muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today felt like the right balance between responsibilities (laundry, home maintenance, making dinner) and diversions (hanging with friends). I set myself up for success by making plans with Miss Betty. We batted around ideas and settled on The Gundis for brunch. I'd already been there once for dinner, but the portrait of their Kurdish breakfast hat me salivating to try it.

Good god was it a terrific choice. I love their bread--a house-baked wholegrain pita with a slightly crunchy crust--and all I really wanted was to spread things on it. But it comes with eggs, which I decided to get out of the way while they were hot and eat first. They sent me rhapsodising about the glories of simple food prepared just right. I don't understand how anyone can make something as basic as unadorned scrambled eggs taste an order of magnitude better than I've had them almost anywhere else.

The only thing I missed was spreadable cheese. I was hoping for something like labne, but instead it was a trio of feta (fresh, not too salty--my weird Balkan friends would approve), kashar, and mozzarella. (Guess which of those three got the least love.) The second of these paired particularly well with the fig jam. I wasn't wild about the sesame butter at first, but drizzling just a bit of honey over it made all the difference. The tea was surprisingly bitter, but the "Kurdish coffee" (a hot drink made of roasted ground terebinth seeds steeped in milk) more than made up for it.

"You can take your time," Miss Betty enthused. "Everything is served together so you don't have to rush to be ready for the next course." We spent a leisurely couple of hours catching up and gradually stuffing ourselves. It wasn't as busy as I'd feared, which meant we didn't feel at all bad about taking up the time of our server (one of the two Mehmets who started the place) with all manner of questions. I showed him my copy of I stared at the night of the city and he took a picture of it in order to look it up later. And he taught me "Oẍir be!" as we were leaving, but not "Xatira te", which according to my dictionary is what I should've been saying.

It was a pleasant day--partly sunny with occasionally chilly gusts--so we decided to stroll up Broadway for a while. For me, it was an opportunity to see how much it's changed since the days when I used to visit there regularly. It was already plenty gentrified back then, but now even more classic storefronts have ceded to mixed use mid-rises. Still, Reckless is still there, as is Treasure Island, Bookleggers, and other unlikely survivors. (Finally have a copy of Rayuela to not read.)

I got back home only shortly before my next scheduled rendezvous, with my trick from Bear Night a month ago. Call him "Miss Pretty", since he'd like that. He came back last night and we fooled around a while before he headed back to the burbs, but he managed to leave a med alert bracelet on the bookcase and had to return for it. I knew he didn't really have time to come in so I entertained him in the entryway for about half an hour, which was a bantering act between seduction and discretion that had me feeling young again.

The sex isn't great, but it's fun, and we haven't exhausted all the possibilities yet, so I suspect more visits are in the future. I'm already getting a feel for the parts of his personality that could annoy me senseless if I'm not careful, but they're balanced by his ability to make me helpless with laughter. He's got some depth, so I ain't bored yet.
Oct. 18th, 2016 01:11 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Yesterday evening I had amazing CTA karma, narrowly catching a northbound Howard train before it went express at Bryn Mawr. (I paid for it this morning, narrowly missing the last northbound train before an express. C'est la vie.) As a result, I was sitting at the computer typing away my [ profile] monshu digest when I heard the tremendous crunching sound coming from the back of the apartment. I didn't want to look; I figured if another pot had gotten smashed, finding out the following morning was soon enough.

A couple hours later, I was preparing to got to bed and overheard a conversation on the sidewalk just outside. "Holy shit, you're not getting through there!" said one of the two men. So I sprinted upstairs to check and saw what they were talking about: an enormous tree branch blocking the sidewalk. I was actually relieved to see it there and not on the hellstrip, crushing the plants which have defied the odds (and my neglect) to stick out this blistering summer.

It's still windy again today, but not like it was yesterday when I could almost lean into it on Sheridan road. And warm. And humid. A true summer's day in the second half of October. But because this is Chicago, tonight's low (11°C) will be Friday's high. I doubt I'll see another scene like I did last Saturday: a projector set up in the middle of a side street so the neighbours could gather outside to watch the opening game of the NLCS. Ever. (I mean, think of the confluence of factors: Cubs in the postseason, a block party planned for the middle of October, and unseasonably mild and calm weather.)
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Wednesday I had a terrific lunch with my newest colleague where I learned both that we have closely shared tastes in fiction and that the new Chinese place downtown is good. However, I managed to forget the risks of having several cups of oolong with lunch and, as a result, slept pretty fitfully. Then I had to get up early for a start-of-the-day meeting followed directly by an all-staff in a chilly former chapel across the street. But after that I broke free.

It was [ profile] itchwoot's last full day in Chicago and I was flattered that he wanted me to be a part of it. Since it was his clean-up day, I left the itinerary up to him and he announced an interest in the vintage store on Belmont between Clark and Halsted. Remembering his interest in music and a conversation we had about grits, I suggested combining this with a meal at Wishbone and a trip to Reckless. It was like a trip back to my misspent youth.

As always, though, I misjudged the distance from the Belmont station to Lincoln and the interest value of that stretch. I was completely surprised by the huge construction pit on the northeast corner; whatever complex they're building there, I'm sure it's going to be just awful. Lunch at Wishbone, though, was anything but. They do their seafood chowder the wrong way (i.e. with tomato sauce), but their fried green tomatoes are almost as good as Dixie Kitchen's and their crabcakes are better.

