Monthly Archives: April 2017

Zen and Life


Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968

Robert Pirsig, the author of the mid-1970’s cultural phenom “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, has passed away at his home in Maine.

Part road trip novel, the book is based on a motorcycle trip Pirsig took with his son, Christopher in 1968. The two Pirsigs rode from their home in Minnesota to the Pacific Coast over the course of 17 days.

Pirsig often said that 121 publishing houses passed on “Zen” until William Morrow agreed to publish it. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” would sell over 50,000 copies in the first month of publication, and over 1 million the first year.

Robert Pirsig was 88.


Farm Life


Sunset at the Farm


Bonus-Built


Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

While in Chicago, we visited the Frank Lloyd House & Studio, which is located on Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. FLW built the home in 1889, using a loan of $5000 from his employer Louis Sullivan, to purchase the property and start construction. The home received an extensive remodel and addition in 1895, and the Studio was added to the property in 1898. Both the Home & Studio were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.


Mural and skylight in the children’s playroom

The FLW Preservation Trust currently owns the home and studio. They have restored the property to it’s condition in 1909, when the Wright’s lived there, raising six children.


Lighting, both natural and electric, in the playroom

The home has made use of a lot of stained glass, skylights and indirect natural lighting. Pictures were hard to come by, while on a tour. Our group was 15 strong, which is a full tour group. Many of the rooms, and hallways are quite small, but then open into larger rooms with tall ceilings. It was a challenge to take photos without including members of the tour.

As much as I enjoyed the home, I think I liked the studio even more. It is a wonderful workplace. Two sections of the studio are octagon shaped rooms, connected by the front entry room. FLW’s private office was octagonal, as was the two story room, where the designers and craftsmen worked on projects. If you go, look for the structural chains in the main design room.


The Studio, as seen from across Chicago Ave

The Studio must have been a major presence on Chicago Avenue at the time it was built. No doubt, it offered some wonderful, free advertising. If someone wanted to build a unique and “out-of-the-box” home, a trip down Chicago Avenue would tell you that FLW was worth contacting.

The guided tour lasts about an hour, and is well worth the time, if you are wandering around Oak Park, and looking for something to do.



Hemingway Museum

Located in Oak Park is the Ernest Hemingway Museum. Most of the exhibits focus on Hemingway’s Oak Park years, but there is information that explores all facets of his life. There are two videos playing on a loop, one of which is exclusive to the museum.

The Isle, an exhibit in the center of the museum, covers Hemingway’s time with both the Kansas City Star and the Toronto Star, as well as his love of nature, and how he incorporated that into his writings.

It was an unexpected gem in Chicago, and I highly recommend it if you are in the Oak Park area.

A block and a half from the museum, is the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. A Queen Anne style house, built in 1890 by Hemingway’s grandparents. The home was purchased by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in 1992. A major restoration was then started to bring the home back to the condition it was in when the Hemingways resided there.

It’s a neat house, and well worth the time to tour it. Price of admission to the museum includes the tour of the home. You are free to return a second day to take in all of the exhibits and videos. The volunteers are first rate, and very knowledgeable.