I climbed into bed Friday night after hearing the news of Walter Cronkite’s not unexpected death. On Saturday we awoke to an almost autumnal day of gray clouds and cool temps, and I felt a general malaise of spirit settling over me. We got an early start and headed out to spend a few hours at the Botanic Gardens just north of Chicago. Nearly one quarter of its 385 acres is water and there are nine islands. I highly recommend a visit if you have the opportunity! I perked up a bit though I could tell that handsome hunk was tiptoeing around my tentative mood. We have different approaches to museums, sightseeing and sometimes life in general. I tend to forge forward and he dawdles at various distractions. I’m trying to take in as many gorgeous flowers as possible, he’s whistling to the birds. Vive la difference.

That evening, though still not in the best of moods, I decided to humor handsome husband and perk up my spirits by going with him to salsa night at Chicago SummerDance. It’s impossible not to smile and enjoy yourself when you’re dancing to a great salsa band (and perhaps the sangria helped too). Later in the evening we stopped in at a little bar for a fundraiser for Burners Without Borders (BWB), the philanthropic arm of Burning Man. In 2005 after Burning Man attendees spontaneously contributed to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, BWB emerged as a community led, grassroots group that addresses gaping needs where existing cultural and societal systems are failing. In essence, the desire is to build community through art and action.

This morning I tuned in to watch CBS Sunday Morning and their tribute to Walter Cronkite. I found myself crying at one point and it was a relief, a release of the malaise that had come over me after hearing of his death. He delivered all the important news during my growing up years. His most important contribution, I think, was his decision to speak out about the Vietnam War. His essence was not so much his authority, but his earned credibility. The people who deliver the news on TV today don’t have his natural talent or credibility. They are newsreaders, not journalists or reporters. Wolf Blitzer sounds as if he is yelling all the time. Cutesy patter, pandering, arguing and dissecting inconsequential minutiae often masquerade as journalism today. Of course, fewer people are turning to TV for news and it’s no wonder why. I thought anyone from another country who might read this post would not know who Walter Cronkite was, but today I learned that the term for news anchors in some countries is Kronkiters or Cronkiters

One of the lines of tribute spoken by a colleague of Cronkite’s was, “We’ll bury something of our own pasts along with this man.” Hence my tears, I think. Life continues to zoom by and the days of my youth, innocence and anticipation for what life will bring seem less and less tangible. I admire Walter Cronkite. It appears that he lived his life with curiosity, intensity and passion. When he was forced to retire by CBS, I can’t remember what I thought about it at the time. Was I sad? Did I think it was time for the old man to move on? Or, did I not even notice since I was raising young children at that time? I think it was the latter.

Other weekend tidbits:
– I haven’t found New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd very amusing, creative or insightful in her columns for a few years. Today though, she made me laugh with the last paragraph of today’s column:

Judge Sotomayor kept her feelings in check, while her white male Republican interrogators dissolved into whining about wanting to keep their guns and nunchakus and wishing they could get back some sway over what women do with their bodies. If they are so interested in women’s bodies, maybe they should just move to C Street.”

(Note: A house on C Street serves as a residence and/or Bible study retreat for many conservative lawmakers. Several of these men recently have fallen off the marital wagon so to speak and are embroiled in scandals.)

– A literary friend shared this excerpt from Chandler Burr’s recently published first novel, You or Someone Like You:

A guy walks out of a theater on 42nd at Times Square and stumbles over a bum.
The bum says, “Spare a buck?”
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” snaps the man. “William Shakespeare.”
“F**k you!” says the bum. “David Mamet.”

Nancy Drew is in the news. Since Judge Sotomayor revealed her love of reading Nancy Drew books as a youngster, other well-known women have made similar confessions. Personally, I lived and breathed Nancy Drew books when I was in the 5th grade. I had a friend, who had an older sister who had a bookcase filled with her mother’s complete collection. I would race home from school on my bike and devour a book a day. On weekends, ala Nancy Drew- wait, I think ala Trixie Belden not Nancy Drew – my bike became my horse and I rode the trails of a nearby woods. Does anyone remember reading the Cherry Ames or Sue Barton series of books?

– On our run this morning through town (instead of by the lake), we encountered a lot of young twenty-plus somethings heading to the nearby Pitchfork Music Festival. The newest concert accessory appears to be hula hoops. Dare I say, what goes around comes around? I can hear your groans.

Weekend photo gallery:

It seemed that everyone was an amateur photographer at the Botanic Gardens on Saturday. I saw more than a few of the real-deal cameras with the long lenses. Flowers are just irresistible. I couldn’t resist taking a few photos with my pocket camera.

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And, I hope that these photos convey a sense of why we love Chicago’s SummerDance in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden. The salsa bands are always extremely popular:

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I hope your week is off to a swingin’ start.

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