THE PEANUT GALLERY

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Kris playing Chopin on Linus' piano.

Kris playing Chopin on Linus’ piano.

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How true ...

How true …

DSC02172 DSC02169The reason Kris and I got motivated to go down (although I guess technically it’s up) to the M of S/I is because of the Charles Schultz  exhibition. We had both heard that it was good.   And it was – if you are a Peanuts fan. If you aren’t I don’t know what you’d think.

First, I did find out some things about the Museum which explained why it looked so different to us – there was a complete renovation within the past five years or so.  Which is why everything is so open and there aren’t so many boxy rooms.

Ok, back to the Schultz exhibition. We had heard that you had to stand in line to get in – but on this very rainy Tuesday, there weren’t that many people. Still, Kris got our passes before we got there. As I said, it cost $5.00 to get in and the first thing they do is one of those professional photo deals which I’ve never liked. And with everyone having phone cameras anymore, you wonder why anyone needs someone else to take their picture.  Oh, well … not a big deal.

The exhibit traced the history of Charles Schultz and showed some of his first drawings of the Peanut characters. Also told how the characters were named after real people and had some good cartoons from each decade. As I read the cartoons – again – I was reminded why he was so popular. They are children cartoon characters (appealing to children), but so much of it is adult humor.

Linus’ piano was in the middle of the floor. You could step on the keys and make music. You could also finish the “It was a dark and stormy night

DAY AT THE MUSEUM

Sometimes in our busy life, it’s good to take a day and step back from everything.

My friend Kris and I had heard about the Charles Schultz exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry and so decided to trek east and have an adventure. Though the day was pouring-down rainy, we had a good time (and I got a President’s house to add to my list – but more about that later).

I hadn’t been to the museum for a long, long time. I’m not even sure I’ve been to it since I’ve lived back here (though I went to it many times as a kid and know we brought our own kids down a couple times when we lived in Wisconsin).

So here’s some things to know about visiting the Museum of Science and Industry.

1. You won’t have trouble finding it. Go south on Lake Shore Drive and it’s right there in front of you.

2. Parking is convenient. I remember a huge outdoor parking lot, but today we parked inside (not sure the outside lot is still there). The museum wasn’t crowded so we parked right by the door. Parking is $20.00 – which I think is different from what it used to be, can’t remember. Pay attention to the location of your car – especially the level.

3. Museum admission is $18.00 – however, they do have free days. (I think every Tuesday is free.) Also there were many additional free days in January for Illinois residents. The special exhibit was $5.00 – otherwise we didn’t have to pay admission.  But beware $20.00 + $18.00 a person + money for extra exhibits can add up – so go on their website to find the freebies.

4. The museum is totally renovated and if you went a lot as a kid, you will probably not recognize much.  Everything seemed more open to me.

5. Lots of hands on for kids – and adults. We liked the shadow garden where you caught colorful petals in your hand (see picture) and we took a lot of pictures.

6. They have a tornado – fascinating to a group of school kids and funny to listen to the guide explaining that it wasn’t going anywhere – it was simply an example of a vortex. They were worried.

7. The fairy castle is still in place.

8. The walk-through heart is gone and replaced by a giant heart on the wall and if you grip the handles of the machine, the giant heart will match your own pulse, as if you’re hearing your own heart beat. Sort of weird.

9. The babies are still there. (If you have ever been to the museum, you know what I mean.)  Maybe the same babies. Not sure.

10. A couple different food places including the Brain Food Court.  A hot dog, chips and small drink were expensive, but not over the top and there were a lot of tables available. More on the Peanuts exhibit tomorrow.
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I think this had something to do with density

I think this had something to do with density

A dark and stormy day

A dark and stormy day

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Kris' prism

Kris’ prism

Pendulums

Pendulums

A prism on the ceiling

A prism on the ceiling

The tornado vortex

The tornado vortex

This is not a cake in cake pan - but rotating sand to demonstrate an avalanche

This is not a cake in cake pan – but rotating sand to demonstrate an avalanche

Shadow Garden

Shadow Garden

The fairy castle

The fairy castle

NEW YEAR’S EVE

2013 has been a good year so far – with some exciting opportunities ahead.

Of course, it got off to a great start.

As soon as we saw the ball go down in Times Square, we bundled up (I think I had on five layers) and headed outdoors. The temp was -2 and so it was cold.

The road was quiet and dark – except for a lighted wooden snowflake someone had attached to their mailbox. We found the path through the woods and the six of us made our way under the canopy of tree branches, our boots crunching in the snow.

One of the munchkins had brought along some glow sticks leftover from summer and as we walked, she threaded them into a chain. The stars blinked in the winter sky and in the distance a red glow illuminated the trees. (We don’t know what the glow was – it almost looked like Northern lights, but I did some research so I don’t think so.)

