29 March 2007


Yesterday as I was listening to the radio at work, I happened to hear that Patty Griffin was playing last night at the Vic. In a fury of excitement, I looked online, made a few phone calls, and within an hour, had 2 tickets in the second row. Since I’m not normally an avid concert attendee (this week excluded), I don’t usually keep up with who is coming to town. But I love Patty Griffin and have always wanted to see her in concert. And believe me, I was not disappointed. It was worth every penny and I would have paid three times as much. We were so close, I could see her wrinkles (yes, she has wrinkles). Her raw voice and honest, powerful lyrics left me wishing the show would never end.

Here's a sampling...

Here are the lyrics to "Forgiveness", which she played last night:

We are swimming with the snakes at the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what's more we never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will never be free

I heard 'em ringing the bells in heaven and hell
They got a secret they're getting ready to tell
It's falling from the skies
It's calling from the graves
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved

Let's take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don't need to tell me a thing, baby
We've already confessed
And I raise my voice to the air and we were blessed
It's hard to give
It's hard to get
But everybody needs a little forgiveness

We are calling for help tonight on a thin phone line
As usual we're having ourselves one hell of a time
And the planes keep flying right over our heads
No matter how loud we shout "Hey, hey, hey!"
And we keep waving and waving our arms in the air but we're all tired out

I heard somebody say today's the day
A big old hurricane she's blowing our way

Knocking down all the buildings
Killing all the lights
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night

Let's take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don't need to tell me a thing, baby, we already confessed
And I raise my voice to the air and we were blessed
It's hard to give
It's hard to get
It's hard to live still I think it's the best bet
It's hard to give and I'm never gonna forget
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

28 March 2007

Vusi Mahlasela

Last night we went to the Chicago Cultural Center for an incredible concert by South African vocalist Vusi Mahlasela. According to the synopsis on the Chicago Cultural Center website, "In his home country of South Africa, Vusi Mahlasela is fondly known as "The Voice." Apart from his remarkable songwriting talent, Mahlasela is blessed with one of the most remarkable voices in contemporary popular music. His debut album, When You Come Back, a tribute to the political exiles of South Africa, catapulted him to instant fame and is considered a South African classic. [...] As an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader and performer, Mahlasela is now enjoying an ever-growing popularity from his recent appearances as part of the Acoustic Africa tour and album on Putumayo. He has performed at the celebrated Bonnoroo music festival with much acclaim and has toured the US with the Derek Trucks Band. Mahlasela appeared in the award winning South African anti-apartheid struggle documentary, Amandla!, the celebrated film about the importance of music and song during the struggle. One of his most ardent supporters is Dave Matthews, who is a native of South Africa and has long aimed to make Mahlasela’s music known in the U.S. When Matthews founded ATO Records, one of his first goals was to sign Mahlasela to the label. Together, they released the compilation album The Voice. Matthews also invited Mahlasela to contribute vocals on the title track of the Matthews' multi-platinum album Everyday. Mahlasela’s highly anticipated new album Guiding Star features guest performances from Dave Matthews, Jem, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Derek Trucks and many more.”

Now for my own words, if I can find some. While many people close to me have been to South Africa, I felt privileged to have a little piece of South Africa come to me last night. The concert presented a deafening message in the most quiet and graceful of ways. It was powerful, yet humble. In a mere hour and 20 minutes, Vusi evoked within me many of those things we associate with the South African experience: strength, struggle, forgiveness, injustice, humanity, reconciliation, a lust for unity... the list goes on. And I keep reminding myself that it is my privilege as a white person and as an American to be able to attend events such as these and ponder at my leisure abstract concepts which have been nothing but concrete realities for so many. I'm not saying it's bad or that I should feel guilty, only that I must be conscious of the perspective from which I view the world. I am grateful for events such as these.

For more information on Vusi, check out the Vusi Mahlasela website. And get to the Chicago Cultural Center once in a while. They have great events and all for free.

26 March 2007


Every good relationship needs a change of pace, something new and exciting, and possibly even a break. Nothing could be truer about our relationship with Chicago. As much as we love city life, we can always use a good dose of fresh air, light traffic and views for miles. So, last weekend, Andrew and I met my parents in Colorado to visit my brother, Dave. He moved there last summer and is pretty much enamored with all that CO has to offer: skiing, biking, hiking, mountain air and open spaces. It was great to visit with him, experience his life and friends, and partake in some of his favored activities. We had a great time and here are the pictures to prove it:

Photos 1&2: A long awaited test drive in a Cooper S
Photo 3: Skiing at Copper
Photos 4&5: Performance go-kart racing (they can reach 60 mph)!
Photos 6&7: Red Rocks
Photo 8: Dave's dog, Elsa

15 March 2007


"The soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March," has forever imbued that date with a sense of foreboding. But in Roman times the expression "Ides of March" did not necessarily evoke a dark mood—it was simply the standard way of saying "March 15." Surely such a fanciful expression must signify something more than merely another day of the year? Not so. Even in Shakespeare's time, sixteen centuries later, audiences attending his play Julius Caesar wouldn't have blinked twice upon hearing the date called the Ides. The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)

The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Days in March:
March 1: Kalends; March 2: VI Nones; March 3: V Nones; March 4: IV Nones; March 5: III Nones; March 6: Pridie Nones (Latin for "on the day before"); March 7: Nones; March 15: Ides

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.), the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is another exotic-sounding term with a mundane meaning. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due." (Source: Infoplease)

14 March 2007

You want to charge me FOR WHAT?

