Category Archives: Chicago museums

Chicago premieres arts program to help early-stage Alzheimer’s

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Chicago arts program helps early-stage Alzheimer’s and others

This June 15 Chicago is pioneering a new arts-inspired idea. Arts Camp for Brain Health is a half-day workshop just for those with early-stage memory loss, diminished cognitive and neuro-motor function, and those who care for them. The goal is to help attendees experience new ways to feel their best through artistic endeavors. Several of Chicago’s most-respected arts institutions are participating (see listing below).

Attendees will choose from programs that consist of discussion and hands-on activities in seven areas: adaptive dance, rhythmicity with drumming, improv theater, video biographies, modern portraits, stained glass and singing. At only $10 a person, this is a unique opportunity both for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other conditions that limit cognitive or neuro-motor abilities, and for their caregivers.
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This collaborative effort is a significant achievement for arts organizations that were already offering this kind of programming, but hadn’t previously thought to tailor it to this particular target group, according to Stacey Foisy, creator and co-chair of the undertaking. Potentially a model for other cities, the workshop will take place right here in Chicago on June 15 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave. Get more details and register here.
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*Brain Camp participating organizations:
Art Institute of Chicago, Boomers Plus, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Loyola University Museum of Art, Northwestern Medicine-Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Old Town School of Folk Music, and Video Family Biographies.
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3 green gift ideas 2017

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As more and more people become aware of the impact our disposable society is making on our mother Earth, the more it makes sense to give gifts that can be re-used. And while a reusable fabric grocery bag will always be a good idea, it’s not inspiring as a gift item. So we’ve tested a few things that do fall into the green category and yet should please the recipient while making you feel good, too. Here are a few choices.
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1.  Who doesn’t love the vibrant, saturated colors of good markers? No need to press really hard to get them, either. Kids love them compared to crayons. Now there’s a product, WIPENOTE Dry/wet erasable notebook, that you and your grandkids can have fun and get creative with using the intense lines of markers – and then erase and start all over again. I remember how jealous I was of those dry erase boards our teachers used to have when we late-boomers were little – how much I wished I could have one at home.
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WipeNote drawing of cover for my cookbook/memoir

Today that type of board is available everywhere. But  WIPENOTE Dry/wet Erasable Notebook, one of several of products by Beyouneeq.com, is portable and protectable. You get 50 pages of pristine whiteboard-type surfaces to produce your work – from pretty scribbles and beautiful drawings to mind maps that help organize your thinking. Any time you love what you draw/design/create, take a picture with your phone to save it forever, and wipe the page for a fresh start next time. There’s something freeing about knowing that you can easily erase and start over – in the sense that you don’t need to be afraid about doing something flawlessly. Even just erase a line or a section and re-do it to your satisfaction. Check out the hand-drawn cover (above left) that I imagined for my cookbook/memoir, complete with raggedy sketch of vegetables.

Tools to use for drawing//writing/designing:
  • For dry erase – all kinds  of dry erase markers will work. Pick your colors and go for it.
  • For wet erase they recommend  Vis-a-Vis wet erase markers by EXPO. For all other needs – Lumocolor correctable dry erase pen Nr.305 F-9 (Made in Germany by Staedler and included with the notebook).
  • Any correctable marker should work. Correctable markers can remain erasable for a long time, up to 6-12 months. But if it doesn’t come off easily with a pen tip or damp cloth, removal is easy with the EXPO’s non toxic whiteboard spray remover.
Both sides of the cool tool called Bump It Off

2.  Or how about the unique BUMP IT OFF tool made by The Goddess of Gadgets? This is a multi-functional cleaning aid that’s made of bright-colored silicone that looks like it will last forever. The company’s materials suggest the Bump It Off has many cleaning uses around the home. We tried a few and found it was especially good at getting pet hair out of fabric. No more need to take off your dress pants to sit on the couch!

