But, as we were alive, well, in a prosperous enough state,
...Continued from 6/26/2017:
...come Monday morning Tom and I had to absorb the news that our car, having suffered serious injuries from its attack by a free-wheeling psychotic tire (see post from 6/18/2017), would have to spend at least the next three weeks being put back together in a garage in Indiana (see post from 6/26/2017) and that we'd have to drive from Chicago home to Columbus in a rental car which we'd either have to continue renting or be a one-car couple for the next three weeks.*
But, as we were alive, well, in a prosperous enough state,
...we figured we might as well stop and smell the flowers,
And so after saying good-bye to our children, who'd been our bunk mates at the Holiday Jones over the weekend (see post from 6/20/2017),
...and have one more look at the pretty little garden.
...running into some magnificent thunderheads in Indiana,
...but, thankfully, no more crazy tires.
*After Maria and the kids left Columbus to return home to L.A., the following day we opted for the latter, the necessity of shelling out a thousand bucks having gotten our mutual goat. We are now on day 3 of being a one-car couple. We are so far managing to survive this condition.
Congressional Republicans don't get it.
They rush, race, hurry, pitch, hurl, speed, and drive themselves like maniacs to reach the finish line on a health care bill,
But it's probably all for the better, anyway. For the Congressional Republicans, that is. Because the real reason the Senate's health care bill plotzed on its elbow today, the real reason this bill makes even Republican Senators want to gag, is not so much the fact that it's just an awful bill - which it is - but that the American public knows it's an awful bill and the Senate knows that the public knows.
And yet what Congressional Republicans seem not to grasp, what they just don't get, is that the basic flaw with their health care plan, the fundamental reason why it will never, in its present form, go over with the American public, is this: The Republican health care plan is built around the principle of Americans choosing their health insurance plans. But the fact is that Americans don't want to have to chose their health insurance plans.
We don't want to have to make a choice between a cheap, crappy plan that we can afford and a good, expensive plan that we can't; we really don't want to be bothered having to shop around here, there, and everywhere among the fifty states for a decent, affordable insurance plan, trying to figure out all the ifs, ands, buts, and what-have-yous of dozens of different options with different degrees of coverage - who's got time for that? How many people won't even be able to make any sense of the whole jumbled mishmash of choices?
Look, for all our cosmetic and hard-wiring variations, we human beings are all basically the same make and model, made of the same parts and prone to the same occasional malfunctions and break-downs. Sickness and health are fluid states that we all move in and out of. For most of us medical conditions come and go. Today I'm healthy, tomorrow I'm in a car accident. Or I hurt my ACL playing a pick-up soccer game. Or I catch a retrovirus. Or I'm diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Or I get pregnant, which under the Republican plan is considered a medical condition not required to be covered by an economy insurance plan. But then I get better and I'm healthy again.
The point is, nobody wants to have to choose an insurance plan that won't cover their health care when they need it. And nobody goes without health insurance by choice. And certainly no health care provider wants to have to choose to turn down a patient whose insurance - or lack thereof - won't cover their treatment.
We all - young, old, rich, poor, healthy, not-so-healthy - just want to be able to afford to get the care we need when we're sick or injured, then we want to get better and go on about our lives.
Every other developed country in the world gets this concept and has incorporated into their social fabric a single payer, universal health plan covering all citizens.
Does our Republican Congress really not get this?
Or have their thought processes been short-circuited by an over-load of campaign contributions by the health insurance industry?
However we opted to skip the line and just bask in the magic of the wonderful experience of having seen the musical.
But as we all sat around enjoying that balmy Sunday evening, our last night together, I began to feel a nervous brewing inside, like wisps of internal storm clouds, as I realized that weekend was almost over and come Monday we were going to have to face the music to the tune of we didn't know how much money and agita,
The music arrived at 7:30 am the following morning in the ringing of Tom's cell phone, a call from the Indiana garage owner informing us that our car's under carriage was torn apart to the tune of at least $7,500 and three weeks or more in the repair shop.
