The Economic Policy Institute conducts extensive studies and recently compiled their 2019 data into tables of demographics about the 55+million workers deemed essential in our country. Those people going to work every day during the COVID pandemic…taking care of our needs despite the danger to themselves and their families. The industries that employ 60+% of essential workers are:
Health care – 30.2% of all essential workers
Agriculture and food – 20.6%
Industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services – 12.3%
All the rest of the industries deemed essential are in single-digit percentages of that 55+ million workers. If you’ve got the time to review, these tables reveal some fascinating facts.
News sources report that many of these essential workers don’t have adequate access to effective PPE (personal protective equipment like masks and gloves) and are not able to keep proper distancing while working in close quarters. Unsurprisingly, then, they get infected in greater numbers with the coronavirus.
Imagine a world without enough people to work these jobs…with limited access to the services these workers provide.
Say thank you to these folks when you see them they do their thing: Treat your sciatica. Repair your vehicle. Cook your meal. Drop off your package. Fill your tooth. Deliver your food. PIck up your garbage. Take your temperature. Do your laundry. Drive you home.
And if you have any ability to affect such things, stand up for their right to be protected during this pandemic. Thank you, people.
P.S. Oh, and check out the wages table. The average gap between male and female pay in many industries looks to be ~$2 to $4/hour. Yep, really.
Helluva 9 weeks we’ve all been isolated at home. Many folks are doing in-home projects they wouldn’t usually find the time/energy for. One of those things is cleaning out and reorganizing closets. And what do we all have dozens of pairs of in our closets? Shoes. And if you’re like a lot of us, you have a few pairs you like but that aren’t that comfortable.
Sampled a new product recently called Formé Shoe Shapers. Articulated in all the right places so you can stretch just the right spots on your flats, highest high heels, and everything in between. Easy to use.
Use these in ballet flats, boots, strappy shoes and more. They’re easy to adjust by expanding the “wings” of the toe shaper. As little as an hour can make a difference in comfort, but you can leave them in overnight or longer if you want more stretch. Just don’t stretch them so much that you get ridges showing on the outsides of the shoes. If you see those, release a little of the pressure.
I gave the shapers a real challenge. A year ago I bought a pair of Clark’s comfort shoes from Zappo’s – based on the hundreds of 5-star reviews. Got them delivered. Tried them on. Found they felt a little like Earth Shoes. If you’re a Boomer Lady you undoubtedly remember those shoes where the heel was slightly lower than the toe – supposedly good for your feet but not really all that comfortable.
Worse, after I’d worn the Clarks a couple of times around the house I realized they were quite tight across the instep – and there was something sharp pushing into the top of my foot. Somehow I didn’t have the energy to repackage them and return them (even though Zappo’s offers free returns). Still, I couldn’t wear them, so they sat in a basket for a couple of months.
When I got the shapers, I put them in the offending shoes for a couple of days. I can now wear thicker socks with them and that obviates the pointy thing (that I cannot locate no matter how I try). So these Formé Shoe Shapers have given me a pair of closed-toe comfort shoes to wear around the house instead of slippers.
The company delivers these shapers with a simple set of instructions on a nicely laminated card. You can keep that in the box with the shapers or in your file folder maybe under “S” for shoes – you have files, right? If you do file it in a folder, make yourself a note somewhere where you usually look for things. Once you become an experienced user, you won’t need the instructions anymore.
These are good for shoes that fit you but might be just a tiny bit too tight. They don’t let you go up a half a size or anything. If you’ve got the room in your closet and the budget, buy a few sets. Put ’em in your most popular shoes every night and keep those puppies ship-shape – instead of smashed on top of each other in a basket outside my pathetically disorganized closet. Available on Amazon.
And good luck with all your quarantine cleaning projects. It’ll be interesting to see which directions we all go in once we’re done with those.
We already had dozens of brick-and-mortar closings around the city with the advent and increasingly widespread use of the Internet. I was particularly sad to see the iconic Michigan Avenue location of Crate & Barrel close down recently and give way to a 4-story Starbucks – also now closed down in our #coronaviruslockdown. I told a few cab drivers – before this craziness – I guess the only thing we can’t get online these days is a hot cup of coffee…
But thank God so many of us did adapt to the use of new technologies, from blogs to smartphones to Google search. Seems it may be how we all learned so quickly about the seriousness of this threat to public health and began to avoid going out and exposing ourselves and others. Yes, radio and television are still at work, but it’s just as likely we heard about the danger online, in emails, and maybe on our smart home devices if we set them up to play news for us.