You may find some uses work better for you than others, so check this list and see which ones work best:
  • Use either the big bumpy side or the fine bristle side, depending on how delicate your fabric is – to loosen and lift stubborn stains from clothes and upholstery.
  • Keep your rugs and floors cleaner longer by using the fine bristle side to wipe your shoes clean when you come in the house. Works on all types of shoe materials, from suedes to woven fabrics, and even to clean the soles of your shoes
  • Clean fruits and vegetables—use the fine bristle side to gently but thoroughly brush away dirt on strawberries, mushrooms and more.
  • Use the side that fits the size of your pet to groom your dog, cat, bunny or whatever. Many pets will enjoy the massage, and you’ll be amazed at the loose hairs/fur you’ll get out.
  • Self-massage is a powerful relaxing method, and this handy tool makes it more fun. Use the big bump side in the shower to exfoliate, massage and refresh your skin.
  • Amazing to see how much dirt and grime – and probably bacteria, too! – come rolling out when you soap up your makeup brushes rub them against the fine bristle side The little silicone bristles get deeper into the fibers of your brushes than if you just wash them by hand.
Bendiware at the beach

3.  And then there are the new BPA-free “Bendiware” wineglasses that you can scrunch up and take anywhere without worrying about broken plastic or glass. Drink your lemonade or wine or whatever out of super-flexible silicone cups that come in sets of 2 ($16.95) or 4 ($24.95), all in rich colors or in white that are both freezer and dishwasher safe. Mush these glasses up to fit in your bag or even your pocket and, when you take them out, voila! they revert to perfect stemless wineglass shapes. Perfect for dining outside in your backyard, for camping, by the swimming pool, or just hitting one of Chicago’s many summertime outdoor events. Beats a paper cup any day, and you can re-use these indefinitely.

And by the way, it doesn’t have to be summer in Chicago to have a picnic in lush green surroundings. The beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory, operated by the Chicago Park District, has patio areas where you can bring your own food and enjoy it in the oxygen-rich atmosphere of this extraordinarily lush collection of multiple rooms of artfully arranged plants and pools and fountains. No charge. Bring your sandwiches or salads, silverware – even a tablecloth if you’re so minded – and pour your beverages into your Bendiware glasses. Your grandkids will love the children’s area, too.
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Shedd Aquarium on the move

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Shedd rescue penguins at play
Shedd rescue penguins at play

Did you know that Chicago’s own Shedd Aquarium rescues wounded, abandoned or otherwise trouble animals from the wild? One of their favorite rescue animals is the penguin. Shedd staffers work with local scientists to rescue them and rehabilitate them. Shedd even maintains a mini-habitat of penguins at Lurie Children’s Hospital so the kids can enjoy watching wildlife close up.

Nickel heading down
Nickel heading down

One of the many wonders at Shedd is a huge look-up-and-be-amazed round aquarium tank that sits in the middle of a two-floor exhibit. There you’ll see a once-seriously wounded but now seemingly very happy sea turtle whose back legs don’t work because of an encounter with propeller blades. Yet she propels herself just fine around the environment, even working up extra enthusiasm to push herself deep under the water using only her front legs. Her name is Nickel because, when she was rescued, she had a nickel stuck in her throat. And she’s a testament to the resilience of life in all its forms.

Don’t miss the shark exhibit. There’s nothing to compare to watching these creatures from ancient times as they glide noiselessly around their huge tank. The Shedd shark expert has 31 years in the industy, so she can tell you a lot about them. She explains that they are studying microbiome of water with a view to understanding more about the  11 species of shark they keep here. Regular feedings by keepers – the sharks respond instantly when shown a specific shape and given an audio cue – keep them from attacking their fishy tankmates for meal fodder.

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The atmosphere is warm and slightly humid on some of the floors. Everywhere you can gaze at your leisure at the sea creatures in all sizes hanging out in habitats that closely approximate their homes in the wild. Watch a shark embryo moving and growing inside its protective cocoon. Marvel at the colors and the shapes of dozens of other varieties of fish and mollusks. The watery exhibits are in many cases breathtakingly lovely and the gently bubbling or moving water is soothing to the spirit.
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Baby dolphin Makoa swims close to mom
Baby dolphin Makoa swims close to mom

Shedd recently facilitated the birth of a baby dolphin in captivity and invited the public to participate in a naming contest this past July. Thirty-four hundred people participated and voted for Makoa, which means fearless.

Back-legless iguana uses 3-D prosthetic
Back-legless iguana uses 3-D prosthetic

Shedd experts also have a 3-D printer that actually creates artificial limb replacements out of rubberized material; we saw one for their back-left-legless iguana. Fascinating to see the half dozen iterations they had to go through before they got the size and the flexibility just right. And now the iguana struts around his area like he owns the place.

Shedd offers multiple levels of membership. Give as much or as little as fits your budget and get free entrance and dozens of other perks. It’s a really special place in Chicago that you can’t fully appreciate until you’ve had a relaxed visit there.
And be aware that the CTA will take you right to and from their door. No need to pay big bucks for parking. It’s called the Museum Campus bus and you can plan out your route via the RTA Trip Planner.
P.S. For your viewing pleasure, a few more photos:

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