So at least we knew the prognosis. And it didn't really seem so bad. After all, Tom and I reminded ourselves, we'd walked away from what could have been a terrible accident miraculously unhurt, and as for the expense...so what, really? We had the money in the bank to pay the $1,000 insurance deductible and another $1,000 for a rental car for three weeks.
In fact what troubles me most about this event, when I think about it, is the question of what we would have done if we didn't posses the means to give this story a happy ending,
...Continued from yesterday:
On Sunday Maria, Justin, Tommy, Emily, Callie, Theresa, and I caught the afternoon matinee of "Hamilton" at the PrivateBank Theatre in the Loop area of downtown Chicago,
...thanks to my daughter Claire, who managed to hook for us five of our seven Hamilton tickets. This was the second time Claire has succeeded in procuring "Hamilton" tickets from among the many thousands of Chicagoans vying to acquire them. Claire possesses excellent ticket Karma.
Guess who arrived at the theater first?
Though Tommy and Emily arrived only minutes behind us.
We got into the spirit as well.
As for "Hamilton":
The performance was all the things one hears about this musical: Beautiful. Uplifting. Inspiring. Educational. Worth the $177 price of a ticket.
And though I'd listened to the "Hamilton" soundtrack dozens of times, knew every word and could have sung along with every song - and did sing along with a couple of them, as did others in the audience - I was amazed at how, seeing and hearing it performed live, this musical sprung to life for me in a whole new and wonderful way in the powerful voices of the singers, the beautiful harmonizations, arias, use of counterpoint, the complex rhythms, the dancers, the clarity of the orchestra music, and, of course, seeing played out with real people a story that up until now I'd only been seeing in my mind, all done to perfection, not a missed beat, step, or line.
But something else I took away from this performance of "Hamilton" was a feeling of gratitude that in this day and age when children in this country are programed to value above all careers in technology, medicine and business, when they're pushed by parents to excel in sports while their art and music education languishes, when the arts and music are the first subjects to be axed on the altar of education budgeting because our society as a whole does not value these subjects, it's a miraculous wonder that children in this country still grow up to become professional singers, dancers, musicians, choreographers, set designers, costume-makers, composers, writers, and directors of the caliber that can produce a masterpiece such as "Hamilton."
Most of the cast of "Hamilton" were people of color,
...which also made me wonder:
After "Hamilton," who will compose the next great musical opportunity for brilliant performers of color?
...Continued from yesterday:
Saturday morning started out, as mornings do, with breakfast.
Tom and I opted for the hostel's complementary help-yourself breakfast offered in the common room located in the basement.
Views from the landings windows:
The common room was crowded with hostelers from a variety of different countries,
Besides breakfast, the Holiday Jones common room offered a number of other amenities:
While Tom and I were enjoying our complementary hostel breakfast, the others of our room mates,
...decided to try some empanadas from 5411 Empanadas,
...and Emily, Tommy, Callie and Theresa were in consensus that they were as yummy as they looked.
After breakfast Tommy, Emily, Theresa and Callie left for the Navy Pier - Theresa and Callie via subway, Tommy and Emily on foot - where they planned to meet up with Maria, Justin, and the children.
Tom and I, meanwhile, planned to drive over to Claire's house in Logan square, the next neighborhood over from Wicker Park, to help her with the shopping and food preparation for the cookout that evening.
As the nearest parking spot we'd been able to find in that busy part of Chicago was several blocks from the Holiday Jones,
By the time Tom and I arrived at Claire’s house it was close enough to lunch time that we decided to get lunch out of the way before getting to work on the preparations for the cook-out.
Tom and I both ordered a Cubano,
Next we drove to Aldi’s to buy the necessary cookout provisions.
When we arrived back at Claire’s house Tom and I dove into making Cherry Almond Streusel and apple pies.
Cherry Almond Streusel Pie being one of the best things one can put into one's mouth, I will once again share the recipe:
Cherry Almond Streusel Pie
2 cans of tart red cherries.