Even though I promised we'd take the bus back, I needed a little time before I was ready to rise. Reckless had moved, but only down the block and across the street. We spent over an hour there pawing through shelves of CD inserts in small mylar sleeves, so I would call that a success. We spent at least as much time at Hollywood Mirror, which wore on me as we inched toward 4 p.m. and my damn backpack kept getting heavier. Still, I offered up the comics store up the corner, but his response was "Lassn uns mal in ein Café".

I couldn't think of a good spot nearby and, since his next stop was Loyola anyway, I decided we'd get a jump on rush hour and head directly up to Granville so we could visit Metropolis. At this point, his tiredness was finally beginning to show a bit as well and the conversation drooped at times, but we managed not to push things past the point of diminishing returns before the time came to walk him up to [ profile] dedos' and say our farewells.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
The only real failure of this year's Pilsen trip was tamales. Specifically that we didn't come back with any. I'd mooted the idea of stopping in at Día de los Tamales on 18th, but that was more of a hike than the Old Man was up to. We thought we might find a good postprandial pick-me-up at Café Monsiváis, but it was all savouries so we abandoned it for Panaderia Nuevo León across the street.

It was worth it for the experience alone. The woman behind the counter was a stitch. As we waited in line, she said something in Spanish about how much she loved Sundays because "everyone comes to visit me". We were behind an adolescent with a huge tray of assorted pastries. After he'd paid up, he had his head turned talking to a girl and your woman had to say, "Baby you chane!" three times to get his attention again.

I was worried about having no pan de muertos, so we made a run to Bombón first thing. It was a one-man show and the poor guy seemed flustered to have anyone else in the bakery with him. Eventually he brought out two medium panes and we bought them both. Thanks to [ profile] monshu's terrible influence, this also probably marks the first time I've left Bombón without a pastel tres leches.

Going to and from the store brought us past Bistro 18, in the old Mundial space. Here was where we'd planned to eat lunch and I was more worried about a crowd there than at the museum, so even though it wasn't yet noon we grabbed a table at the window. Sunlight was streaming in and I was almost steaming before even ordering a cafe con leché. Since it was still early, I decided to go for coconut french toast even though the grilled fish was what really appealed, but [ profile] monshu got the combo. It took only a couple of bites of this to convince me I needed to order a fish taco of my own, which was generous enough to constitute two at basically anywhere else I've eaten.

Service was slow for no apparent reason, however, so it was almost one by the time we made it to the museum. Still not as crowded as I feared. As usual, there was quite a range of ofrendas, starting with a three-tiered construction from Huaquechula in Puebla which is easily the most elabourate I've ever seen. Only a short wall separated it from a nearly postmodern altar to masked wrestler El Santo, who died in 1984. For some reason, there was a plethora of throwbacks this year, including Selena and Anthony Quinn. For the student-teachers slain in the massacre at Iguala, the excuse can be made that at this time last year, there was still hope of finding them alive. The memorial to them was so powerful it had me choking back tears.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Chuas go dtí an tráigh aniogh. Do bhí an aimsir ar fheabhas: do bhí grian ann agus brothall ar an lá ach beochan lách gaoithe leis. Agus gach éinne ansan. Ar éigean dob'fhéidir teacht suas le héinne. Dúradh liom go raibh na Doirigh ansan achnní bhfuaireas amharc orthu.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Do réitigh an Seanfhear Fionn béile breá de bhradán rósta is cál ceannan agus d'itheamair ar an bpóirse é. Tá fionnuartas air ach an méid chéanna taiseachais san aer. Ar fhilleadh as mo chuid spaisteoireachta dhom do bhaineas díom mo léine. Ba mhian liom dul go dtí an tráigh amáireach.
Aug. 3rd, 2015 03:58 pm

Coming down

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Nothing worked out according to plan yesterday and it was a great day all the same.

I crammed all chores into Saturday in order to have the whole day free. Originally, Fig was supposed to stop by around 10:30 to drop off some plants and we'd go out to brunch after. But as our romp at Touché began to stretch later into the wee hours, "10:30" became "11:30" became "I'll call you". Ultimately, he made it by quarter after 11, but with everything he wanted to get done still brunch had to give way.

My plans for the afternoon involved walking the sand with Alex the Great, but we hadn't gone beyond "call you after brunch". So I called, found him free, and arranged to meet him for lunch at 1. I don't think I'd seen him in over a year, and it was good to catch up. He mentioned something in passing about how sorry he was to see Athena's store close and when I told him he'd reopened only a few blocks away, he insisted we pay a visit (something the GWO and I had attempted two weeks before only to find the place closed).

Athena was his usual high wattage self, happy to see both of us. His new shop is several times smaller than the old one, so the crush is somewhat overwhelming; literally every time I turned around, I would notice something I hadn't before. When the customers weren't looking, he'd be dancing in the shop. An hour flew by, and about the time I thought I should be moving on if I wanted to make it to the beach for prime sunning and socialising hours, I noticed that the sky had gone suddenly dark.

