Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!
The Monet Immersive Exhibit provided many gorgeous tableaus. Dinner at La Cite atop Lake Point Tower was a gorgeous vantage point to view the city of Chicago.
The Germanium Club up north was totally taken over to facilitate the showing of Monet’s impressionistic works. It is a lovely display area, with the ability to purchase a glass of Prosecco to carry into the exhibit, but there are a lot of stairs. Visitors can lounge on banquettes or sit in a few folding chairs and there is a balcony, if you want to view the art work from above.
Following the Exhibit, we walked to the Corcoran Bar & Grill, in honor of my maiden name, and a lovely young lass from Galway, Ireland, waited on us.
Then it was home to the South Loop to watch a film. We actually used my CD collection and saved the $3.99 rental fee on Netflix.
I’ve been in Chicago for a few days and have discovered that this may be one of the coolest cities of those I track. It was 101 in Austin (Tx), but my son and family were here with me. It was 100 in Nashville, but, likewise, my daughter flew in to join the group of 7 of us celebrating my birthday and attending a concert at Wrigley Field. The Chris Stapleton fans did that on Saturday night.
We also managed to have a wonderful dinner on the 70th floor of the Lake Point Tower restaurant,with a phenomenal view of the city and, afterwards, we were able to stroll over to Navy Pier and check on the fantastic growth of the small trees mid-plaza. I think it’s been a while since I hit Navy Pier and the trees have really matured.
Lastly, Stacey, Ava and Elise and Craig attended the Monet Immersive Exhibit with me and we dined, afterwards, at Corcoran’s Bar & Grill. Expect to see pictures from the fantastic Monet Exhibit for some time, as I took so many that my new phone may be full. We had taken in the Van Gogh Exhibit, and this one was just as impressive.
So, with those explanations, here are some photos from Wednesday through Saturday.
At the Germanium Club and the Monet Immersive Exhibit.
I’m going to be “in transit” today (and probably tomorrow) but here are some Gratitude Quotes to entertain, They say that writing down 3 things you are grateful for nightly can “re-set” your expectations. Here are some starters from some famous folk:
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. — Cicero
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. — Melody Beattie, author
Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. — Maya Angelou
Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. — Eckhart Tolle
Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time. — Dale Dauten, business coach
Your bounty is beyond my speaking. But though my mouth be dumb, my heart shall thank you. — Nicholas Rowe, writer
Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. — Karl Barth, theologian
O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness! — William Shakespeare
When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. — Willie Nelson
I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots. — Oprah Winfrey
I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. — Henry David Thoreau
Time in Austin is dwindling and the return to the Midwest is upon us.
As a result we journeyed out to my favorite downtown restaurant, The Roaring Fork. I don’t often post pictures of food, but I’m going to post a picture of the dining room, the bar, and my favorite dish on the menu, the chicken with dressing and green beans, which retails for around $24 and is delicious!
When we headed downtown, we had planned to stroll around after dinner and see what might be going on downtown, but when the temperature hit 108 and it was still 95 degrees at 9 p.m., that plan died a grisly death.
The other random topic I want to address is the Minions fad of dressing up to attend the new Minions movie.
The Roaring Fork, Austin, Texas.
It immediately reminded me of a long-ago field trip with my class at Silvis Junior High School. We were going to be sharing the movie auditorium with another junior high school (John Deere Junior High) and I wanted my students to behave. It had not escaped my attention that the day we were set to make the field trip was also the day that our school normally had something called Dress Up Day.
So, on the blackboard of my classroom, I wrote “DUD Day” and explained that that meant Dress Up for Deere day.
The kids got behind the idea and showed up looking like they were going to Sunday church or out on a fancy date. The girls looked lovely; the boys were also dressed like those attending the Minions movie that I’ve seen. My students were very well-behaved, and I think their attire was part of that equation. John Deere Junior High’s? Not so much.
I was never so proud of my wonderful students as when they got behind the idea of DUD Day and behaved like the ladies and gentlemen I knew they could be. They were on their best behavior.