2 tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 9-inch unbaked refrigerated roll-out pie crust
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Drain one can of cherries and mix it with the other can of cherries with the juice from that can. Mix the cherries and juice with the tapioca, sugar, and cinnamon. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Mix the flour and brown sugar then cut the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture is crumbly. Mix in the almonds.
Roll out the pie crust, place it in a 9-inch pie pan and spread the cherry mixture into the pie crust. Spoon the streusel mixture over the cherries.
Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and topping well-browned.
As our children and grand children arrived from their day excursions they began pitching in with the food preparation,
...and the festivities began,
While we stood together for Jen to take a family portrait, I wondered, how long will it be until the next time we're all together again?
To be continued...
...Continued from 6/18/2017:
It was around 10 pm Friday night when Tom and I came rolling into Chicago, tired but grateful to be alive and well (see post from 6/18/2017) for our reunion weekend with our children and grandchildren.
The rest of us,
…were driving or flying into Chicago from Ohio.
I’d made arrangements for us to stay at a new hostel -
The plan had been that we'd all meet up at Holiday Jones at around 4 pm on Friday afternoon then go out somewhere for dinner.
..and by the time Tom and I arrived the others had long ago checked in and dispersed, joining the crowds of young people populating the streets of Wicker Park on a pleasant Friday summer evening.
Anyway, when Tom and I finally made it to Holiday Jones,
...we were warmly welcomed, despite the late hour, by Mike, the friendly, helpful youngster manning the reception desk,
Our desk host Mike insisted on carrying my suitcase for me as he walked us to our room on the third floor,
I’d reserved for us a 6-person room with our own bathroom,
...though we found the community bathrooms to be as nice as our private bathroom.
Generally speaking, hostel community bathrooms tend to be a mixed bag consisting of some of the bathrooms being just a toilet and sink or sometimes just a toilet, some being just a shower, and some being a full toilet-sink-shower combo. At Holiday Jones every bathroom in the building is a toilet-sink-shower bathroom and the bathrooms were plentiful, which is really nice, as any hosteler would agree.
And the bathrooms were spotlessly clean, as was the rest of the place. And the beds and pillows were super-comfy. And the air-conditioning set at the sweet-spot of cool.
"Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you," said Mike after bringing me the extra pillow that I requested. I thanked him and told him we were good.
At that moment, thankfully safe and sound, comfortable in my cozy bottom bunk and all settled in for the night, I couldn't have been better in a luxury suite at the Plaza.
To be continued...
I've never seen "Rubber," however on Friday afternoon Tom and I had had a run-in ― literally ― with a tire that could well have been the incarnation of Robert.
We were driving from Columbus to Chicago for a family reunion. All our children were likewise traveling from their respective four corners to Chicago,
This was to be one of the rare occasions when all our children, their spouses, and their children would be together, and we were all greatly anticipating this weekend.
Around 1 pm Tom and I were driving west through Indiana on Interstate 70, about fifteen miles east of Indianapolis, enjoying the bright blue skies and the pastoral scenery of the Midwestern heartland,
...when, from out of nowhere that we could perceive, bounced onto the road a larger-than-average tire, maybe the tire of a jeep or van.
Moving at high speed, this tire first bounced into the car in front of us, taking out the car's right front tire; then it bounced off that car and sped straight for us.
My initial thought, in the second or two I watched this tire speed-bouncing towards our car then lunging at us like some live wild thing, was, This isn't happening. But happening it was.
At the moment of impact ― the tire bouncing beneath the front end rather than onto the hood, for which we'd later be thanking God ― our car was thrown several feet into the air; but, rather than flipping over as it apparently should have, our car landed flat on its four tires and, miraculously - and unlike the unfortunate car in front of us that was hit in the front tire - we were able to drive away, shaken but unharmed.
But not too far. We could smell what we thought was gasoline - turned out to be antifreeze - but in a second instance of good fortune following bad, our tire-attack occurred about 1000 feet from the exit ramp to a truck stop.