Alex decided to skitter on home, but I thought I'd be better off waiting out the storm in the shop. It poured for about half an hour while Athena and I chatted candidly. We also started talking business, since he had a table for sale that looked like it fit our needs. In fact, [ profile] monshu had left the house a little before me with the goal of working his way through the antiques shops on Broadway and part of the reason I lingered was the outside possibility that he'd reach us before turning back. It took a while to contact him, and when I did I wasn't surprised to find that he was already home.

He liked the piece, though, and I bought it. Athena said he's drop it by after close, so with the sun out again there was, in theory, no reason why I couldn't continue with my plans. But given the time at which the storm cell cleared the beach, I figured most of the boys would've just moved on to their evening destinations already, thus undermining any reason to go. And I was enjoying the attention from the gleeful Greek, who I'd never had a chance to chat with alone before nor for so long. At some point, Coleman came along and bantering with him made me feel better about excluding him from cocktails the night before.

When closing time finally did roll around and Athena dropped me by the house, I was stunned to see the destruction. The downpour down in Edgewater was a powerful microburst just over the border in Rogers Park. There was an uprooted tree leaning against a brownstone on our street and it seemed every larger maple or ash had lost a limb or two--including, of course, the ones on our corner. After dinner, I went out with the pruners and hacked one down enough that I was at least able to get it off the sidewalk, but there's more work to be done tonight.

It was while I was doing this that I learned about the damage one block over. Apparently, an SUV had been in motion when a branch struck the driver's side of the windshield and crystalised it. In any case, it was jackknifed in the middle of the street between two parked cars, both of which were smothered in fallen branches. When the second storm hit around 10:30, I saw a Streets & San truck headed that way, but as of this morning nothing had been removed.

Cleaning up the mess is going to take a while. Coming in to work this morning, I found a tree had fallen across Arthur between Magnolia and Lakewood, completely blocking through traffic. Just in the minute or two it took me to walk by, I saw two cars turn in, realise their error, and turn around. As I was crossing, a woman in an SUV at the corner asked if the street was obstructed and I told her there was no way she was going to be able to get through.

By comparison, damage seems modest up here--nothing like that microburst that struck the south meadow a few years back. There was one big old oak with rot in the trunk that came down near the outer fence. Workman were already on the scene as I came in this morning making quick work of it. I plan to take a stroll now and see if the parts to the north of us fared as well.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Apparently there are fires burning all over the Prairie Provinces today. How this became apparent to me is the strange haze floating between us and the sun this morning. At first I thought it was just fog, but the odd quality of the light falling on the sidewalks was unmistakable. It looked very much like the light from the type of low-pressure sodium streetlamps favoured by the City of Chicago. But that light is cool, whereas whenever I stepped out of the shade on my route, my skin immediately felt warm--you know, like from regular sunlight. It was all a bit uncanny.

Somehow I managed to forget what time I actually left the house and very nearly missed the shuttle, which had already pulled out but was stopped at the next light. I ran without dignity and caught it. The driver was amused. "I'm feeling generous today." For the second week in a row, it wasn't the regular guy, so I guess he's found a new shift? Fortunately, he's as good a driver, if not better, so it'll be my own fault if I continue not to get any reading done.

I'm near the end of my book of Basque short stories and pondering what to start next. In the interim, I polished off a collection of four short pieces by Bessie Head and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. One of these read like a selection from Petals of blood but wasn't identified as such. Then again, the prefatory material was pretty useless (except for getting a biographical sketch of Head, who wasn't on my radar before).

I kind of want to start Detectivos salvajes instead. Diego told me he's reading it (which is odd--I thought he'd read it already) and it took only a few pages to remind me what a terrific writer Bolaño is. I kinda wanna finish the Rodoreda first because I'm closer than I've ever been in nearly thirty years. I could read both, of course, but doing both Spanish and Catalan simultaneously seems like a recipe for certain confusion.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today I was given a second second chance. The weather was predicted to be chilly and rainy (which I belatedly realised is what I had been wishing it would be Friday or Saturday in order to better suit my homebound lethargy), but the morning was gorgeous. I announced my intention to visit Andersonville and the Old Man proposed accompanying me to La Colombe. I had a gâteau basque and a mocha, which was enough to convince me that I like their pastries but don't care for their coffee, and took up a strategic location where I good views out both sets of windows. So much stroller meat! It reminded me of the punchline of that hoary Jewish joke, "What do you need so many goyim for?"

Afterwards, we hit Middle Eastern and I left him holding the bag as I trotted up Clark Street. First stop was the bookstore, where I found a remaindered copy of a reprint of a quirky American Indian book; second was the bank, where I loaded up on cash; and third was Gethsemane, where I bought a pot herb and some seeds. Between each station, I ran into some I knew--first someone who'd shadowed me at work back when he was studying for a library degree, then a couple from work. Then I returned home through Edgewater Glen, where I saw the first bridal wreath of the season as well as an immense cherry in full bloom.

The herb was lemon thyme, and rather than plant it outside while there's still danger of frost (however minor) I repotted it for the windowsill. I still prepared our plot and seeded it with salad greens while we decide what we want to try to grow this year. Little seems to have survived. The chives are going strong, but the sorrel, woodruff, and lemon balm are just emerging. I ripped out the garlic chives we never use and transferred some catnip from the adjoining plot (soon to be taken over by the nice couple upstairs) to a pot which I may or may not bury later.