After overhearing many "conversations" I've had with utility companies, banks and various delinquent billing departments, several of my co-workers have said to me on many occasions things like, "Will you call and talk to my telephone company for me?" and "You should be a lobbyist for something... you know, to channel your aggression," and the kicker, "Man, I feel bad for Andrew."

I find myself reflecting on the not too distant past when I seemed to possess a greater tolerance for my fellow workers in the world. I tempered my responses to customer services reps with a series of assumptions and rationalizations that basically amounted to giving them the benefit of the doubt. But it's not so easy any more and I'm trying to figure out why. Have I lost my last shred of patience? Do I have a shorter fuse? While my frustration has definitely been valid at times, I'm realizing that I'm going to have to change my attitude if I don't want to be aggravated for the next 50 years. I've always heard that age brings cynicism. And to be honest, I can see that creeping into my character at times. But I don't want to be cynical. I want to figure out how to age gracefully, to stand my ground when I need to, but to do it with graciousness and understanding. So, I'll keep working on that, and in the meantime, I'll work on getting this charge reversed for a returned mail fee.

08 March 2007


Tuesday night Andrew and I attended the opening event for The Ancient Americas exhibit at the Field Museum. After 10 years of research and development and one year of intense production, the doors opened for approximately 3000 people to witness the unveiling of one of the museum's largest exhibits. It is always amazing to see Andrew's models behind glass, and to know that they will be there for years to come.

Since Andrew has started working for the Field Museum, I have heard many stories from behind the scenes. For me, and perhaps for many of us, museums have always represented things that are untouchable and out of reach, things that are so much bigger than us—histories, philosophies, people groups. Walking through the halls of a museum and seeing irreplaceable artifacts behind glass, it is easy to view them as untouched relics of a distant past. But my perspective has changed after hearing about the drama of developing an exhibit and all the inevitable improvisations, repairs and adjustments. It makes a museum seem a lot more… human. There actually are people handling these artifacts, and believe it or not, the exhibits don’t just appear out of nowhere. Normally, this kind of information would ruin it for me. How can I be in awe over something that has been stripped of its wonder? How can I have reverence for an artifact after knowing that it may have been sitting on someone’s desk next to a bologna sandwich (of course, that would never happen, but you get my point)? How can I (or any of the museum staff) find the magic after being subjected to the dirty, imperfect process of production?

Thankfully, somehow, I can. Even after getting the inside scoop on production, I am happy to say that I still feel small inside a museum. I still feel that there is something intangible and mysterious about what that place represents. I can’t say why, but I’m just glad that I do. And what’s even more amazing is that Andrew does too. The passion, skill and creativity of the staff are something to be admired. To think that they had only one year to produce this exhibit after 10 years of research, that is pretty magical in itself.

So if you ever find yourself needing to feel inspired, try standing in that great hall of the Field Museum. It’s hard not to feel something when you have 2 giant elephants and a tyrannosaurus rex staring you in the face.

05 March 2007

All Things Andrew

Yes, folks, today is Andrew's 27th birthday. And as you can see, he's ready for it. Fifteen years ago, when he was a wee lad of 12, some honorable scotsman of the Glenlivet distillery decanted the very scotch you see here today. Fifteen years of maturation, both of the scotch and of Andrew, have resulted in a smooth, aromatic and amber toned body. Coincidentally, they both are characterized by desirable legs. His birthday wish would be to relax by the fire with his lass, surrounded by the comforts of a silk ascot, seasoned pipe and aged scotch, but he will instead celebrate with yet another day of work. Ah well, the life of a hardworking scotsman.

But there are good things to come. Andrew made some birthday purchases to prepare for his upcoming trip to the Rockies. His waterproof, breathable, 5 point lightweight Titanium jacket, with radial venting system, performance hood, multifunctional pockets and adjustable powder skirt will help him to navigate the treacherous bunny slope he imagines as an Olympic mogul course (shhh... don't tell him). And while his anti-glare polarized lenses might protect those baby blues from the glare off the snow, we're hoping they'll be just as effective against the glares of appalled skiers as Andrew attempts the fastest snowplow known to humankind.

So, as you can see, our birthday boy is quite diverse in his talents and interests. From decanters of single malts to double black diamonds, this guy is all about simple pleasures and extreme endeavors. Here's to many more years of adventure! Happy birthday Andrew!

04 March 2007


She looks pretty reserved right here, but don't be fooled! This 17-month-old knows up to 60 words! According to one website I looked at, an 18-month-old usually has a vocabulary of approximately 5-20 words. Yes, she's a genius.

We are proud to be the aunt and uncle of Charlotte, regardless of her speech skills. It's really quite awe inspiring to watch a tiny baby grow into a little person. To think that she has a life ahead of her, full of possibilities and surrounded by people who will encourage her to be nobody but Charlotte... it's exciting and humbling. So, Charlotte, we say to you: We love you and we look forward to hearing more about juice, milk, Nana, Grampa, Grammie, Sophie, Icky and all the rest. And Andrew doesn't mind that you call him Amy, and Amy doesn't mind either. And way to go on the vocab. Maybe one of these days you'll outtalk Andrew.