Archive for the ‘bathroom’ Category

I awakened about 9:30 after one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months. The location was Peter and Byung’s office-turned-guestroom on the ground floor of their condo, a scant 15 feet from the guest bathroom with the night light above the vanity. I had said my goodnights to my hosts and their friend Chris, a delightful woman whom I thought might go out with me if two of us lived in the same city. She was so charming that before I toddled down to the guest room with a final nightcap of all the Sauterne wine I could pour into a medium-size glass without likely spilling any, I gave her a copy of my book Confluence of Legends. It was third of three I parted with during my visit, the second of two I gave away.  I was so at peace with the world that I almost forgot about the pair of shorts (Fruit of the Loom if you must know) I had packed for the excursion. I did, in fact, think of them. I considered the circumstance. I hadn’t perspired much over the last day. Everything in the shortsall area was commendably clean and un-offensively scented. “What the hell?” I said to myself. “I’ll save these shorts for Monday.” And I did

!Peter had invited me to come upstairs to their living room and read when I was ready to meet the day, explaining he is a “night person (as is Byung) and would not likely join me until pretty well into the morning. I was fine with that. While waiting, I finished the Mozart biography I had started the day before on the train. It was a small book. Peter and I were munching sliced apple and sipping coffee by 11.
Then it was time to roll. I can’t remember the names of the main roads traveled but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Peter had not taken a liking to me when I recited at Vachel Lindsay’s house in October 2010, I would have passed to dust having never shared this vista on a Sunday morning in Chicago. I consider Peter to be the A.J. Foyt, the Mario Andretti, the Sterling Moss of high-speed driving!
The second picture here has been slightly retouched.

First stop on the day’s itinerary was the Chicago Zoo.
PP1216-5This part of the zoo is a small farm which is there to educate children of Chicago who will never see a farm: denizens of the city deep, who will never travel to rural USA far removed from a four-lane highway. I know this because Peter is a Chicago historian and tour guide for hire among other laudable attributes.
PP1216-4  PP1216-3

We parked in a free parking curbside area near the lakefront. “On a clear day, you can see Indiana from here,” he explained. I was happy to see the lake; mad a memo to self to see more of it after the weather warms.  The zoo was closed for the winter, but the walking paths we well engaged by many on foot.

From this board walk, visitors in summer rent paddleboats to putter around a large, sheltered pond close to Lake Michigan. This area is part of Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
One way to be certain you’re in Lincoln Park is this statue of Ulysses Grant on horseback close to the lake. At Chicago’s Grant Park, they boast a fine statue of Lincoln so visitors will know they’re in Grant park. This is a long telephoto pic, and I would looooooove to spend an entire morning or afternoon roaming this territory and getting close to Grant’s statue and beachfront.
Another way to know you’re in Lincoln Park is this statue of Benjamin Franklin. That’s Peter posing for a picture he probably never thought would appear in this blog. The morning was chillier than I looks here. We were walking into a moderate headwind. It was good to know that the return to the car would be helped by  a tailwind.


Mr Franklin was in good spirits. Must have been his hardy Boston lifestyle!

We were heading for the Chicago History Museum, a major attraction which should be on every visitor’s itinerary. It’s across the street from a major evangelist’s church, a beautiful brown stone complex with a sanctuary that seats about 3,000, Peter explained. He knew that the Sunday service had concluded shortly before we arrived on the museum side of the street, and he was curious about the place. So was I. There were still many attendees exiting the building after socializing, and the atmosphere was incredibly warm. Not a frown to be seen. We had no trouble entering that famous sanctuary and taking a few pictures. No one approached us and asked who we were or the purpose for our visit. Everyone was focused on their reason for being there; not ours.

I could have spent an hour photographing the sanctuary.


PP1216-13This is the view of the Chicago History Museum from the front of the church.

Photography inside the museum is a challenge because of  the contrasting bright lights and moderate overall ambient light. Human eyes adjust to it better than cameras, but the displays are a real “tour de force” not only of Chicago, but of the culture of the USA as well.