Early spring is over and the grounds are waking up. The black-eyed susans did survive the winter after all, as did the shrubs in the front lawn (including the GWO's hated bayberry). Not only is the kerria coming back to life, it has some fat buds on it. The tulips are also in bud, and I'm chuffed to see that every one of the bulbs I buried survived. No sign of the bluestar, unless that's the mysterious plant coming up in the hellstrip.

By now it was early afternoon and quite cloudy, so I broke for lunch, called my brother, and read some. I've taken the plunge on Tanpınar, whose discursive style isn't exactly engrossing but is pretty enough without getting too florid. In addition, [ profile] monshu, impatient for the publication of The book of strange new things in softcover, acquired a couple of Michel Faber novels and I read the first chapter of Under the skin. Looks like good shuttle reading.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Eight days of No-stress Christmas? Why not? After all, the feasting and celebrating hasn't come to an end yet. Though it was far from clear I'd get any feasting in today. As usual after a late arrival, I was too wound up to sleep even after our guests left. I forced myself to sleep in an extra hour, but then I decided to make some oatmeal and generally return to routine. But by 11 a.m. I could hardly keep my eyes open and, shortly before noon, crept into bed despite the imminent arrival of [ profile] innerdoggie and [ profile] tyrannio.

As a surprise treat, when they did arrive, they had [ profile] princeofcairo and [ profile] mollpeartree in tow. They'd all attempted a visit to the odd Eritrean place on Devon. They hadn't mentioned this to us in advance, so we were unable to warn them that it had (recently?) closed. Fortunately, a newish place, Awash, is just around the corner, so the day was saved. I was in and out of the room making tea, so I didn't hear how good it was overall. It was a really pleasant visit, but it just about did [ profile] monshu in and he retired immediately afterwards.

Our somewhat on-again off-again bear couple friends in Rogers Park had invited me to an open house/game day at their new place on Morse and--though I warned them it would all depend on what the Old Man needed--I really intended to go. [ profile] monshu still doesn't have much appetite and is content with half a hotdog for dinner, so the only cooking I did was for myself, in order that the filet mignon he bought for Christmas Day doesn't go to waste.

But even though he didn't need me, I struggled to get myself going. I found myself planted in front of the computer for hours listening to Swedish indie pop. Every twenty minutes or so, I would apprehensively note how late it was getting, resolve to clean up and head out, and then do nothing for another twenty minutes. Finally, with barely two hours on the invitation left to go, I hurled myself into the shower, tied a ribbon around a newly-gifted container of tea neither of us wants, and threw on some clothes. By a stroke of luck, I caught the northbound bus and was there in under 10 minutes.

Their place is so unassuming (and poorly-signed) I walked past it twice. Inside, it is phenomenal. Most everyone was in wood-panelled finished attic--the "Bear Eyrie"--at one of two tables. I found JB explaining the rules of Seven Wonders to a crowd of strangers and plopped myself down behind him on the couch. One wonder (the Lighthouse of Alexandria) was unclaimed and, despite having to pick up the rules in the course of play, I through myself into the game and ended up respectably in the middle rank.

At one point, someone called attention to the four large eyelets screwed into the two rafters above the seating pit. JB related a conversation he'd had with his spouse before the party:
ND: We should hang something from there.
JB: You mean like a sling?
ND: I was thinking something Christmassy.
JB: You mean like a Christmas sling?
So not for this gathering, but one hopes maybe for the future.

Afterwards, I was introduced to a simple fast card game called "Pairs" which I think I need to buy for my nephews. This brought us to the official end of the night and, though I urged them to tell us all to go home, our hosts dismissed the notion. JB even broke out a game called Slash which is essentially Cards Against Humanity fornicates with fanfic. His enthusiasm noticeably dimmed before the end, and an hour later he was kicking us all out of his house.

I ended up walking back to the Morse El station with the only other guest I could tell for certain was homo. He's also in [ profile] vianegativa's upcoming game, so we chatted about our characters along the way. It gave me some hints on how to distribute points, but I spent most of the stroll back elaborating her political philosophy. I doubt it will come up in play (and it shouldn't, since it behooves her to be secretive about it) but I wanted to give her anarchism some intelligent underpinning so it's not just a cheap punchline.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today fall came back for the briefest of visits. The official high was 10°C and if you were standing in the sun in a sheltered spot, it felt even warmer. We took advantage of it by making two trips to Andersonville, one in the morning to dispense with the weekly "Clark errands" and one in the evening for dinner at Ombra. In between, I slipped on a flannel shirt and some work gloves and seized the last chance to get some gardening done.

At this point, it's basically cleanup. I filled the compost with slimy hosta leaves and dessicated lemon balm stems. As I was making a pile of the dead catnip, the neighbour's cat came along and made herself comfortable in it and I left her to it as I pruned back the clematis. I also took some snips from the smoketree and the lilacs, but more work will be needed before they're properly shaped. Finally, I took down the hanging baskets, tossed out the dead greens, and potted up the ivy to take indoors. (The wirevine was a dead loss, of course.) The warmth had thawed the top inch or so, but I had to hack through the frozen soil beneath.

