The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Heat Exchange July 19, 2013

Hoo-kay. This is that one week that happens each year in which I begin to think that just maybe I shoulda got myself an air conditioner… Each year, though, I ride it out along with millions of other human beings, and I thank God for my super cool (albeit musty smelling) basement. Usually I can take the heat. Never lasts too terribly long. And even on the hottest of days, it can feel bearable outside as the breezes blow by. The other day, in fact, I gardened in jungle-like conditions, but found that I was enjoying myself. Even marveled at how I was chugging along. (I’m expanding our little pond and putting in a perennial garden. Being such a nature boy, lil man will likely flip when he comes home and sees it all. And I’m going to stock the pond with fish, too.)

I keep checking my indoor/outdoor thermometer, marveling at the phenomenon which happens only at this time of year: the great heat exchange. The time of year when each day it becomes much hotter inside than out. It’s interesting to watch how the two numbers move towards – and then pass – each other. This poorly-insulated 70s ranch quickly becomes a hot box as the day goes on, and it can take hours beyond nightfall until it falls again to comfortable temps. And by comfortable, I mean like 85. And the humidity? Let’s just say that even paper doesn’t behave as it should in moisture like this. It bends in a suspicious way when I hold it, and if I should try and tear it, the fibers reluctantly let go of each other in seeming slow-motion, leaving behind a fuzzy edge.

Another temperature-related fact of life in this latitude (I find Chicago’s weather just about the same, although a tad less humid) is the enormous range of temperatures that we experience in a calendar year. From a nose hair-freezing 40 below to around 100 above, it’s really impressive. And while a bit annoying in those extreme moments, it does sort of give one a feeling of resilience and dare I say pride in one’s ability to continue on in spite of the ‘hardship’. Neighbors raise a hand in greeting across a field, and the feeling of solidarity grows. We are soldiering on; tending to our daily chores (although sometimes with less vigor or thoroughness) and just keeping up with things in general – in spite of the intense heat. “Can you imagine what it was like 200 years ago?” we ask each other incredulously. At least we can jump in an air-conditioned car or pass a few hours at the mall if we really need relief. I think of those folks whose jobs keep them outside on such days (not to mention the horses! Oh those poor creatures running in Saratoga!) and feel great sympathy. And I know that a good part of the world lives in tropical heat and without the benefit of air conditioning. So I know I don’t have it bad. But still.

I won’t be leaving this musty basement for a while yet. My computer’s here, I’ve got a couch, a crappy old tv and tons of filing to do. So I’m ok. For now, I’m going to exchange floors until my indoor/outdoor thermometer shows me some more encouraging numbers.

In an unrelated Post Script: Today I have been divorced one whole year. Didn’t actually learn that I was divorced until months after the fact (pro bono representation, whatcha gonna do?) so can’t say it feels like a landmark really. Yet it is. And I can report that these days I am feeling good about things. It’s taken til the age of 50 and over five years’ distance between me and my married life for me to finally feel free, hopeful…. and dare I say, happy! Plus it’s my dear friend Randy’s birthday too. So happy day to us both, old friend!

 

Big Boat Chicago July 10, 2013

Here are some pics from our recent combined river and lake tour given by Wendella Boats (and made possible by the kindness of friend and fellow Columbia College alum, Besflores Nievera.  We can’t thank you enough!) Forgive me if it’s visual overload, but I can’t remember ever seeing the city look so good. (It’s virtually a new city since I left; the skyline has changed quite a bit.)

July 2013 trip B 146

Starting off in front of the Wrigley building…

July 2013 trip B 152

And on to Marina City… (Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup)

July 2013 trip B 159

Can you imagine? Pull your boat in, have a bite to eat then go home to your upstairs apartment. !

July 2013 trip B 181

Still can’t quite bring myself to call the ‘Sears’ tower by any other name. Whatyoutalkinbout, Willis?

July 2013 trip B 188

Wish I coulda got this entire green glass beauty at 333 Wacker Drive in one frame.

July 2013 trip B 219

Heading out through the river, South bank here. As a kid I remember this was mostly wide open space, and Lake Shore Drive passed the Outer Drive East’s glass-domed pool. Now it’s all embedded in a forest of buildings.

July 2013 trip B 240Going through the lock…

July 2013 trip B 246What a day, huh??

July 2013 trip B 221I remember when this whole area was undeveloped. There was a tiny shrimp shack nearby…. not any more.

July 2013 trip B 297Finally, on the open water of Lake Michigan! Yes!!

July 2013 trip B 249Coming around Navy Pier – where Elihu’s dad played many a concert in that domed ballroom.

July 2013 trip B 265Perfection.

July 2013 trip B 262Always a stunning sight.

July 2013 trip B 260Now looking a bit more to the South – Hancock at far right, Lake Point Tower at far left.

July 2013 trip B 292A front came in and it was nothing less than dramatic.

July 2013 trip B 308In mere minutes the wind picked up…

view 1Thrilling to watch the front move through.

July 2013 trip B 323A charming group of dentists from out of town whose company we enjoyed.

July 2013 trip B 344Heading back in…

July 2013 trip B 320Had never seen this lockhouse before. Snazzy and George Jetson-y.

July 2013 trip B 346Glowing in the storm’s eery light.

July 2013 trip B 360Trump Tower also stands out in its brilliance.

July 2013 trip B 377Happy, happy boy that afternoon!

July 2013 trip B 393Trumping it all.

July 2013 trip B 408See that building in the center?  It’s the Intercontinental Chicago Hotel on North Michigan Avenue, and there’s a pool inside the gold dome. I know because years ago Fareed and I crashed it and soon found ourselves tip-toeing around the outside balcony to evade being caught. ! A pre-911 world to be sure.

July 2013 trip B 436Here too, in the dome on the left – on the South side of the river – Fareed and I enjoyed another adventure. Uttering some made-up, Eastern European-sounding language, Fareed signed us in after hours in the lobby guestbook, flustering the poor fellow on duty, who simply watched as we swept past with an air of feigned authority. Since we’d both come from gigs, we were wearing our ‘tux and white’ ensembles, so that no doubt helped our passage. We took the elevator to the top floor, and our appearance frightened away a man who’d been cleaning. He mumbled an apology as he departed and left us alone in the giant room. We danced, we took in the view, and we thrilled to our impromptu and daring bluff.

July 2013 trip B 385Saved your life!

July 2013 trip B 429A peek in the wheelhouse to see how it works.

July 2013 trip B 431See those three flights of stairs? Nearly 100 pounds of luggage had to be lugged back up in heat, humidity and finally through a summer downpour – after our refreshing, wind-swept cruise. In spite of that, it was still one of the best afternoons ever. Certainly a day neither one of us will ever forget.