Category USA

The Baha’i temple reminds me of….something

The first time I visited the Baha’i Temple, about ten years ago, I said “Wow!  This building is so symmetrical” and then didn’t think much of it afterwords. I’d like to believe that my architectural frame of reference is more sophisticated these days, so I made another visit to the temple.  This time my reaction was “Wow! […]

Argyle Street Chicago: get on the train for authenticity and ass cake

I recently asked for some advice from fellow blogger Sophia Hsiao, whose gorgeous nature photography has me longing to visit Taiwan.  In response to my inquiry about Taiwanese cities to visit, Sophia recommended a few and added “Each city has its streets”.  Sophia then listed the best streets in her recommended cities. As a smart traveler, Sophia knows you can’t just show up […]

This night’s for you, Gram

People always tell me “You’re so adventurous!”  Of course I take this as a compliment but, well, I feel a bit like fraud, what with my fear of flying and generally risk-adverse personality.  An authentically adventurous woman?  I once knew one: her name was Emily and she was my grandmother. My Gram, Emily Evans Shaffer Harrington, was […]

We are the change that we seek: Chicago’s New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church

From around 1910 through the 1970’s, Chicago was a destination for many African Americans from the rural South who moved here seeking better opportunities in an urban environment.  This movement, known as The Great Migration, resulted in a cultural and demographic shifting of communities. New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, located in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood, consciously […]

Walking the West Rogers Park eruv, the invisible spiritual city on Chicago’s North Side

Look closely.  See the long, black rectangle hidden in the mural below, beneath the red arms?  That’s a door to a invisible city. An invisible city, or perhaps more accurately, an enclosed spiritual zone, known as an eruv.  I’ve been  traveling through the West Rogers Park eruv for years, unaware of its existence, until a few weeks […]

In which the art of Thomas Kong swallows a bodega in Rogers Park

I’ve been walking by Kim’s Corner Food in Rogers Park on Chicago’s far North Side almost daily for 14 years. I went inside a few times to have keys copied.  The proprietor, Thomas Kong, was always kindly and soft spoken. About five years ago this sign appeared.  God is good.  You are special.  Fudge Brownies. Soon after, […]

A private tour of Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church involving many wooden beams, a fan-shaped organ, and a sobering discussion of internment camps

Earlier today an errand brought us to Ravenswood, on Chicago’s North Side, and since I’m the sort of lady who carries a copy of AIA Guide to Chicago in her backpack, HOB and I found ourselves ogling architecture in this pleasing, European-feeling community. Here’s a tip, useful for travelling at home and abroad: visit off-the-beaten-path destinations and […]

Origami toilet paper, the mystery of turn-down service, and did I mention I’m staying at a five star hotel?

So on Sunday night I arrived in Orlando with my cat hair-covered backpack and checked in here: Just me and a room full of pillows.  So.  Many.  Freaking.  Pillows. Don’t worry—I haven’t abandoned my commitment to authentic budget travel.  I just happen to be in Orlando for a conference and this is the hotel where […]

Gauler Twin Houses: Prairie School beauties on Chicago’s North side

Here’s why I’m one lucky lipstick and backpack wearing lady—-I live in Chicago and Chicago is bursting with unexpected architectural treats.  Case in point: the Gauler Twin Houses designed by Walter Burley Griffin. Built in 1908 of stucco and wood, these houses are designed for the Midwest landscape.  Walter Burley Griffin uses the strong horizontal […]

Go ahead, talk politics while traveling

In November of 2008 we were in France listening to people tell us how much they hated our president.  It was, of course, the month of the McCain/Palin vs. Obama/Biden United States presidential election.  At home in Chicago, HOB and I had pushed each other to volunteer for the Obama campaign, promising “A few more volunteer hours tonight and you’ll get extra […]