Among the places we visited on the morning trip were Gethsemane, where we picked up a wreath and some decorative stems, and La Colombe, which is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. (Maybe next time I won't be adjusting to new medications and can try a cup of their coffee.) In evening I popped into Alley Cat Comics and scored a Bechdel graphic novel for half off and we visited Walgreens for some soap and Kleenex only to find a raving crazy lady screaming at a cashier for supposedly withholding her cigarettes.

Dinner was good. I talked the prick of a host into giving us one of the prime booths so the Old Man would feel comfortable and chatted up the bartender about aperitifs. She recommended the Carpano Bianco and we liked it so much we went out in search of it afterwards, but no one seems to be carrying it yet. But the real pleasure of the meal was just sitting and feeling cozy with [ profile] monshu. It was his way of rewarding me for my "help" over the past week and I couldn't ask for a better one.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
The weather definitely took a turn last night. Earlier when the temps officially dropped below freezing, the plantings around our building looked unaffected, leading me to believe that our microclime had mitigated the effects. But the fennel has definitely had it and possibly the catnip as well. The upstairs couple's poor dahlia was caught in the middle of putting forward a blossom that will never open now. The remaining leaves on the maples around us are all dropping as if on cue. [ profile] monshu bought a new space heater for the sunroom and he's been reading there in the comfy chair. This morning I found him there with the bright sunshine behind him and yellow leaves raining down like ticker tape.

Yesterday morning was dim and overcast. If not for the narrow strip of greenish grass between the road and the sidewalk, the view of the lake from Sheridan could've been a sepiatone landscape. But this morning, there was no sign at all of the huge flock of geese who'd been resting there for the past week, presumably because they've continued south. Even so, perhaps because there's been so much chatter about the falling temperatures this week, I found the air less brisk than expected. A healthy stroll at lunchtime even sounds like an enticing prospect.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Day of the Dead worked out even better than planned. Originally we had wanted to take the El down and run to Bombón for pan de muertos before meeting our friends at the Museum. [ profile] monshu rang them the evening before to confirm their hours and they warned them there was a 5 km run that morning and it could be quite crowded.

When I rang Bigbones to fill him in, he suggested instead that we both take the bus and he would track us using an app on the Old Man's phone so he could meet us downtown in his car and whisk us to Bombón's Near West Side location, stopping by their place in River North to pick up Miss Cleveland. That all came off exactly as proposed, and rather than being squeezed among a milling crowd into a tiny shop on 18th we could leisure take our pick of the big beautiful breads they had lined up.

There was crowd enough at the National Museum of Mexican Art, but fortunately the huge youth group seemed to be just leaving as we swept in. I think this was a better-than-average year for the main exhibition, with a sumptuous Otomi-style ofrenda and an homage to Mandela that left me close to tears. The ofrenda for García Márquez was clever but not as moving. Another work that got under my skin was an offering to mistreated animals which featured a grotesque rendering of a scene the artist had actually witnessed: a dead cat hanging from a street sign outside the municipal cemetery.

Of the two side galleries, one had some works on paper which [ profile] monshu thought showed fine technique but which didn't speak to me thematically. We were both very impressed with the retrospective of Mexican abstract art. I know little about movements in Latin American art, so the existence of the Generación de la Ruptura was revelation to me. I wouldn't mind seeing more from those painters, particularly the ones who studied in Europe and brought back influences from Miró.

We all spent a lot of time in gift shop afterwards. The Old Man was hoping to find a nice reasonably-priced piece of Oaxacan black ware, but the selection was surprisingly small. It was being edged out by majolica, which I wryly noted was more Miss Cleveland's taste. In fact, he was very taken with some garish switchplates decorated with calavera motifs and spoke of coming back for them after he'd had a chance to survey the apartment to determine what they needed. In the end, he left with a piece for a friend and we acquired a lovely Catrina-in-a-box with big dangly earrings.

For lunch, they said they wanted "high-end Mexican", so we made a return visit to Decolores on Halsted, which Nuphy had introduced us to the previous year. I remembered the food as being interesting but not amazing, but this year I ordered the shrimp fajitas rather than the sauced chicken breast and was more impressed. Their take on mole is mild and creamy, as I learned from snitching from the Old Man's plate, and I liked the guac. Afterwards I got a slice of tres leches from Kristoffer.

Then our buddies revealed their ulterior motive: the huge new Costco on Ashland. They smuggled us in with their membership cards and acting as cicerones as we struggled to take in the vast proportions of the Better-Walmart. We left with everything from cheddar to underwear. I felt a bit bad about the wasteful packaging on the fresh fruit, but I've never seen Asian pears at such a good price. (That's how they get you!) Bigbones had even more fun showing us around than we had shopping and offered to take us there again on one of their weekly trips.

By the time we made it back home, most of the afternoon was gone and we were pooped. When dinner rolled around, [ profile] monshu wasn't even hungry enough to eat the tamales he'd picked up at a bodega round the corner while I was in Kristoffer's. They also had tamales there, and I bought two since they promised to be mild. The filling was an odd mix of chicken with green olives, potato, and green beans in just a bit of tomato sauce. I nibbled a strip of the GWO's tamales, which were chicken and mole, and they were better.

