Monday, March 29, 2010

Ridge Park swimming blues

Swimming at Ridge Park has been a really hit or miss experience for me. Some of my fellow swimmers are really great about sharing the lane and communicating in a polite way to make it a better experience. They can be a pleasure to swim with. Others prefer to blast everyone else out of the pool, with their loud rude voices, by crashing into other people, and/or doing everything they can think of to make other people in the lane feel unwelcome.

For those of you who haven't been there, the Ridge Park pool is a very nice one, but it's a little too popular. It's not unusual to have 4-5 swimmers sharing each lane designated for lap swimming. Depending on who is at the pool during any given session, people are usually somewhat flexible about use of the outer lanes. Not today. The two center lanes had 4-5 lap swimmers for most of the time I was there, swimmers much faster than me. Lane 4 was full of old ladies when I first arrived. In my last 5 minutes in the pool, 3 people came to lounge or exercise in lane 1, where I had been doing slow lap swimming with one other person. In spite of the fact that nearly all the old ladies in lane 4 had left, so it was now almost empty, the 3 new arrivals in lane 1 insisted in blocking the entire width of lane and would not share with slow lap swimming. I tried asking nicely more than once, but one loudmouth bitch flopped in the middle of the lane and would not move.

I tried talking to a lifeguard about the problem, and she kept pointing back to the 2 center lanes, which are rarely enough for all the lap swimmers who come to the pool. I explained that to her, and that many who swim fast are extremely rude to those who swim slower and often don't share the lane well. I asked if a 3rd lane could be designated for lap swimming, at least part of the time.

She suggested going to the Ag School (111th near Pulaski) or to Hayes Park (85th & Sacramento). Not a good answer. Ridge Park is 2 blocks from my house. Most of the time I don't have a car available, and each of the pools she suggests is at least 5 miles away.

Why shouldn't my neighborhood park do a better job at accommodating the full range of people who want to use the pool? Why can't we have a 3rd lane for lap swimming, or have a session that is lap swimming only? The way the Ridge Park pool is currently run is a bad experience too often. Not acceptable.

construction season will be extra fun this year

It's already a bit of an adventure to get around the Loop and some areas. The construction fun will continue for a while. I'll be glad when it's done. BTW, it's much easier to get out of the mess on a bike - great incentive to be riding instead of driving.

Wednesday night at Beverly Arts Center

This week, BACinema features "An Education," Wed., Mar. 31, 7:30 p.m., $7 ($5/BAC members) at Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. 773-445-3838.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

assorted neighborhood news from BAPA

There will be a Health Fair, Sat. 3/27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 22nd District Police Station, 1900 W. Monterey. Free screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, blood glucose (fast for 2 hours prior) and more, plus Ask the Doctor segment. 312-745-0620.

Census You should have received the 2010 U.S. Census Survey in the mail. If you haven't already sent it back please do, so the population of our community can be accurately determined to help get our fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and other programs. Learn more at

Sample Parks Chocolates in time to fill your Easter baskets! Sat. 3/27, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Blossom Boys, 9911 S. Walden Pkwy. 773-779-4400

Curves, 1804-06 W. 103rd St., is hosting a food drive to benefit local food banks. Donate, through 3/31. 773-239-4801.

how bicycles helped bring Curious George to us

There's an interesting story in the Sun-Times this a.m. Many of us know the Curious George children's books. The story of how the author and illustrator of those beloved books escaped from France into Spain and Portugal by bicycle and made their way to America, where their books were later published. A new exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, opening tomorrow, tells their story. And you can get there by bike via a spur from the North Branch Trail.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter Bunny breakfast at Blue Moon on 3/27

Want to treat your kids to some fun and food this Saturday morning? Take 'em down to Blue Moon, 1742 W. 99th St., for the Easter Bunny breakfast, 8 a.m. to Noon. They'll get pancakes, sausage, a gift from the Easter Bunny, and loads of fun. $8 per person. Reservations recommended. 773.840.3618

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

choices, choices

We've got some great choices for entertainment in the neighborhood this Wednesday night.

The Beverly All Stars will be at Iona's, (1767 W. 95th St., opposite the 95th St. Metra station, 773.233.0027), from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

The Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., will be having "It's Complicated" as its Wednesday night movie, starting at 7:30.

At the Music Station, 1808 W. 103rd St., it's bluegrass night from 7 to 10 p.m.