As we pulled into the parking area another car pulled up next to us. A Good Samaritan who'd witnessed the event had followed us, concerned that we might have been hurt.
"You know your car flew four feet into the air?" he asked, recounting the exact details of what he'd seen.
In truth at that moment I was drawing a blank on exactly what had happened. Tom was breathing a little hard. I think we were both in a little shock.
But we now faced the task at hand of getting our car repaired and/or making our way to Chicago. Our Good Samaritan told us there was an auto repair shop a few miles down the road and suggested that if a small leak in the antifreeze line were all we'd suffered we might be able to refill the antifreeze unit then make it to that shop.
"You know you need to be thanking God and all His angels," he told us. I assured him that we were and gave him a long hug.
...but for naught.
So Tom called AAA and spoke to a friendly and very sympathetic agent who also offered her gratitude that we were alive and well. The agent apologized that it would be at least 90 minutes before a tow truck would arrive for us, but suggested that in the meantime he call Jenkins Auto Repair,
Tom called Jenkins and was told by the owner - who, like his predecessors, marveled that we were still alive and uninjured - that we could bring the car in but that no one could look at it until Monday. He suggested that we leave our car with him and rent a car for the weekend from the Enterprise Rental down the block from his garage.
And so that became our battle plan.
Now that the necessary business was taken care of Tom and I had an hour or so to wait around at the truck stop store.
After replaying the utter random bizarreness of the catastrophe we'd just escaped, the split second that could have caused the tire to bounce through the windshield instead of under the carriage, or could have flipped the car or just as likely have missed us altogether, we concluded that suffering a mishap can leave one feeling more lucky to be unharmed than unlucky for what happened in the first place; and that even an ensuing set-back can seem like not much in view of how terrible the outcome could have been.
Anyway, Tom and I both decided it was best not to to talk or think about the "What could have beens" and just carry on.
We were eventually picked up by a nice AAA tow-truck driver,
...who reminded us how lucky we were to be alive,
For being located in a small town this Enterprise was surprisingly busy. The manager, who also expressed relief that we were alive and well, told us that it would likely be a couple of hours ―- around 6 pm ― before a car would be available for us.
So we spent the hours strolling around the (mostly) pleasant little town of Greenfield, Indiana.
And so we picked up from where we'd left off 4 hours earlier, not sure what the diagnosis would be come Monday for our poor traumatized car, or when or how we'd get back to Columbus, but determined to forget about all that for now and head for Chicago, which we reached around 10 pm,
To be continued...
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...Continued from yesterday:
Though there's been much controversy and some protest over the Public Theater's production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" in which Caesar is portrayed to resemble Donald Trump, we all know that in truth this production is only a great flight of a director's imagination; Donald Trump is no Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar was, after all, a great military general and war hero as well as a prolific writer of military histories, including his commentaries of the Gallic wars (which I had to study in my junior year of high school Latin class and the opening line of which I remember to this day: "Omes Gallia in tres partes divisa est").
Caesar spent most of his career in public office, and though he eventually grabbed power from his political opponents whereby he set himself up as Dictator for Life, facilitating the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire, his rule was beneficial to his country.
According to biography.com/julius caesar:
For Caesar and his countrymen, his rule proved instrumental in reforming Rome.
He would serve just a year's term before his assassination, but in that short period Caesar greatly transformed the empire. He relieved debt and reformed the Senate by increasing its size and opening it up so that it better represented Romans as a whole. He reformed the Roman calendar and reorganized how local government was constructed. In addition he resurrected two city-states, Carthage and Corinth, which had been destroyed by his predecessors, and he granted citizenship to a number of foreigners. He also proved to be a benevolent victor by inviting some of his defeated rivals to join him in the government.
Donald Trump more resembles a different Caesar, Caesar Augustus Germanicus, who became the Roman Emperor known as Caligula.
Caligula was a spoiled child who grew up pampered with wealth and status and into the psychotic Roman Emperor who
kept his subjects alternately entertained by his hijinks and terrified by his tantrums.