That night, I got scooped by Game Night, but it's questionable how many bears I would've gotten for cocktails anyway since once again I didn't promote heavily. I'm mulling another strategy change, one of focusing in on a few couples each month and working to get them to come rather than sending out a cattle call and being content with whoever stumbles into the paddock. It was only Fig this time and I was happy with that since it gave us a chance to really catch up. I know he's anxious to move back to North Carolina, so I'm trying to spend more time with him before he goes. He says he'll be convalescing from surgery in December, so that should give me an opportunity.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
From a certain point of view, today's weather is completely apropos. It's cold, windy, and wet. (In meteorological terms: 3°C, winds off the Lake of 50 km/hr gusting up to 70 km/hr, and occasional sleet.) It's the kind of weather you can't imagine anything but ghouls and beasts going out in. Pity the poor the trick-or-treaters!

I wanted to walk to the lakefront to admire the breakers. (Further south, 8-metre waves have been reported.) But as I approached, I saw that they had blocked it off. With all the construction (my heart goes out to the workmen laying brick and installing plantings there today), the closest I could get was the roof of the parking structure. Five minutes up there was enough to give me a murderous earache.

From the fifth floor, you can see a striking contrast between the lagoon, which is calm and aquamarine, and the lake proper, which is brown and choppy. I'm not sure what's become of the waterfowl. When I went to toss my breadcrumbs after lunch, not a one of them came out of hiding. Instead, a flock of gulls from the centre of the pond descended on me in horror-movie fashion.

I had no plans to go out tonight anyway since [ profile] monshu and I want to get to Pilsen early tomorrow in order to grab a pan de muertos and make it through the museum before it gets too crowded. Bigbones and Miss Cleveland are supposed to meet us there, and I imagine our traditional stroll through Pilsen will be replaced with a drive to Decolores on Halsted. So it'll be a scary movie and an early bedtime for us (unless those two should prove incompatible).
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Although there's always the possibility of a St Martin's summer, in all likelihood today was the warmest day we'll see until some unseasonably balmy day in March. Officially, the high was 26°C and, if anything, it was a bit too warm. I was determined to take advantage of it, so I walked up to Al's Deli on Noyes and looped through the park to take the long way back. Blocks away from campus, I began to feel uncomfortable. It was the same this evening after dinner. Half a mile south of here, I turned around and could hardly wait to be back home.

I don't know exactly when the foliage peaked, but it's clearly on the downswing now. Strong winds over the weekend stripped a lot of the more colourful trees bare. Most of the maples I see now are more yellow than red and the basswoods were dropping their leaves still green. Flowers are still in bloom, though, including the geraniums flanking the entrance here. We'll need to take them in before temps hit freezing on Halloween night. Same goes for the azaleas, which can't seem to stop putting out new buds, and whatever ivy we want to keep through the winter. The front windows are about to get very crowded.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This morning I said to [ profile] monshu, "Open House Chicago is going on. What are some buildings you'd like to see?" In the interests of not running all over creation, he restricted the choices to Rogers Park. I made my own list and, when we compared, we found our top choice was the Emil Bach House, a Frank Lloyd Wright home from 1915. A couple years back, it was bought by the Pritzers and completely refurbished. They're now renting it out as a vacation home (yours for the bargain price of $1500/day).

We expected it to be popular and, indeed, the line wound round the block. Chicago Architecture Foundation volunteers were working it, offering annual memberships ($65/person) to cut in line. One of them put the wait at about an hour and a half, and she was pretty close: by our estimation, 80 minutes. Rather than pair each group with a tour guide, they had docents spaced at strategic points in the house and grounds and sent us one from one to another, although the relay all began to break down after we visited the upper storey.

The GWO and I came to the same conclusion: beautiful, but I wouldn't want to live there. Like most of his works, it has such a strong personality that there's no much room left to impose your own. I loved all the the little niches and nooks, but couldn't escape the thought [ profile] monshu had upon seeing them: "A nightmare to clean." He also pointed out that the back porch and teahouse weren't weatherised, significantly cutting down on the amount of usable space.

Compared to the Robie House in Hyde Park, the Bach House does feel small. It wouldn't take much of a crowd to make the living room unnavigable (doubtless the reason for the staged viewings) and the ceilings often felt uncomfortably close to my head. On the plus side, it's on the north edge of a double lot, affording great views of the gardens and plenty of light in the bedrooms. The view of the Lake, sadly, has been reduced to a small square between apartment complexes across the alley.

After this, the other choices were each a bit more anticlimactic. First we stopped off at the Loyola campus to see their spanking new Institute of Environmental Sustainability. The most intriguing aspect of the design was the greenhouse space, a room without walls on the upper storey. There is a door controlling access to the stairs, but I pointed out to the Old Man how trivially easy it would be to swing around the side of it and pass even the largest potted plants back to a waiting accomplice. It afforded tremendous views of the block of Kenmore now pedestrianised and appended to campus.