I think dressing up for movies and other formal occasions–something my generation did as a matter of course—is a wonderful idea. It’s nice to know that it’s not totally dead, even if the dressing up, this time, is for a totally digital online fad/reason. (And no throwing bananas if you’re dressed up at the Minions movie!)
The Texas heat is still here (it will feel like 105 tomorrow), but at least we don’t have the storms that seem to be hitting the Midwest.
The last of the Family Fest revelers will be leaving tomorrow at 9 a.m.
We are here through July 11th and I have a desire to dine at the Roaring Fork at least once before we go back to the Midwest.
Beyond that, our euchre club meets on Wednesdays and that might beckon tomorrow.
The last 5 days have been very hot, but very event-filled. Kudos to the son and daughter-in-law, who put it all together.
I began doing some research on the driver’s license renewal laws for Illinois versus Iowa versus Texas. There is no real reason for this, other than I will have to renew mine in 2024 (I renewed it last year) and I was curious. Perhaps you will find this as interesting as I did.
Illinois: In Illinois, if you are past 75, you have to drive with the driver’s license examiner in the car and you only get a license for 2 years. Naturally, vision tests and insurance proof are required. I also would mention that the minimum wage in Illinois is $12.00.
Iowa: In Iowa—where the minimum wage is $7.25, just what it was when I owned 2 busineses back in the 80s, 90s and through 2003—you get a 2-year license, but you have to show up in person and take a vision screening (and, sometimes, a written test). You do not have to drive with the examiner every time.
Texas: In Texas, between the ages of 79 and 85 you get a 6-year license. You can renew it online. There may be a vision screening/written test, but there is no driving with the examiner requirement. The minimum wage is $7.25. So now you know.
Connie, Stacey, Craig and (nephew) Michael Wilson at the outdoor Armadillo Bar in Austin, Texas, on July 3, 2022.
Front row: Stacey Wilson, Ava Wilson, Elise Wilson ad Aaron Eddy (in glasses). Rachel (girlfriend) and Michael Wilson (full beard). Jessica Wilson in center, wearing hat. Owen Castelein (9 years old) next to his father Chris Castelein (my nephew on the Corcoran side). Scott Wilson with hand up (the host); Hannah Wilson Poffenbarger (glasses on head in center). Megan Wilson Eddy with baby Winnie; Matt Wilson and Mark Wilson; Regina Wilson Nelson; Samantha Liss Wilson (back right, mouth open, hat on head). Sophia Castelein, daughter of Chris (above Jess’s hat). Standing on steps to pool: Craig and Connie Wilson. Standing, clothed, by pool’s edge: Steve Nelson.
Celebrants traveled from Denver, St. Louis, Nashville, the IA/IL Quad Cities, and from the local neighborhood of Austin, Texas, to add up to, at times, a total of close to 30 Wilsons and friends, celebrating the Fourth of July with delicious home-cooked brisket, ribs, sausage and side dishes with an active slate of competitions, including bags tournaments, a new Skip-and-Toss in-pool game, pool volleyball, foosball, and (at a nearby Armadillo Garden bar night), a game involving hooking a metal loop onto a hook.
The temperatures were near 100 degrees and that sounds as though it stretched across the U.S., as friends I spoke with in Des Moines and Minneapolis were complaining about the excessive heat, as well.
Big debts of gratitude are owed the host and hostess of the event, Scott and Jessica Wilson, who had 13 people sleeping at their house at one point. My small ranch hosted two of the guests, and a For-Rent-By-Owner house with 3 bedrooms housed most of the 8 people from St. Louis who flew in.
Along with the back yard festivities a water park and a go-kart track have been scheduled into the mix and, in other years, we rented a traveling bar and peddled it around town, took the Austin bat cruise at night, and rented a pontoon boat for floating on a nearby lake. All-in-all, it sounds like a massive undertaking to bring all the elements to fruition at the right time and in the right sequence, and when you add in at least 6 school-age children of various ages and an 11-month old baby about to turn one on August 23rd, satisfying everyone’s expectations for the holiday is quite a chore.