While Caligula's supporters thrived on his outrageous and shocking behavior, the rest of Rome, its citizens' sensibilities over-exposed to to the glut of scandal and drama he churned out on a daily basis, came to accept Caligula's misconduct and misgovernance as the norm.
During his four years as Emperor Caligula aggravated most of the populace, launched an expensive war, drained the Roman treasury and, by his ineptitude as a leader, ran the Roman Empire into the ground.
After four years Caligula's term as Emperor ended when he was assassinated by the Pretorian Guard, the elite military officers who were the Roman equivalent of the Secret Service.
Thank God we live in a democracy.
And if Donald Trump is miffed at being portrayed in "Julius Caesar," he should be thankful that Shakespeare never wrote a "Caligula."
There's been a passel of public outrage - most of it from the right-wing media - over the current production at New York's Public Theater of William Shakespeare's play, "Julius Caesar" in which Julius Caesar resembles Donald Trump,
The controversy arises over the scene in Act 3 when Julius Caesar is assassinated by the senators, which Donald Trump's supporters interpret as an effigial knocking off of the President by the artistic community which, by the way, will lose its funding when Trump takes an ax to the National Endowment for the Arts as he's promised to do in his 2018 budget, so maybe this "Julius Caesar" is just sort of a tit-for-tat thing.
As for me, all right, I'll admit I'd like to see the Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar" as well as the Obama-as-Caesar production, though I'll also admit that it's not because I've ever had a thing for "Julius Caesar" - in truth all I can recall about that play from when I studied it in college is thinking at the time of the reluctant assassin Brutus, man, that poor schmoe got used big time!
No, I'd like to see the two productions just to be able to witness the brilliance of a play written over 400 years ago that can still be made relevant to almost any era and political climate, as Shakepeare himself must have understood about his work when he had one of the characters in "Julius Caesar" proclaim: "How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown?"
So amazing that it's eerie, isn't it?
Sigh. So I guess I'm the only person on the planet who wasn't wowed by the record-breaking blockbuster movie that has critics swooning and has knocked the socks off theater ticket sales world-wide.
I saw "Wonder Woman" last Friday evening and, for the almost two-and-a-half hours I sat watching, I kept waiting for this movie that was supposed to be The Movie To End All Movies to engage me, pull me in, take me away, but it just didn't.
Too often the characters' motivations for their actions were unclear to me. And for all the action and special effects, I thought there was a lack of dramatic tension. Somehow it just didn't pop.
Not that I didn't appreciate some of "Wonder Woman's" principle motifs.
I liked the mythological references, in theory, except that the whole mythological origins thing never did quite coalesce for me - how exactly was Wonder Woman created? Why exactly was her mother opposed to her becoming what she was created for? Why didn't any of the Amazons let her know what she was created for? In fact, what exactly were all the Amazons doing on that island, anyway? None of the half-explanations of things were ever really clear to me, including the Ares, God of War thing.
Though, again, I did in theory like the Ares, God of War thing, as well as the World War I backdrop; I just found the connection between the two a bit confusing and not fully formed, like everything else in the movie,
But the movie's subplot of the God of War (maybe) being behind The War to End All Wars,
...did make me think of the connection that musicologists have made between the the musical composition, "Mars, The Bringer of War," by Gustav Holst, written sometime between 1914 and 1916, and the terror of mechanized warfare that was unleashed on the world during World War I and evoked by Holst's music.
In fact if you've never heard it, here's a link to a Youtube recording of Holst's "Mars, The Bringer of War."
Does "Mars, The Bringer of War" not sound like World War I?
Too bad the director of "Wonder Woman" didn't use "Mars, The Bringer Of War," for the movie's soundtrack, it's such great war music.
But I guess "Wonder Woman" didn't need Gustav Holst's music to break all theater attendance records its opening weekend when it had
...which they're telling us is making women everywhere feel empowered.
I don't know. Watching "Wonder Woman" didn't make me feel particularly empowered. Just a little bored.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.