muckefuck: (Default)
I was supposed to host cocktails a week ago Saturday, but I bailed. Only two people checked in with me about them, Eyefield and an ex-bartender friend, so I told both of them they were still welcome to come over if they wanted. The latter chose instead to schedule brunch with me for yesterday while Eyefield opted to meet me at the bar instead.

Later in the week, bantering with him via text took a weird turn. We ended up having a rather serious conversation, I got another glimpse of how maybe we were more attached that we make out, and we made plans for dinner on Thursday that got scuppered by his ex, who's moved back into the house he still owns half of. He sounded mollified when I rescheduled for Saturday, but Saturday came and went without him getting back in touch to finalise plans.

Maybe I should've insisted more, since I'd hoped to use the opportunity to get to know him better and clarify things. I told my therapist earlier in the week that I was dallying with two guys (let's not scare the horses too much) but that they understood nothing serious would come of it because it's Too Early. "Are you sure they know that?" she asked and I took the hint.

You might ask why my usual tendency toward obsessiveness didn't kick in and the answer is basically that I was too darn busy. Fearful of another weekend of staring at the ceiling, I overbooked: Counter-protest Saturday morning, Printers Row Book Fest Saturday afternoon, dinner out Saturday evening. The aforementioned brunch Sunday morning, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) Sunday afternoon, and dinner out again Sunday evening.

So rather than pester Eyefields, I figured if he really wanted to see me, he'd do something about it, and after killing time at Printers Row helping my colleagues at the Press re-place books knocked over by sudden gusts, I accepted an invitation from Bunj to come and hang out. He'd been hunkered inside with a possible cold, but felt better when I arrived and took me on a stroll around his neighbourhood, a fast-changing corner of River North.

By the time I got home, I was tired and hungry, but I saw how the unseasonable heat had wilted the grounds and threw myself into watering them. Dinner ended up being some reheated rice and beans on tortillas and before I went to bed, I told myself, "I'll sleep soundly tonight," which I mostly did.

Despite lollygagging the next morning, I would have been spot on time for brunch if not for the behemoth of Midsommerfest acting like a planetary body, curving the paths of CTA busses with its huge centre of gravity. One block away from Vincent, my namesake texted me, "We've made a terrible mistake"; Vincent, as it turns out, only opens at 11 a.m. "Why not Big Jones?" I asked, since it was just around the corner and I knew it was open.

We ended up spending most of our time chatting about alcohols and mixology, so I proposed a visit to the local liquor store afterwards. They disappointed me by not having my preferred apricot liqueur in stock, but we had plenty of time to ogle and chat. He wanted to do a lap of the fair, which was just filling up, before heading home and I accompanied him on the first leg before sprinting off to CAKE.

JB had gotten there nearly an hour earlier and systematically worked his way around the perimeter of the main vendor space. We started on the fleshy heart of the room and were joined by GOP. One of our fellow gamers from Necessarily Evil was wrangling volunteers that day and introduced us to some fresh meat recently transplanted from Boston. But JB and I needed a bite to eat and I pointed out that martinis were half off at the lounge across the street.

Small plate service didn't start until 4 p.m., so we contented ourselves with fries and two "candy manhattans" while GOP opted for a big blue drink. An hour of girl talk, and who should come by but Mr New Meat. He was in the company of a member of the Rogers Park Bear Crowd that I knew well enough to call by name and not draw a look of confusion. He even noticed the absence of my hair so I had to explain why I'd been so scarce the year before.

I convinced them to stay for drinks and, in return, New Meat convinced me to have a third martini (and fourth drink of the day from the julep I'd had at brunch). Everyone else drifted away and it was just the two of us talking about his pending divorce and recent move to Chicago. He's another Missouri boy who's lived most of his life somewhere else; he's also another Far North Side bear working around the corner from my brother.