In a previous pre-pandemic year the fireworks, visible from the house driveway, were spectacular, but the dry conditions existing in this area now brought many words of caution regarding the locals setting off fireworks. While we could hear fireworks, we really couldn’t see that many and ended up watching fireworks mostly on television.
Daughter Stacey; Granddaughters Elise (with baby Winnie) and Ava Wilson.
The news of the Highland Park Massacre of spectators at a Fourth of July parade in their downtown area was a constant background noise. We held this event—mostly outdoors—during the pandemic and barely left the house that year. With the violence in this country extending to malls, houses of worship, concerts, parades and other gatherings, one wonders if staying away from crowds at all times is going to become de rigeur The first thing I said to my husband after the Highland Park massacre was that my literary agent lives in nearby Deerfield and that the towns, like Skokie, Illinois, have a sizable Jewish population. I wondered if this kind of hate crime was a factor?
Just a moment ago, on CNN, a local rabbi appeared, supposedly to share an encounter he had had with the shooter in the months before the cowardly attack, but the rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz had been told not to talk about his April encounter with the accused shooter. It’s a sad commentary that this rabbi sketched how his religious group has to have armed guards (off duty policemen) and other synagogue members who are legally armed to protect worshipers in America from violence.
Those who know the history of the Holocaust know that Hitler made the Jews and gypsies the whipping boys and girls for his subsequent crimes and it is tragic to think that people who merely want to pray have to be protected against acts of random violence.
Cousins Chris Castelein (Hiawatha, IA), and host Scott Wilson (Brodie Springs, Austin, Tx). Chris and Scott were college roomnates and Chris was Best Man in Scott’s wedding 20 years ago.
Although this event injected a note of extreme sadness into the otherwise joyous weekend, this event in the very community where the films “Risky Business,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and “Home Alone” were filmed will remain linked with this year’s Family Fest.
This one is in the books and hats off to the Chief Organizers (Scott & Jessica) who put up with the presence of 21 family members, plus others, for periods of up to a week. Most began drifting out on the actual Fourth of July and the remnants of the party group, with the exception of Yours Truly, who will be here until July 11th have now properly celebrated our nation’s birthday. Since we’re in Texas and one never knows what the Texans will want to do about remaining in the United States (of America), this is one for the books and here is an Emily Dickinson quote that seems appropriate.
The Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum in the distance.
We begin the journey to the Family Fest in Austin, Texas, at 10:30 p.m. tonight.
We will leave for Midway at 6:45 p.m. because the reports say this is going to be “the busiest travel day of the year.” We are not sure why this day would beat Christmas or Thanksgiving or any of the bigger holidays, but we are aware that we may end up right back here, enjoying the view from my condo and sleeping here, if something goes awry.
Meanwhile, the temperature here has dropped slightly into the eighties, while the temperature in Austin has not. We hope it doesn’t rain, as that appears to be a possibility for tomorrow, Friday, July 1st, my sister’s birthday.
Twenty-two out-of-towners are making the trip and some of the locals will join us, so it should be a good time—if we all make it. I will have all bedrooms at my house full and, since it is a winter home, we are hoping that we have enough sheets for the blow-up queen-sized bed. (The king-sized guest bedroom is good to go.)
Cities represented will include St. Louis, Denver, Nashville, Moline, East Moline, Hiawatha (IA) and the Austin locals.
As described yesterday, we struck off for Memorial Day in Chicago on Friday, May 28th.
Museum of Science & Industry
Museum of Science & Industry
Museum of Science & Industry
Museum of Science & Industry, Memorial Day, 2022.
Easter Island face, from Legos.
Stacey provides scale for the statues.
Starry, Starry Night
Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”
“The Girl With the Pearl Earring”
We did see part of the Memorial Day Parade on Saturday, primarily because we were trapped in a Lyft car on our way to the downtown Macy’s store, where I had a mission to see if they could repair the strap to a purse that is, otherwise. I bought the original purse downtown at Water Tower Place at Macy’s and, if you don’t know this, Water Tower Place has become a bit of a Ghost Town, since Macy’s pulled out. We were headed for the old State Street store and dined in the Walnut Room (chicken pot pie, $15).
