enter into a one-on-one mentorship for the next six months. I’ve been in every house and exhibit area, I’ve toured the hospital and I’ve been coached on how to, ever so gently, redirect the attentions of loud and obstreperous children keen on extolling the sexual habits of white-cheeked gibbons. Now I will study the details of genus and species and learn by shadowing.
The zoo has some docents who have been there for more than twenty years; it’s a position that has a high retention rate. Find something you like, stick with it.

Before I go I’m going to eat fresh hot tamales for breakfast. My friends, Lee and Mario and Patricia went out early this morning for the real deal. They’re eight dollars a dozen and better than prime rib. This afternoon, the pre-Christmas panic continues as I try to get the last mail gifts ready- and that means taking on the Chicago post office early tomorrow morning. Tonight we will settle down and remember the reason for the season as we mark this third Sunday in Advent. Tomorrow I will go to Union Station to pick up Abby who has been in Ann Arbor this weekend before coming to spend nine whole days with her mama. Yes! She hasn’t seen our new home yet so I’m very excited to get her in my grasp. Her stuffed animals, favorite childhood books and quilt are not so subtly arranged in the guest room upstairs…

Have a lovely Sunday!

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15 responses to “Week In Review

  1. What a lovely way to start my day. Thanks. I love the visit to the zoo, and I will have to make it there sometime in December to see the lights. So far, my time in Chicago has only been during the summer.

    It is very clear to me that you are findin a home in Chicago. There certainly is not a lack of things to do. And thanks for the tip about the restaurant. I’ll have to look it up while I’m there.

    My son was here overnight. He came for a 10-year reuntion of his high school basketball team. He flew in yesterday morning and back home this morning. The whole family will be here next week for Christmas. Yippee! Eager anticipation.

  2. God I am so jealous of your new zoo docent career. It gives me something new to strive towards.

  3. Yes and put on your to do list a short e-mail with your new mailing address. Mr. Rhett is in “distress extremis” that he won’t get his gift to Miss Sophie on time.

    Big cats, little cats, all cats love boxes.
    Never mind the toys, just an empty box and a pipe cleaner is enough to entertain for hours.

    Chickafied? Oh, no-no-no-no-no.

  4. HiI I am a Detroiter and was surfing around for stories about the Ford Rotunda for an article I am writing and came across yours. What a tale! If you’d be interested in chatting with me about it, please email me at the address attached.

    (Also, loved your post about Sandra Lee. I referred to her as “pure molten evil” for a post on my blog. My husband and I TiVo her shows for later and watch them for the entertainment value and that Christmas show was the best/worst of the lot. As the mom of a two year old I can only imagine the disaster a tree like that could cause!)

  5. Will you be bringing better-than-prime-rib tamales to Florida for a snack?

    And my guess about the moth? I was at least half right, for in my view “spotted” is the same as “polka dot.” (And for that matter, butt = moth.)

    Ah, good ol’ Abby. Enjoy the youngun.

  6. I thought of you while I was at Lessons and Carols today. The college students are all arriving home, and some of them in time to take part in the program. Where they were once “Mary” or “Joseph” or the “Guiding Star” now they are all grown and reading the lessons. Anyhow, watching them with their mothers I thought about you and Abby. What lovely reunions. Enjoy your time together.

  7. I have not seen that zoo since I was about 14 years old and I would love to visit it again, especially if you were the docent who led my tour!

    Enjoy your time with Abby and have a wonderful Christmas. Rich, get over that cold and help Vicki shop!

  8. I am a chick, so I noticed nothing untoward about your latest posts. The zoo sounds interesting, and exciting in a new way. You are charged up about it, and it shows through in your writing. (or is that chickified? HA HA) Enjoy your time with Abby; Ashley is coming home for a while tomorrow, after spending time with friends. I hope it goes OK with all of us under one roof.

  9. Chickified? What’s wrong with that.

    Maybe he’s talking abou the adorable pajama photos that I loved. It was a little bit like being at a pajama party. Maybe he felt left out, or found himeself thinking about panty raids.

    Anyway, so glad your life in the city is continuing to grow and evlove and that your house will be fuller over Christmas.

  10. Vicki, your little paper trees have a place of honor on my mantel. Come and see.

    I wish you had let me reciprocate!

  11. Love the zoo posts. Of course I should have asked you about the feces-flingers, why didn’t I think of that?

    (Also, my dad used to go to restaurants and order the “soup du jour of the day.” The “song du jour of the day” thing is kind of a tribute.)

  12. I’m glad your zoo career is taking off. It must be a fascinating place. I’m tempted to make up a nonword to describe the sleeping gorillas, but I’ll just say they’re cute.

    I said “cute” … was that a chickification?

    Here’s some news: Emma has been accepted to USF and is going in the fall!

  13. That gorilla photo is precious! My five-year-old still sleeps on top of me like that. Whenever I get frustrated with him, I remember that it probably won’t last much longer. Then, of course, I’ll mourn the fact that he no longer climbs in bed with me to snuggle at 3:00 a.m.

  14. Do I get credit for noticing pictures of animals like over at Mary’s?

    P.S. Get my email?

  15. Heh. Chickafied my ass 😉 Merry Christmas chick!

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