Heat waves

Jul 5, 2002

Whew! The heat wave has past, and this ancient house we’re in is now cooled enough to let me sit at the computer (a Mac, no less) and finally update the Chronicles. It’s been a long, hot few weeks, and my waking hours have been devoted to finding shaded parks and cool pools for little Anna and me to flee to. My apologies to our regular readers who have visited the site for news of the clan – Anyone out there? – and my gratitude to those of you who have called to encourage me to add to the site.

I do now have pictures in a format that allows me to upload them to the site. I’ll try to put a couple up tonight ? look for more in the coming days.

Zuikers have been mobile this summer. Joel took an Alaska cruise with a buddy of his, a priest friend who got to bring along Joel for free in exchange for being the ship?s chaplain for a week. Joel tried for months to interest someone, anyone, in ordering a totem pole, but to no avail. Instead, Joel won $400 in a contest of some sort. My mother, Cheryl, is crisscrossing the Eastern states in search of her next job, and is hoping to find a position in Cleveland or the Chapel Hill area. My dad is flying into Chicago next weekend, and will spend 4 days with us here in Oak Park before taking Grandma Zuiker to Rhode Island to visit Dot?s parents. I saw Grandma a couple of weeks ago at Jeff and Kate Nolan’s, in nearby Berwyn. Grandma was headed to Sue?s for two weeks while Linda and Patrick and the family traveled through South Carolina and Georgia in search of new stomping grounds. We?re awaiting their decision on where they?ll move. Jeff and Kate are making improvements to their home by finishing the attic; TJ and Chris, meanwhile, are finishing their basement. Both families have adorable children, and little Anna has had a grand time playing with her cousins.

Our friend, Erika Rundiks, came to visit with her darling daughter, Isla. Erika and her husband, Kevin Anderson, have been our friends since our days in the Peace Corps in Vanuatu. The day before Erika came to visit, I purchased three cases of mangoes at the supermarket. Mangoes, of course, were everywhere in Vanuatu, and so Erika’s presence in the home here coincided nicely with the aroma of ripe mango. Erika helped me make a batch of mango jam, to go with the strawberry jam Joanne Shaughnessy helped me make in Cleveland last month. These jams are mighty tasty, but oh so sweet; lots and lots of sugar gets mixed with the fresh fruit, but hey, Target has good prices on toothpaste, so let’s indulge. Erika, who has a degree in interior design, treated me to a tour of the nearby Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, an amazing work of art and architecture, I?ve been trying to run or drive past various of the other Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park and River Forest; I feel lucky to have this opportunity.

This week I popped down to the Field Museum of Natural History to see the exhibit Chocolate. If you read my earlier posting about chocolate, you knew I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to learn all about my addiction. The exhibit was quite interesting ? I learned how Europe?s taste for sweetened chocolate gave rise to the sugar plantations and, hence, the slave trade – and when it travels to other museums, I suggest you see it. After salivating over the chocolate, I went upstairs to the Pacific Spirits exhibit, which has an impressive collection of artifacts from Vanuatu. I wandered through the hall looking at drums and masks and war clubs and pig?s teeth that, for two years, were part of my life, and I wanted so much to be back on Paama island. Just last week we arranged for our fellow Volunteers, Chad and Kristin Metzler, to take to Vanuatu a sum of cash meant for the education of Enna and Mereva, the daughters of my recently deceased ?brother,? Noel. In the exhibit was a recording of a song about World War II, in Bislama (the pidgin English that is the lingua franca of Vanuatu), and when I heard that string band crooning in Bislama, I nearly wept, partly for Noel and partly for me.

Speaking of tears, Oprah, of course, bases her empire here in Chicago. Sara Brant, a good friend of Katherine Shaughnessy, now works for Oprah as a producer of the website that accompanies her daily show. Congratulations, Sara, and all the best. Erin met Sara for lunch one day at the studio, and reports that Oprah, while demanding excellence from her employees, also treats them quite well.

I learned recently that some of my hard work was recognized. The Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards, presented by the Cleveland Press Club, can be seen at http://www.pressclubcleveland.com/2002%20winners.pdf. See page 16 for Best in Ohio: Columns. I, along with my editor, Dennis Dooley, and Live?s art director, Ben Small, was awarded a Second prize for my monthly column in Northern Ohio Live called Inventing the Future.

Lastly, in the July 8th issue of the New Yorker Magazine, an article about obituaries is a worthy read, especially if you regularly read the death stories in your local newspaper. Ever since Frank the Beachcomber passed away, I?ve been reading obituaries, and celebrating the lives of people I’ve never known, and this has made me cherish the lives of my friends and family all the more. That, in a nutshell, is why the Zuiker Chronicles Online exists.

Anton Zuiker

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