We walked out onto the lake. For a moment, Jeff had us all be still. Silence – except for an occasional crackling of the ice or a the movement of a frozen tree branch.

The mom shone down on the lake and as our eyes adjusted, we could see as if it were daylight.

The munchkins tossed the glow stick chain into the air and I thought …

What better place to start a new year than out here in the tranquil night air.

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EIGHTEEN BOOKS

IMG_0453For the past several months, whenever I was given a book to read I’d put it on the bedside table. Right before New Year’s, I piled the books to make a book tower – of 18 books. My goal is to get through the pile and watch it dwindle.

My rules …

1. Some books MUST be read from beginning to end – these are in the A category.

2. B books only need to be read two or three chapters in. If I like it, I will continue. If I don’t like it, I won’t waste my time.

3. B books must then be taken to the Half-Price Bookstore and not be put in another book pile.

Here’s how it’s going so far.

51mN7zP8sCL._AA160_1. Miss Bungle’s Book – this is an A book because it is a Christmas gift from my one and only daughter. The book was written a long time ago – but has stood the test  of time with D.E. Stevensen’s witty story about a lady who needed money and decided to write a novel (if only it were that easy). The problem was, she wrote about her town and even though she changed names, no one had a problem figuring out who was who. But Miss Bungle had written under the name John Smith, so the townspeople spent a lot of time attempting to figure out who the author really was. Meanwhile, the fictional events Miss Bungle had written about everyone’s lives began to actually happen. A good, sit-in-front-of-the-fire and relax read.

416S5PBHFBL._SL500_AA300_2. Little Women. Not that I haven’t read it before – I have – two or three times. But before Christmas, two friends and I decided we would all read it again. We had a reason which I won’t go in to here – but none of us actually got too far into the book. However, I decided to continue to reread it as penitence for picking a lilac leaf off of the bush in front of the Alcott’s Orchard House back in Concord, Massachusetts – since the house was closed.

Actually the story of Louisa May Alcott is probably not what you think (unless you know it). Her father ran a free-thinking school (think Hawthorne and Thoreau) and Louisa wrote some “free-thinking” literature which she wished to be known for. Unfortunately (in her mind) her children’s books were a lot more popular.  Alas …

The interesting aspect of my read, however, is that the book I’m actually reading is not the one pictured here but one that belonged to my mom when she was a young teen.

So what happens when I get all 18 books done? (By the way, I will not be stopping my continual flow of books from both the church and city library to read these.)

I will find another 18 books and start over. Truly. I can do that about 179 times in this house and still not run out of books.

NEW YEARS

From a city Christmas, I headed north to the woods for New Years. Where the snow is not as abundant as it usually is this time of year – but there was enough to cover the ground and make it truly seem like winter.

CHICAGO AT CHRISTMAS – AGAIN

So, once again we headed to Chicago – this time with the family – for our yearly traditional visit.

Christmas decor along State STreet

Christmas decor along State STreet

Grand Lux Cafe

Grand Lux Cafe

Disney store.

Disney store.

Hershey's

Hershey’s

Across Michigan, looking at Fourth Pres.

Across Michigan, looking at Fourth Pres.

What if John Hancock could see his building?

What if John Hancock could see his building?

Outside Watertower place looking up!

Outside Watertower place looking up!

The cupcake we shared to tide us over.

The cupcake we shared to tide us over.

Lego Wrigley - very cool.

Lego Wrigley – very cool.

Lego Chicago - very cool.

Lego Chicago – very cool.

Coolest thing yet - Stand in front of the screen an you turn into an animated Lego character.

Coolest thing yet – Stand in front of the screen an you turn into an animated Lego character.

Closeup of a tree.

Closeup of a tree.

The munchkin at Watertower Place.

The munchkin at Watertower Place.

Three dimensional Lego Chicago - very cool.

Three dimensional Lego Chicago – very cool.

CHICAGO AT CHRISTMAS

Two trips to Chicago this Christmas.

I’ve always liked the Christmas-themed city with the Salvation army bellringers, the lights, the people, the three boys sitting on the sidewalk playing their “drums” (plastic buckets) … (Oh, yeah, and the pigeons and beeping taxis and bus exhaust – but you work at blotting out the undesirable.)

Both days I was there – thousands of other people were there, too. The day the munchkin and I went down, you couldn’t even move at the Christkindlmarket. Literally. Basically we walked in one side and pushed our way out the other. Good thing we actually didn’t want to buy anything at a stall, because we couldn’t. And I truly wish Chicago would do something about the tree at the market. Rather embarrassing. Seriously, we can’t do any better than a tree that looked as if it had already dropped half its needles?

But other than that …