Monday, March 22, 2010

new organic lawn care option in the neighborhood

Today I got home from a walk to find a flyer on my door that offered some welcome news. Scott Ware Landscape Design (773-445-8479), which is been primarily a design-and-build landscaping service, has decided to offer organic lawn care service.

I've been impressed with the quality of Scott Ware's designs and installations around the neighborhood. I should note that I am NOT a current customer and do not have any financial interest in the business. These comments are from the perspective of a neighborhood resident and gardener who is frustrated by the mainstream toxic approach to landscape care.

In the years since I moved to the neighborhood, I've seen many lawns that have not done well under the traditional approach used by most lawn services. These lawns are mowed on a fixed schedule, regardless of what the weather has been since the last mowing and how much the grass has grown. Cutting grass too short and/or too often is a common practice, which stresses the grass and affects its root growth, making it more vulnerable to insect damage and disease. When the inevitable happens, the lawn is then treated with chemicals to fight the insect damage and disease.

Many beneficial micro-organisms and animals are killed along with those that were targeted by the chemical treatments. Without the beneficial creatures, the grass becomes more vulnerable, and is treated with more chemicals. Worms are permeated with chemicals. Birds eat the contaminated worms and die. Later in the season, when the mosquitoes get bad, there are fewer birds around to eat them. Dogs and children who walk or play on the chemically-treated lawns may end up inadvertently getting the chemicals into their systems, with potentially bad results. This is somewhat of a simplification, but I think you get my point.

An organic, holistic approach is very different. If grass is allowed to grow a little longer, it can grow a healthier root structure, making it less vulnerable to insects and disease. In a dry period when the grass has grown less, it can be allowed to go longer between mowings. Many lawn-attacking insects have natural predators, including other insects and micro-organisms. Use of these biological controls does not involve toxic chemicals. Use of organic fertilizers along with a mulching lawn mower, which leaves grass and leaf bits behind to compost in the lawn, eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.

The flyer advertises "Lawns mowed only when they need it. Chemical-free weed and insect control." I think it's a great idea that they're offering this as a pilot program and hope it will be a big success.

health care reform legislation

I was very disappointed to learn that Rep. Dan Lipinski voted AGAINST health care reform legislation in yesterday's vote. On some issues, he really gets it. On this one, he voted for the status quo and against the interests of his constituents.

Want to find out how your representative voted and send a message? Click here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beverly All Stars at Iona's

The Beverly All Stars are playing tomorrow night (3/17) at Iona's (1767 W. 95th St. - opposite the 95th St. Metra station - 773.233.0027.) from 7:30 to 10:00. This is a friendly little space. Be prepared to get cozy with your neighbors. If you need parking and can't find it on street, try the city lot 1/2 block uphill to the west.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

another exciting project in the pipeline

Construction of the Ford Calumet Environmental Center has been delayed a bit after the winning proposal was chosen back in 2004, but it's finally in the construction pipeline.

2009/09/27 Ford Calumet Environmental Center
27,300-square-foot museum, $17 million
13400 S Torrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60633

This architectural gem will be a stunning highlight in the relatively unknown Hegewisch Marsh, a 120 acre wetland which has undergone a lengthy clean-up after years of neglect, thanks to a conservation grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It has the potential to boost environmental tourism to the city. The southeast corner of the city and northwest Indiana feature interconnected wetland areas, which attract many species of migrating birds.

Last fall I went to a tree planting workday at Hegewisch Marsh and was amazed by the extent to which nature has rebounded in this area of the city as heavy industry has decreased. I look forward to returning to the site to see how our little oak trees have grown.

More links:
City of Chicago page from when contest was started in 11/03.
Plusmood architecture and design blog

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

fun on Saturday morning

Have you ever tried Open Streets in the city? We're getting a suburban version this Saturday morning in Oak Forest. A mile-long section of Cicero Ave. will be closed to car traffic and open to bike and pedestrian traffic. There will also be a 5K run, followed by a parade and an all-day festival. Check out the event flier for Oak Forest Fleadh.

two chances to see the Beverly All Stars this week

The Beverly All Stars are playing tonight at Iona's (1767 W. 95th St. - opposite the 95th St. Metra station - 773.233.0027.) from 7:30 to 10:00. This is a friendly little space. Be prepared to get cozy with your neighbors. If you need parking and can't find it on street, try the city lot 1/2 block uphill to the west.