The woman is reading a very interesting, nutshell chronology of the land and the city. I knew the instant I saw her that I wanted to photograph her, but she was moving to the right faster than I hoped.  I neither know nor care what the door is on the right, and I know it’s a visual “ersatz element in this picture, but I did not want to interrupt her to ask her to “pose” for a picture more to the left.  I would have lost the authentic moment, and I do like how she stood at this fleeting half a second as she read the text on the wall.

My true “photo harvest” from the museum came as we approached the stairway to the ground floor.

The second picture is from the same position at the top as the first, but I stood closer to the edge to reveal the poster.


Looking back up in the direction from whence we came.
A final savoring of line and form.
PP1216-20Visible to the right of the fountain (closed for the winter) is the Chicago History Museum. Across the street is Ellie’s where we ate a fantastic lunch. It was terrific.


A last look at a memorable museum.

I had a train to catch (that would depart Union Station) at 5:15, and we wanted to be arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare. En route back to Peter’s car — in fact almost across the street from it in Lincoln Park — we encountered this steel sculpture, another amazing presence . . .

A pose of the wayfaring folkslinger (photo by host Peter). With Peter’s talent at the wheel, the trip to the station was a breeze.
PP1216-25Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

Coming next on Return to Chi’ (or) I Didn’t Even Change My Shorts,  I have a picture perfect return to my home town as a sobering story unfolds before my ears. Look for it Sunday.


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I want to die the way Elvis died. I know this is not the way most H & Q readers would choose, so let me give you my perspective, and maybe you will agree.

My fondest hope is to die in pleasant surroundings. I am pleasantly surrounded in my home’s bathroom. There is always the aroma of bar soap on the little shelf in the shower. Recently, I came to the end of an almost three-year experience with a soap called Safeguard. I remembered it fondly from my 20s, but I discovered after I purchased NINE BARS it that the soap had changed in shape, scent, and satisfaction. The new version (current version, I believe, so buyer beware) disappointed me with every shower. So last week, I replaced it with the new Dial for MEN bar soap, I like the new soap a lot. I purchased it ONLY because no matter where I shop for groceries, I cannot find my all-time FAVORITE soap which disappeared from the supermarkets I shop and resulted in three years of ho-hum new Safeguard, I am looking high and low and cannot find Lifebouy in the BLUE BAR.  THAT, my friends, second only to the original Safeguard, was a terrific bar soap. If you know where I can purchase more of it, please let me know. . . . . . but I digress . . . . .

As I was saying. my bathroom is a pleasant place.  Only the scent of an affectionate woman could make it any more pleasant. Even so, often the aroma of a still-wet towel from the Saturday shower soothes me like the fragrance of old-old paper rising from newly opened old-old books. I suspect Elvis felt the same about his.

I do not want to be drug-addled as Elvis was if I die in my bathroom. The way he died appeals to me. He was having a hard time letting go, so to speak. If he had taken a laxative, Elvis might be alive today.  Using his lower abdominal muscles to “force the issue,” as they say, the increase in blood pressure in his head caused a brain aneurism. He likely experienced a searing headache leaned forward, fell off the “throne” and came to rest in a semi-sitting pose on his side with trousers still around his ankles.

While writing this post, I searched the Web for details of his death, and I must confess, a brain aneurism isn’t mentioned in any of what I read. Constipation was a factor. This affliction is something I would have to develop because I think I was 11 years old the most recent time it was an issue. And with friends like mine, who needs enemas?

Still, a brain aneurism would not be a bad way to go. So Elvis or no Elvis,  I’m stickin’ to that demise scenario in my bathroom.