Even more importantly, many of us already knew how to use FaceTime (if we have iPhones) and Duo if we have Android. We already knew how to “see” each other via technology. And now many of use are becoming seasoned users of conference/meeting software like GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts and Zoom.
In the spirit of sharing and adding some joy to our newly boxed-in lives, here’s a way to make your Zoom presence even more appreciated by your fellow participants. Here are results from a Google search for FREE Zoom backgrounds you can use to dress up your meetings.
And if you love Chicago, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck (875 N. Michigan Avenue) now offers beautiful backdrops to give your friends/coworkers something to admire other than your home office.
From twinkling city lights at sunset to stunning lakefront and skyline scenes only found in Chicago, it’s easy and free to swap out “inside” views for aspirational views of gorgeous panoramic views found only at 360 CHICAGO and TILT from its 94th floor perch.
It’s easy and free. Simply visit https://360chicago.com/zoom-backgrounds/ to download free images…visit often to download the rotating options. Follow on social @360chicago and #360Chicago on all social networks.
Coronavirus looks like it’s going to be around for quite a while. Thank you to the scientists who are working assiduously to find a vaccine and/or a viable treatment. Thank you to the brave people who continue to work in critical industries – health, food, utilities and so on – despite the threat. May they remain healthy and their work bear fruit soon.
You probably know I blog at FoodandDrinkChicago.com and cover restaurant news at ChicagoRestaurantExaminer.com. You’d think I might cover the first of these books at one of those, but even though it’s a cookbook, I’ve chosen to put it in this blog because it’s a memoir just as much. In any case, check out these books to see if something triggers your desire to sit down and read – or cook, or go to China, or call a friend.
The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors, by Mandy Lee, author of LadyandPups.com blog, Check out the cover and you can reasonably expect this to have some drama. Her story of how she moved to Beijing for her husband’s work tells how she found herself frustrated with China’s autocratic political climate, infuriating bureaucracy, and choking pollution, and started her apologetically angry blog. In between, she discovered the glorious flavors of the East. Her ramen story on page 88 will send you running out for the ingredients ASAP. She swears – a lot – as she talks about the constant yellowish smog that requires vigilant Beijing residents to wear a respirator outside “to slow the blackening of our lungs when we went down the street to buy a f**#**# bag of sugar.” Her dark humor and her passion for elaborate flavors may just change the way you look at cooking. SRP~$18. Kindle version available.
The Book of Chinese Proverbs: A Collection of Timeless Wisdom, Wit, Sayings & Advice, by Gerd de Ley. While we’re in China, this book is meant to help readers gain insights into China and its rich culture. The book divides the quotes by category: On Animals. On Beauty. On Experience. On Family and the Home. And so on. Some of the quotes just don’t feel like ancient wisdom, but they may be expressing some aspect of Chinese philosophy. An example: “The true man will not compromise his principles for a meager reward.” Really? If you pay him enough, he will. “A widow is a boat without a rudder.” Hmm. And many quotes do resonate:
“You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.”
“If your children are wicked, they don’t deserve to inherit; if they are good and hard working, they don’t need to.”
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
Be interesting to discuss some of these with a Chinese-raised person. Hardcover only. SRP ~$15.
“Some friends leave footprints in your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
“A single rose can be my garden; a single friend, my world.” – Leo T. Buscglia.
“But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored and sorrows end.” – William Shakespeare.
This may be a print-on-demand book; the binding and quality are not great, and our review copy arrived quite bent, so be sure to ask the shipper to take care in packaging. Hardcover SRP ~$11 and Kindle.
Drive a few hours and find yourself in a modern, comfortable retreat in Northern Michigan. Complete with waterfall walls, cute spots for gift shopping, beautiful spaces in which to dine, and in the right weather, high level golf courses, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is set in the midst of gently rolling hills and trees galore. Even in winter when you can’t golf, this is a grand place for relaxing and escaping from everyday obligations.
And if you’re off for a spring vacation, consider joining them March 22 – April 7 for special Spring Break rates and activities. Book soon and save 20% off of the prevailing rate. Whether you are looking for relaxation, romance, or a family getaway, get up and go at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. For room availability and rates, call 800-236-1577.
Tip: Don’t bring your work! Don’t open social media. Use the workout room. Swim. Eat. Listen. Share. Enjoy.
P.S. Consider taking a little side trip while you’re there to taste some wonderful wines at Shady Lane Cellars. If you’re lucky, you can meet the beautiful, warm, charming and knowledgeable winemaker Kasey Wierzba while you’re there.