On Saturday 3/13 they're playing at Blue Moon's 3-course Irish dinner ($15), which starts at 7 p.m. If you don't already have a reservation, I'd recommend making a call sooner rather than later. These special dinners tend to book up early. 773.840.3618

115th St. Metra station to be renovated

There's a new construction project in the pipeline, according to this source. I'm sure that a lot of folks will be happy to see that sad old station fixed up.

2010/02/28 Morgan Park Metra Station - Renovation
train station renovation, $8 million
11445 S Hale Ave, Chicago, IL 60643

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cafe 103 specials for St. Patrick's Day

Cafe 103 will offer Irish High Tea on Saturday 3/13 at 2 PM for $25.00 per person. They will have a special Irish menu for dinner on both Saturday 3/13 and Sunday 3/14.

There will also be 2 cooking classes for kids on Saturday 3/13:
Cool Kids Cook - Irish Soda Bread - Beverly's Pantry
10:30 AM and 12:30 PM $15.00 per child - Ages 7 and older

Don't forget - Beverly's Pantry has after-school classes every Thursday at 3 PM. Call for info !! 773-238-5115

Jazz Links jam session on 3/10

The Jazz Institute of Chicago presents a Jazz Links jam session on Wednesday 3/10. Students get an opportunity to perform with world-class professionals in the Jazz Links house band, led by pianist Ken Chaney. These sessions are both an educational experience for the students and an inter-generational community event, where parents, teachers, students and the general public witness the development of young talent before their eyes and ears.

Come on out and support the next generation of jazz talent in Chicago. If you know any young musicians looking to meet jazz musicians their age and get a chance to play with some of the best talent in Chicago, tell them to bring their instruments.

Come to Randolph St. Cafe in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E Randolph at 5 p.m. on 3/10 and enjoy. Free admission.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Irish film fest at Beverly Arts Center

'tis a sign of spring. The Irish film fest is happening now thru 3/10 at the Beverly Arts Center.

jazzy St. Patrick's dinner at Blue Moon

Looking for a low-key good time on Saturday night? Wander down to 99th St. and check out Blue Moon's St. Patrick's Day dinner, 3/13 7 p.m. 3-course dinner, Irish menu, $15, with jazz by the Beverly All Stars. Reservations are recommended. These special dinners tend to book up early. 773-840-3618

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tweet Home Chicago bird house contest

The City of Chicago and its partners invite you to design and build a bird house for your favorite bird-friendly spot in Chicago! They are hosting the competition as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness about the importance of birds and bird-friendly habitat in Chicago. Win monetary awards and other prizes. Bird house submittals will be displayed at public venues, installed in parks, or auctioned to raise money for bird conservation efforts in the city. The registration deadline is April 16 and bird houses are due April 29 - May 1, 2010. Check out the Dept. of Environment web page for details.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

want to be more visible on your bike?

Want to stand out from the nighttime crowd? Come to this class to learn how to be safe and VISIBLE when traveling in the dark. Topics will include all sorts of lights, reflectors, vests, and simple skills that will make you a shining beacon of the cycling world. Plan on decorating yourself and/or your bike for maximum effect while having a good time. Light refreshments will be provided, with free fleecy accoutrements (balaclavas) thrown in to sweeten the pot. Bring the clothing and/or accessories (including your bike) that you want to make reflective.

Active Trans, 9 W. Hubbard, 4th floor
Saturday, March 6, 2010
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

chainlink event listing (optional RSVP)

Bike Winter event listing #1213

Beverly All Stars on Wednesday night

On Wednesday 3/3 from 7:30 to 10:00, a scaled-down version of the Beverly All Stars (guitar and piano) will be playing in a new place, Iona's Beverly Hills Cafe, 1767 W. 95th St (opposite the 95th St. Metra station), 773-233-0027. Be prepared - this is a cozy space, so plan to be seated very close to the band and to everyone else.

If you need parking, use the city lot at 95th & Longwood.

household hazardous and electronic waste collection

The Green Sanctuary Group of Beverly Unitarian Church will collect household hazardous waste and electronics for recycling Sat. 3/6, 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the church parking lot, 10244 S. Longwood Dr. (the Castle). Modest contributions to help offset transportation costs are appreciated. For more information, call 773-233-7080.