It appeals because the end would come quickly. Even if I vomited as Elvis did (they found him in a small pool of vomit which experts in the vomit field diagnosed as having come from the inner workings of “the king of rock’n’roll.” Knowing I would not have to awaken later in the mess, as I went, I would not begrudge myself leaving a little on the floor on the way “out.” By the time anyone would find me in my home’s bathroom, with doors locked from the inside as they usually are, considering my social life. Suggesting the term “near nil” to describe it is gross grandiosely flattering HY-freaking-PERBOLE), considering how it would probably take three months for enough conventional mail to accumulate in my front porch mailbox for the postman to consider calling the police and coroner, I think the bile and foody bits would be long-since dried; but my body . . . not so much. As a man who hates to go more than a few days between showers, I would hate to encounter me on my bathroom floor two months after my last one!

Another positive about being single — not that you asked — is that any kind of serious distress I encounter at home — away from playing and singing my songs, away from poetry readings and Vachel Lindsay recitations, away from my aviation museum and my employer — is likely to be my last serious distress. I won’t be “clinging to life” in an ICU at hospital — not that anyone would admit me after they examine my financial health.

Dying like Elvis simply seems a tidy way to go — not that it’s part of my “to do list” for awhile. Still, as my hero Ringo Starr once wrote, “tomorrow never knows.”

Don’t give this post a second thought, It was a humorous idea when I began writing it. Now . . . not so much.

Live looooooooooooooong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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A visitor from California by way of Blakesburg, Iowa is due about the time I usually wrote my A’ching 65 posts, so I’ve just finished my lunch (Payday candy bar, my only certain “payday” in too long) after a morning of SOLID focus in the Research Room upstairs, a friendly conversation with a husband and wife flight crew with NetJets, and some logging of digital images on CDs. It’s cool here in the ground floor office, thanks to the air conditioning, but honestly, I was okay with the temperature upstairs — had to be 85 with 99% humidity; sure felt like it.  I think, as I approach 65, I’m becoming more Zen in my take on life. It’s the acceptance of minor trifles, an attitude of what some residents of the USA would call “What will be, sera.” Take my bathroom sink — please!

Before my friend David Tabb moved to Indianapolis, he talked me through the process of changing the faucet washer (something like that) in my bathroom. He had purchased a small box of these rubber things at Ace Hardware for something like $1.23, and that box, minus ONE, is still in the sink-back medicine cabinet where I put it in 2006 or so when David last visited. Less than a year after replaced the washer, I started having to apply real pressure to prevent the drip action from the hot water side of the sink. Last year, the cold water side began to drip. Unfortunately, David was happy in Indy and I wasn’t going to call a plumber to fix dripping faucets.

Then about last January, I surrendered to the water trifle when I turned both faucets so hard OFF that I they dripped nothing and I left them that way. My toilet is similarly afflicted. As long as I keep the heavy porcelain top off the water tank, I can hear and see no water flowing after the tank has refilled from a flush. The top has decorated my bathroom floor, instead of the top of my toilet, since about last October. Nobody ever visits me at home, these days, but if Jack Frost starts working his magic in Hell and someone does, I will graciously return tank top to is rightful location and loosen the faucet handles  so the little room can accommodate all comers . . . and goers.

It’s not as much an inconvenience as you may think. I brush my teeth at the kitchen sink. On the rare three to six days between showers when I need to wash my face, I do it in the kitchen. My wash cloth and towel hang on the handle I use to open the oven. I might just as well make a linen closet out of the inside of the oven because I have not used the oven since Gore ran for president, maybe before that.

If it weren’t for the shower, I’d hardly ever use my own bathroom. About 90% of the time, the public restrooms at my employer and at the airport suffice. These are times I appreciate living alone. I would not dare require this kind of compromise with another hummin’ bean in the house. I’m too nice for that . . . and I’m sure it would be tolerated just one time before I heard the cacophony of bags being packed for hasty changing of address.

The sum total of the circumstance suggests about “a D-minus life,” and I’m okay with that. I’m Zen with that. I like Zen. If I were afraid of Zen, I’d be Zenophobic, and I would never be that.  At least not to a legal citizen of the United Snakes of America.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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