Vacation is a time to bask in comfort and luxury if you’re able and willing to do that. Across the entire country you can find dozens and dozens of Historic Hotels of America, all of which are beautifully preserved and refreshed. They will make you feel like royalty and will gently remind you about the history of the area you’re staying in. Here’s a map of U.S. historic hotels so you can pinpoint if there’s one near where you want to go.
In the fast-growing-in-popularity metropolis of Memphis, TN you’ll find The Peabody Hotel – of twice-daily-duck-walks-through-the-lobby fame. In addition to the famous duck parades past the registration desk, you have your choice of satisfying dining options within the hotel. Among them, the most opulent dining room in Memphis enthralls with Old South splendor and the classic French cuisine of Executive Chef Andreas Kisler. In addition to being the only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond rated restaurant in the Mid-South, Chez Philippe has been named among Food & Wine magazine’s “Top 50 Hotel Restaurants,” described as “worth a special trip” by The New York Times and included on Open Table’s list of Top 100 “Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S.” Add to that a boatload of non-stop music and history in the many historic and modern venues, museums and landmarks in the fair city of Memphis, and you’ve got yourself a truly worthy vacay spot.
Closer to home, the Palmer House Hilton will charm you with some of the most exquisite gold-leaf and velvet-curtained surroundings you’ll run into anywhere in Chicago. Did you know that Potter Palmer built this hotel for the love of his life, Berthe Palmer, and that it burned to the ground in the Chicago fire exactly 13 days after its inaugural event? Palmer – who was so discouraged he wanted to leave Chicago altogether but chose to stay because his beloved Berthe encouraged him to do so – went out and negotiated a huge loan from a business associate and rebuilt the new Palmer House – right across the street from the practically still smoldering remains of the original. And that’s just the beginning of the Palmer House story. I have extremely fond personal memories of staying at this fabulous hotel when my college-bound daughter wondered why she’d want to live in Chicago. We lived in Cleveland at the time and visited often to see family but hadn’t really gone “out on the town.” Needless to say, once we settled in at this grand hotel and perambulated our way up and down Michigan Avenue, she fell madly in love with the city and made her college choice accordingly.
You can, of course, also consider treating yourself to a stay at the hotel that anchors the entrance to the famous Magnificent Mile – standing regally on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Oak St. The Drake Hotel is known for many things, including the gorgeous Palm Court and its High Tea service, the legendary Bookbinder snapper (red) soup, and the former Cape Cod Room, known for its wooden bar carved with famous people’s initials – like Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. This space closed a few years ago, but has now reopened as a breakfast option for hotel guests and the general public. Called the Cafe on Oak, it features a couple of specialty Benedicts named after MM – biscuit, steak & egg – and JD – muffin, pancetta, tomato & egg, Happily, the bar and many of the original furnishings remain so that history-seeking guests can still get a feel for the original space and this longest-continuously-running hotel in the U.S.
Wherever you go in our fair country, be sure to check if there’s a historic hotel where you might indulge yourself and your loved ones. It’ll be worth every penny.
Kentucky is where my parents were both born. My mother’s remaining relatives still live in the Louisville area. And the entire state is full of food and beauty and music – and it’s calling us to “come on down” and immerse ourselves in it. Just for starters, pack up your lawn chairs, dress in your best fun clothes, and go sample one or more of the amazing selection of music festivals going on just this June, 2019.
Festival of the Bluegrass – June 6-9, Music and laughter flow as freely as the bourbon, and new friends are made around campfires, over banquet-size meals, and while hootin’ and hollering’ at the artists on stage. www.festivalofthebluegrass.com, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY.
We don’t often cover events and places in the suburbs, but this combination of music and memories was too good not to share.
210 Live, 210 Green Bay Rd, Highwood, IL. Some say this is the best Chicagoland venue for tribute bands – and that means they’re going to be playing our songs, people. 210 Live offers food, live music, and lively people plus a full bar. See below for some of the soundtrack-of-our-lives events coming up, and then check out everything on their live music calendar.
The 210 Live May lineup is your chance to re-live your life’s soundtrack with authentic re-creations of the music of Led Zeppelin, Santana, The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones and Billy Joel. The tribute shows get underway on Thursday, May 2 as GMiV (Great Moments in Vinyl) presents Led Zeppelin and Physical Graffiti at 9 p.m. Opening the evening at 7 p.m. are the Real Pretenders, veterans of Chicago music scene with a passion for heard driving rhythms, catchy melodic hooks, soul tortured lyrics and loads of passion.