It took quite a while to navigate the extremely crowded streets, as many of them had been shut down for the parade. The weather, however, was terrific!
I got nowhere trying to find replacement straps or some form of repair for my brand-name purse, but I’m not done trying to fix the Michael Kors bag. If you know of someone in the Quad Cities that works with leather and can repair a 1/2 inch strap, let me know. (Most of the replacement straps on Amazon are wider at .56 Centimeters, and they mention something about “sewing,” which confuses me. Also, the original straps have attractive studs on them, which replacement straps would not have.
We saw Tom Cruise’s new “Maverick” movie on Saturday night, which I will talk about in another article. On Sunday, we trekked over to the Museum of Science & Industry to see the Lego exhibit that is on display. It is truly remarkable to see a lawyer hang up his law degree to, instead, spend major time and effort on building replicas of a variety of great art works. The artist, Nathan Sawaya, created this critically acclaimed collection of creative and inspiring pieces in a display entitled “The Art of the Brick.”
While you pay about $15 per person to enter the Museum of Science and Industry, you have to pay another $42 to see the Lego art, but the captured German submarine, a Museum staple, is free, and the various WWII aircraft, including Japanese Zero(s) and half of a large United 727 are free, as was the replica of the Wright Brothers first plane flown at Kitty Hawk in 1903 (for about a minute), which I portrayed pictures of on yesterday’s post.
So, aside from the Criterium (9:45 to 11:45 a.m. in the Village of East Davenport) in the Quad Cities, there did not seem to be much going on that I would have enjoyed. I can’t imagine that I’d have beaten a path over to see the bicycle race, and watching the Indianapolis 500 on TV can be doe anywhere.
So, I’m in Chicago right now and, as I post this week, I’ll try to post some of the wondrous creations made of Legos that are now the main exhibit t the Museum of Science and Industry.
But, as a lead-in, I’ll post a few pictures of the old planes from WWII, the Kitty Hawk first plane replica and my daughter and I pretending be various things in cut-outs (astronaut, in her case).
Come back in the succeeding days, as I attempt to get the pictures off my phone and onto my computer, which is not as easy as you’d think.(We have new phones, and apparently, if you don’t use “small,” the pictures are too complex to forward.)
So, here are the first few shots from the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago.
Our journey of 1,000 miles (give or take a few miles) has led us back to the Quad Cities, where the bush next to my garage is in full bloom.
Out of 19 phone calls on our answering machine, only 2 were important. One was from Iowa City, moving the time they want to see me up from 3:30 (May 6) to 2:40 (May 6) so that I can be told about some research studies that I might qualify for. This is interesting, because, earlier in the festivities, I wrote directly to the woman who is (ostensibly) in charge of all research studies at that venerable institution, and she told me I did not qualify for any of the studies currently ongoing.
I’ve been a devotee of trying to help other people with the same ailment ever since my mother volunteered for several diabetes studies during her days in Iowa City (ages 82 to 95). In fact, I’m currently in a knee study (control group) charting how arthritis ultimately gets us all and have had frequent MRI and X-rays of my left knee for that one for close to 20 years. I also was recently called from that same list of participants to ask if our joints hurt more or less after having Covid-19.
This time, the ailment is something far more life-threatening: cancer. I don’t know precisely what they want to talk to me about at 2:40 on May 6th, but it is one of the main reasons I am journeying to Iowa City at such a late date, after the barn door has been left open, so to speak, and the horse has gotten out. My treatment began last December. Hopefully, it will conclude on or about June 27th. I go tomorrow to have a CAT scan to set up radiation. On or about May 12th, I begin the radiation treatments that are supposed to kill any remaining cancer cells and, hopefully, prevent any recurrence on the left side of my body. I go every week day, Monday through Friday, for 33 days.
We may meet up with long-time friends Pam and John Rhodes for dinner on Friday night (May 6th) in Iowa City, another doctor appointment I have recently set up, but that part remains tentative. Regardless, we will drive up and listen to the experts give their feedback on everything that has been done (and is being done) so far, and listen to the study they mentioned in a phone conversation on our answering machine that they might like me to participate in. I have read that doctors around the country are trying to develop a vaccine to prevent breast cancer and that would certainly be a boon to mankind—or womankind.
