Mama came to visit me in Chicago. I rode the train to O'Hare to go meet her. But, O'Hare is big, and she got in a little earlier than expected. We both had cell phones, but still it took us a while to identify a unique place we could both find our way to.
The above picture is us on the train back downtown. Mama had some blueberries from Oregon. She had packed a lot in her lunch, and had some leftover. I ate them all up while we rode the train. Some people say we look alike. Some people say we don't.
We are only 24 years apart in age, which seems like a smaller gap with every passing year!
The first thing we did, the next day, was a midday excursion to the Field Museum.
Mom liked the elephants. I like them too. We saw the Mammoths and Mastedons exhibit, and the thing I liked best was their molars.
Just one big molar on each side. They lived about as long as we do (now), and ground through all three sets of molars. It's strange how we usually have our third molars surgically removed. It's too bad we can't save them for when we're old and our teeth start falling out, making room for them.
That night we went to Tapas Valencia for dinner. It was very crowded, so we sat on one of the front tables by the bar. Not quite as comfortable as the dine room, but we had our own little alcove. We got too much food, but it was really good: gazpacho, scallops with couscous, sliced duck breast, lamb on wild mushrooms, shrimp with garlic and lemon, stuffed portabello, sliced ham with a salsa-like relish, paella, sangria...
The next day we were having a potluck in the evening. We got some lettuce and cherries at the farmer's market, then the rest of the supplies at the grocery. We cleaned and cooked in the morning, then Pocket of Bolts and I watched the US get crushed by Ghana in soccer. Mom took a funny series of pictures of us. This is the last one, when the defeat is starting to seem inevitable.
At least the party cheered us up some. It was a good party!
On Sunday, we went to Ikea, always a treat! Mom and Dad were buying us a house-warming gift, and we were pretty keen on getting a new dining room table. Our old one is very nice, but just doesn't fit our place very well stylistically. Here's the new one. It will look better when we get the detritus from the old table out of the way, but this is a first look. We also got the chairs. They are surprisingly comfortable, and we thought they looked really cool. The effect in general is to make our dining area look much bigger and brighter.
(If I look a bit gloomy in the above picture, it has nothing to do with the table... just a hard day at work on Monday!)
As you can imagine, getting the table and all the chairs, plus other purchases, into the back of the rented Honda Element was quite the challenge. Here's me holding up many pounds of glass and metal while things get slid under it.
The other thing we got at Ikea, long overdue, was some storage solutions for our lousy master bedroom closet. We were thinking about replacing the whole thing, but I convinced Pocket of Bolts that we should first try a less radical solution. I wish I had before-after pictures to show what a hideous mess it was initially... But in any case, so far our new (and quite cheap) solution is working very well. Pocket of Bolts gets the bins on top, which only he can reach, and I get the bins on the bottom, because I am lower to the ground.
We had dinner with our neighbors in the building, but both Pocket of Bolts and mom were feeling a little under the weather. Also, our neighbor talks like crazy!! It's strange, the feeling that someone is really not all that interested in anything you have to say, just mostly in talking at you. I felt unusually frustrated with it. Often, it's kind of relaxing (so little expected of you, you can just kind of sit back and listen). But there's a certain emptiness in such unidirectional communication. It makes you feel like you might as well be watching TV or something.
Monday I went to work all day. I felt bad about it, but it was the end of the fiscal year, and there was a bunch of stuff I had to take care of. Mama is so self-sufficient, though--she got herself to Millennium Park to look at the Bean, and then went on the Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour. She seemed to have had a good time--a better time than I had stuck in my office, for sure!
I stopped and got steaks on the way home. Mom went to a yoga class one of my other friends had invited her to. If she lived here, she would make friends a lot more quickly than I have! I have so many opportunities to make friends--just not even a fraction of her level of social energy.
Tuesday we went to the Art Institute. It was lovely as always. Pocket of Bolts and I are *both* members now, so I got mom in free and we also had coffee in the Member Lounge when we got tired. We looked at the Chinese collection, which is like an old friend to me now, and then at the impressionists and other modern-ish stuff. Here's a picture of mama with Ganesh:
I also particularly liked the "Beggar with Oysters (Philosopher)." I must have seen it before, but it made much more of an impression on me since I've been wanting so much to eat oysters lately!
Tuesday night we saw a very lovely movie at the Siskel, The Secret of Kells. It was hand-animated and so beautiful. It made our eyes all starry, so that everything we saw afterward looked especially wonderful.
On the way to dinner, we happened to encounter the Chagall mosaic. Mom liked it a lot.
Pocket of Bolts doesn't like Chagall, but consented to have a photo taken in front of it anyway, ha ha.
We had dinner at a venerable old restaurant called Italian Village. Maybe objectively a little cheesey, but on that particular night really quite charming. The food was very tasty too, fried calamari, salad, canneloni with cream sauce, shrimp on angelhair pasta, and chicken stuffed with prosciutto. For dessert, a cannolo, a tiramiso, and some spumoni (for me, because I was way too full for anything solid!). Here's what the restaurant looked like, just a cell phone picture, but you kind of get the idea.
Wednesday, mama's last full day in Chicago, we dropped by school so I could show her my office, then went off the Willis Tower (Sears Tower). I had never been on the glass ledges before. I was not at all scared, really more like thrilled.
Mama looking out over the city.
Later we went to the zoo. A thing we saw that I had never seen before was the pygmy hippo! Usually it just looks like a tank full of fish! The pygmy hippo was very cute but it did something extremely rude in the water shortly after these pictures were taken. The crowd scattered, shrieking.
The giraffe was stretching its neck up as high as it could get and still not reaching the lowest branches. Not an accident, I assume, since all the ones it could reach had already been eaten. Still, it looked neat.
After the hectic zoo experience, we spent a little time relaxing in the conservatory. I love going to the zoo, but it always makes me deeply tired. I think it's the vast number of moving parts all moving in one's visual field. The plants were very still and nice.
Last picture, of mom chilling with the Bard.
It was really fun having her visit, not least because it motivated me to go out and see a bunch of stuff I would not ordinarily have seen. But now I am extra tired!!