Although the Rolling Stones have postponed their 2019 tour (get well, soon, Mick), you can still get Yer Ya Ya’s out with Hot Rocks’ Rolling Stones Tribute on Thursday, May 9 at 9 p.m. This is an exciting theater-like show with the look, the music and the energy! Performing a variety of ‘Stones’ music spanning more than 50 years of hits, 60’s thru today, rock, country, disco and blues. Clap, sing along and dance to these hard-drivin’ songs. Hot Rocks is the only band ‘officially’ selected to represent the Midwest by The Rolling Stones, Paramount Pictures and Martin Scorsese. Come on out, see why people say, “It’s always a party with Hot Rocks.”
On Friday, May 10, 210 Live presents the 70s FM Rockumentary. This is a guided tour of the greatest 70s rock music led by Lester “The Nightfly” who tells his tale of being an FM deejay in the 70s. The DJ is on video, but the music is live! This is a unique show, unlike any you’ve seen. Experience the wild lifestyle in this jukebox musical documentary that celebrates rock’s arguably greatest radio era.
A little road trip that can bring back memories in more ways than one… Carpool, anyone?
The city of Memphis lies serenely along the Mississippi River. Though the state of Arkansas is right across, when you look across from Memphis, all you see is empty-looking flat land. That’s because the river comes to flood stage fairly often, and Arkansas, being on a lower plane, gets the brunt of the flooding. So the Arkansans wisely choose not to build anything along their side of the river. Thus, Memphis appears to be a giant settlement teeming with human activity sitting alone atop its elevated perch next to the great Mississippi.
In addition to being the blues and BBQ capital of the US, Memphis is in the middle of a Renaissance – to the tune of $3.5 billion. That’s what they’re investing in the downtown area where tourists love to visit. Memphis tourism is the number two economic driver for the state after agriculture. The culinary scene is rapidly rising above its BBQ roots. James beard-nominated chefs are coming to town to begin catering to the increasing numbers of millennials. Food & Wine magazine ranked the John T Burger at Hog & Hominy – tagline: Italian Cooking. Southern Roots – as number one best in the entire United States. Vogue magazine voted The Gray Canary by chefs Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer as one of the most anticipated American restaurant openings. Fodor’s Go List 2018 ranked Memphis number 6 out of 52 locations. And, of course, don’t forget the barbecue…
Millennials are increasingly attracted to aspects of life in Memphis. They’re finding the weather amenable, the job market cooperative, and the laid-back atmosphere in line with their ideals and conducive to their comfort. Fully one-third of the 600,000 population in the main city are millennials (aged about 25 to 40-ish), many of whom arrived in the last five to ten years.
So, for them and the rest of us non-millennials, why visit Memphis now? Milton Howery, the young and vibrant public relations manager of Memphis Travel, says visitors can immerse themselves in its history, the ongoing culinary revolution, and of course, the Memphis music scene. Along with the legendary Beale Street, the city is rich with music venues that present not just the classics of soul and blues, but also the newer tunes that many millennials crave. Memphis museums honor the city’s deep history, from the Civil War and on to more recent events. Mark your itinerary to include visits to the National Civil Rights Museum, the Blues Hall of Fame, the Memphis Heritage Trail, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, among others.
Unique lodgings abound in Memphis. You can stay at the guest house at Graceland, a new facility built across from the famous mansion. Or the Big Cypress Lodge at Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in downtown Memphis. Or choose one of many other four star hotels under construction or in the planning. Getting around while you’re there can be fun. Consider using the bike-share program to make the Big River Crossing, new in 2018. It’s the longest pedestrian and bike crossing bridge over the Mississippi. And also the city now has Birds – personal motorized scooters. These things look much easier to use for us baby boomers then the Segways like we have in Chicago. A really fun way to get around.
Ride your scooter down to where the trolley is blowing its whistle through downtown Memphis. Instead of having to find an official bike storage rack, you can leave your Bird anywhere in the city and the service will find it and pick it up. The city is celebrating its Bicentennial in 2019 that’ll have the city hopping with music and activities. You can stay at the Peabody Hotel as it celebrates its 150-year Legacy as the South’s finest hotel. And don’t miss the Crosstown Concourse. It’s a building that used to be a giant warehouse but is now home to art galleries, retail and even some overnight accommodations. Beautiful lights and lots of activity.
It’s a rising area, it’s a welcoming city, and the sky’s the limit for where it’s $3.5 billion investment is going to take it. It’s a good time to visit Memphis and observe firsthand its continuing dramatic revitalization. And direct flights from Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Nashville and others mean it’s easy to get there.
Travel, fun and curiosities for Chicago women over 50