The only other phone call that was important was simply to remind me to show up at 1 p.m. for the “simulation” with radiologist Dr. Stoffel and to have the CAT scan for planning purposes. I also have to stop and pick up one of the adjuvant therapy drugs that I was prescribed back in early February. I will have taken 90 of these Anastrozole pills (1 mg.) on Thursday of this week, so the side effects should have kicked in or be kicking in shortly. So far, taking them at night along with 5 other pills, I’m not aware of any extraordinary “bad” things, although perhaps February 5 to May 5 is not long enough? Don’t know. Can’t tell you, but have been told I have to take this pill for 5 years. Have read many horror stories about bad side effects, but, so far, so good. I have to have my bone density checked, which hasn’t been done since 2017, because that is one of the more serious side effects of this estrogen-blocking drug, and the other is high cholesterol (which I already have and for which I already take medication.) It sounded infinitely preferable to Tamoxifen.
Today, we drove from St. Louis and finished off “Comedy, Comedy, Drama” by Bob Odenkirk. We both agree that both books we selected were good, but the book “All About Me” by Mel Brooks gets the nod because of his much longer career. I started a “drama” book…actually 2 of them. One (“Devil House”) has definitely left me cold. It spent hours describing a trip to the supermarket (alert the media!) and barely used any real “” dialogue. Then, suddenly, in the middle of the book, the author began writing an ersatz version of Olde English.
Look: I was forced to memorize the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales when in high school (“Whom that Aprilluh, when the shoruh sota”), which I learned phonetically. It was pure torture then and putting in some made-up version of Olde English did nothing for the book or its plot—such as it is. It started out with promise: a story about a crime writer who moves into a house that witnessed the brutal murder of a high school teacher by two of her students. The teacher was subsequently thought to be a witch. Perhaps it was the fact that she took the time to hack up both students after dismantling them during their surprise attack and then wheelbarrowed their bodies down to the beach and threw them in the ocean. (Doesn’t sound like normal, ordinary, potential victim behavior).
The book was very sympathetic towards the teacher, but, then, just as we were trying to find a reason why an otherwise rational high school teacher who had successfully defended her life would not simply pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1- for help afterwards, there was a shift in tone and the author protagonist interviewed the mother of one of the high school victims.
I’m no expert, but I like good dialogue and a lot of it in the books I read, and I absolutely loathe lengthy descriptions that serve little to no purpose. On top of that, the Olde English thing lost me and—let’s just say that it is a toss-up whether I will continue residing in “Devil House” any longer, so I moved on over to a second e-book selection, the name of which escapes me.
The second book—as my husband agreed—just seems way too “slick.” It’s like a “Mission Impossible” vehicle for a Tom Cruise character. The not-that-original kernel of the book is that an orphan was raised to be an assassin (Orphan X). I’ve actually reviewed a book that had this same premise, only that book was better. This one has now thrown in talk of Mexican cartels and dialing for a Mr. Nowhere who will help find a beautiful young 18-year-old kidnapped by evil Mexican cartel members, and his apartment has been blown up, so he is re-engineering one of those James Bond-type residences that has all kinds of high tech things like hidden rooms and special glass to deter snipers and I-don’t-know-what-all. Meh. I am not getting into this one, either, even though the author has done a more-than-decent job of writing it. It’s just not my thing, apparently, and not my husband’s either, he says. There was one good sexy scene, which I appreciated since so many thriller writers avoid sex scenes like the plague, but, since I’m gearing up now for good old-fashioned radiation, which is supposed to leave one absolutely wiped out, I can’t want to, as my children used to say when young.
So, it’s “Home again, home again” diggety do. The spouse will have to hit the grocery store tomorrow, because I not only have to spend inordinate amounts of time at the radiologists going through a “simulation” but also have to stop and get more Anastrazole, which I run out of in 4 days.
I’ve unpacked. I’m getting ready to watch “Under the Banner of Heaven” with Andrew Garfield, and all’s right with the world.