By now, we were both in need of food, so we stopped at Dak on Granville for rice bowls before continuing to the Conway House on Sheridan. I've always admired this lovely old pile, recently vacated by the Madames of the Sacred Heart. Some lovely dark wood built-ins and mosaic floors inside, but the "open house" only included the main level, and not even all of that. No line to speak of, so I suggested hitting the north mansion at Berger Park across the street. Again, great built-ins and other details, but sorely in need of some TLC. It looks rode hard and put up wet, which is only to be expected of a service building in a funds-starved park district.

Next year we'll be prepared, make our plans ahead of time, and hopefully make it to some Loop locations. (Big Tim posted that he was going to try to hit nine of them today; based on what we heard about yesterday's lines, he'll be luck to make half that number.) Such a damn big city and I've seen so very little of it.
Oct. 16th, 2014 10:43 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
So ends another postseason for our hometown champions. Plenty of blown opportunities, some headscratching decisions from Metheny (keeping Wacha in after a four-pitch walk?), and the Redbirds are done. It was a terrific run--almost every game was a nailbiter. And I got a little taste of the post-Molina era. I'm glad it's not upon us yet, because it will be a sad sad day indeed, but at least I know the Cards will still have it in them to make their foes struggle to hold them back.

On the plus side, I've got my evenings back. It's cooler and damper these days, but it's still strolling weather. And the colours are definitely peaking. The early-changing locusts are nearly bare after the days of wind and rain, but their golden leaves are still plastered to the asphalt below. And as the most brilliant of the maples begin to shed as well, the torch is going to the ashes, whose maroon seems particularly vivid this fall. Meanwhile, the hawthorns and the Bradfords are only just getting started.

Even the less-showy leaves are impressive. Today I was walking under a simple hackberry and just the play of pale yellow ranging almost to white against light-green was captivating. It'll be chilly this weekend, but as long as it's also dry that won't stop me from going out. Today I didn't even need a jacket, just a long-sleeved overshirt. (Granted, I wasn't out long.) Maybe I'm pushing it keeping the plants outside this late and I should be spending that time potting them up for indoors instead, but I feel like chancing it.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I wasn't sold on getting up early to see the lunar eclipse, so I told [ profile] monshu that I'd leave it to hazard. If I woke up at the right time, I'd come have a look. It was a wide window (nearly two hours from start to finish), so chances were good. But then unexpected heartburn kept me up again and I thought I might sleep through it.

As it was, I awoke at 5 a.m. and went upstairs. The Old Man was awake, but managed to overlook my presence entirely. After he went outside again, I threw some loose jeans over my pyjama bottoms, pulled on a couple of shirts, and headed down to the parklet at the end of the block. It abuts the parking lot of Clark-Devon Hardware, so the view is pretty clear to the west even though you're looking uphill.

At first, I couldn't even locate the moon, which had been so outstandingly bright when I'd taken my evening stroll. Only a sliver of its lower right edge was still lit. Then I noticed a familiar figure standing at the edge of the lot and went up to meet him. He'd been watching it for a while and told me that he never saw the "blood moon" effect that had been so prominent in the hype.

The moon was nearing the horizon, so the streetlights along Clark Street were interfering with our vision and I suggested heading west of them. I figured the best vantage point would be the graveyard at Devon and Ridge, but [ profile] monshu wasn't willing to walk that far so we just crossed the street to the 24th District Police Station. The lights along Schreiber were still kind of bright, so I suggesting moving again.

I actually meant that we should head up to Arthur, where the lights might be more hidden by the trees, but he thought I meant we should head to the corner of Schreiber and Paulina. Once there, I noticed that the nearest lamp was out leaving much of the police parking lot in darkness and I went to stand there. He soon felt sleepy and departed.

For a while, it seemed a good choice of location. Eventually, though, I deduced from the flow of cruisers into the lot that there must be a shift change at 6 a.m. Once guy even parked his cruiser, went into the car opposite, turned on its headlamps, and walked away, forcing me to reposition myself in order to preserve my view.

I figured that, cops being cops, sooner or later they'd want to know what the hell I was up to. Mr Headlamps-On asked as he passed by, "You alright?" He wasn't amused when I replied, "Someone switched off the moon!" A little later a cruiser stopped some yards away and the driver asked, "Sir, are you waiting for somebody?" "I'm looking at the moon." "What?" "The eclipse of the moon. There's an eclipse tonight." I was like, This was in all the papers, you know. That interaction must've been overheard among the knot of officers standing by the exit since one of them came up to me and said, "Someone said that you're a professor?" I disabused him and then did my best to answer his earnest questions.

By this time, the moon was emerging again from shadow, but it was hard to tell with the onset of civil twilight. I was chilled despite my layers, so while I briefly considered swiveling around to take in the sunrise which I knew was still nearly an hour off, instead I packed it in and headed home to a quiet house, calling my boss to let him know not to expect me in the office before midmorning.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today was such a perfect autumn day it was almost painful. I had lunch in the sun beneath a golden shower of locust leaves and deeply regretted not having brought a novel along. Hazardously, there was a bookstore half a block away and in short order I strode out with an Atwood novel, another book of Jones' short stories, and something from the 2007 Man Booker longlist. But I ignored all of these in favour of a slim volume of Rumpole stories.

I only read a few pages, however, before my bad conscience got the better of me and I decided to stop skiving and head back to work. I did, however, take a more circuitous route than normal. It's startling how much the trees diverge in their moulting in the city. I guess it speaks to how many microclimes we have around here. In one courtyard, you'll find the maples half bare and in the next they haven't even started changing yet.

But what I treasure most about this season is the quality of the light. I especially notice it now that I'm arriving home just before dusk. The sandstone façades have a way of catching and holding the light so that everything is suffused with an amber glow. Unfortunately, now that they've played with the shuttle schedule again, I'm usually stuck taking one of the busses whose windows are covered in advertising. But at least I still have the walk home westward through a canyon of yellowing leaves.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
[Fuck it. It's post something like this or get into more pointless arguments on FB.]


We arrived at New Wave Coffee on Friday to find Stan taking out the trash. I ran up to him and gave him a no-hands hug. "Have you been to Longman & Eagle yet?" he asked. "We just got here!" I said. "It's a little early in the day to start drinking!" Not if you're an artist, though. He said he orders the "PBR breakfast" there and when they ask, "Are you sure you want the PBR?" he's like "Uh, yeah[*]!"

Nuphy took a wrong turn leaving the station and stumbled in around twenty minutes later. With that in mind, I decided to proceed cautiously, getting my bearings at every corner and circling around the square before heading up one of the radial streets. Even so, he thought we were headed north instead of south at one point. After hitting City Lit Bookstore and exploring the monuments in the square, we doubled back to Lula Café for lunch.

After that, it was back to Uncharted Books, which had opened in the meantime. Then we parked the GWO at another café before striking out along Milwaukee. Nuphy said he'd come to walk, but after getting a scoop at a gelateria, he toddled back to [ profile] monshu and left me to explore on my own. Though Stan had suggested there might be some interesting stuff near the theatre, it petered out quickly. I turned onto Diversey, which is totally residential in that stretch, and then headed back myself.

Longman & Eagle is so unassuming we weren't sure we had it until we were upon it. We went to the back bar for the outside seating; I'd go back again for the utterly simpatico barman, who was willing multiple times to run to the front to see if they had some liquor we were interested in (such as the Angel's Envy or some ginger liqueur for Nuphy). The Old Man was able to complete his survey of Islay (though both the untried Scotches turned out to be produced by Bruichladdich).

I instead went for perhaps the priciest Manhattan I've ever had because I called my rye (actually, the barman suggested James Oliver) and my vermouth as well (Carpano, natch). I followed that up with a Rittenhouse Sazerac. Then Nuphy scooted off and we went on to have one of the best meals I've ever eaten in Chicago: appetisers of rabbit au jus and veal brains (though I think the favas stood out most in that dish) and then seared tuna for [ profile] monshu and a "duo of pork" (tenderloin and belly) for me.

The server was outstanding. The only flaw I could find in the entire experience was that the hush puppies (one element out of many in my entree) were room temp instead of piping hot. I ordered an intriguing "house shot" of Letherbee's Malört combined with Dolin Génépi and it came with a discreet little candle on the side since [ profile] monshu had tipped him that it was my birthday. Dessert was black sesame mini-donuts with lime gelée and coconut gelato and it was amazing. I stumbled home drunk and happy--and surprised to be back home in about and hour and a quarter, despite taking the Clark 22.


Bigbones assented so readily when I invited him and Miss Cleveland to Ombra on Saturday that I assumed they'd been there before. They hadn't. Miss C had some issues with our server, who wasn't one to linger, but none with the food as far as I could tell. The menu was completely different from our last trip, which meant no pesce en saor for me. But the calamari were very good, and there were fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta.

I considered a spritz, but was lured instead to order their take of the Manhattan, a "San Marco": Templeton, Carpano, Averna, and raspberries. Initially I mused that it was too smooth, but Miss Cleveland took a sip and told me to "quit complaining". I got a lot of grief from him that evening. It was almost a relief to slip away to meet Scruffy (despite their best attempts to delay me) and leave [ profile] monshu to enjoy their company a while longer.


I arrived at SoFo at only ten after eight, so within the negotiated window, and expected to find only Scruffy keeping the table warm. But, no, there were at least a half dozen pals of one or both of us there already, and twice that by half past. I wanted to make up for contributing nothing to the cost of the cake by buying some beer, but chalk this down as the first gay bar I've been in that "don't do pitchers". (Somehow, not surprised.)

If the L&E Manhattan was the most expensive Manhattan I've had in Chicago, SoFo's might've been the most overpriced. Not that it was bad, but that and a beer set me back $23. That brought me up to almost the perfect point of drunkenness, but then [ profile] clintswan appeared and couldn't resist doing a shot of Goldschläger with him. That pushed me over into the realm of self-consciously modulating my voice and watching my steps so no one would know how besotted I was.

We had cake, then the party moved out to the patio. At some point, I glanced around and couldn't find Scruffy or most of my other friends; they'd slipped away like thieves. By 11 pm, the Otter Night crowd had taken over and the place was getting crowded. Forty-five minutes later, when it became time to clear the patio (damn neighbours!), I decided to slip away myself.

[*] Rendering the "well duh" intonation through typography is a challenge.


muckefuck: (Default)

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