I ended up so drunk I thought I'd forgotten my phone when I hadn't. Of course, it took walking all the way back from the Addison platform, where I'd seen NM onto a southbound train, to discover this. Again, I'd expected to hear from someone regarding afternoon/evening plans and again I'd heard nothing. This time, though, I still treated myself to dinner out, though there was more watering to be done when I got home.
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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.
Aug. 23rd, 2016 11:36 am

Endless

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Yesterday sucked. So did much of Sunday. If I were to plot my psychoemotional trajectory for the last several days, it would've peaked some time Saturday night (probably watching the moonlight dance on the waters at Berger Park after a lively meal at Sabri Nehari). The low point is harder to pinpoint; maybe leaving the care facility on the verge of tears yesterday evening?

How did I reach that point? Saturday's evening meal was much spicier than expected--everything seemed to be spiked with chiles except the lassi and the naan--so I got to sleep late and didn't sleep well, leaving me strung out on Sunday. The original plan was to come by in the morning and get the Old Man out in the open air for a while. (Sunday is the one day he isn't scheduled for therapy.) But all he wanted to do was sleep. That's all I wanted to do either, but I didn't have a bed to do it in. (I found a couch in an unoccupied meeting room on the ground floor, but no sooner had a lay myself down before a stray jet fighter from the Annual MilPorn Extravaganza flew over.)

In all, I was there for five hours, during which [livejournal.com profile] monshu and I hardly interacted, he never got up, and he hardly ate a thing. I left in a state of exhaustion and annoyance. My plans for the afternoon--I'd hoped I might be able to spend an hour or two at the Glenwood Arts Festival seeing my friends--got scrapped, since all I had the energy for was coming back home and crashing. Besides, I had still had chores to finish. That gave me a certain sense of satisfaction and I felt better by bedtime (balanced out, however, by a phone call from the nurse that [livejournal.com profile] monshu was running a slight fever).

Next morning was a different story--achy, stuffed-up, bowels acting up, etc. It felt like the onset of a severe cold, so I called in. I didn't want to sleep too much, lest I throw off my schedule, but I didn't accomplish much beyond paying a few bills (including the insurance on our, which I ran over to the office for, since it was due that day), and picking up a prescription on my way in to see the Old Man. Not much change: still a slight fever, still not interesting in eating anything but a few pieces of watermelon. Nonetheless, I stayed for nearly three hours, waiting for my chance to coax some broth into him, before I gave up.

Before I even got there, though, I got a call from the administrator saying that our insurer had denied our request to stay through until Thursday morning and the next two days would out of pocket. So the beginning of my visit was spent in his office trying to get an estimate for our pharmaceutical expenses in order to head off nasty surprises. (Thank the gods he got the shot at the oncologist's or there'd be no way we could afford this.) While waiting for the elevator, I had an unpleasant run-in with the companion of another resident, one that left me shook up for hours. I left, as I already mentioned, on the verge of tears. All I wanted was to be home and the bus stubbornly refused to come while some jerk sat in the bus shelter and smoked so I had no place to sit down.

We're trying to make arrangements to get [livejournal.com profile] monshu home, so there's an awfully good chance yesterday won't be the worst day I'll have this week. So nerve-wracking, relying on people you hardly know to do what they should so you and yours aren't suffering in the days ahead. And so hard to plan expenses, with no real idea what the timeframe is and what will and won't be covered. I've found myself saying, "When this is all over..." and then catching myself, because this won't ever be over. At some point, it will be for [livejournal.com profile] monshu, of course, but then I'll be left with a crushing load of grief on top of the responsibility for managing all the finances and hospital affairs. How do people deal with that? Guess I'm soon to find out.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I felt fine Saturday, just not much like doing anything. The weather wasn't inviting so I decided not to walk down to Andersonville after all. All I really needed was currants for the bread I was baking and golden raisins were just as good. For lunch, I just made scrambled eggs with a bit of leftover salmon.

The tesenn safron came out perfect, by the way:

tesensafron

We had a couple slices after dinner. (I was particularly gratified that the Old Man at first said he wouldn't have any, then agreed to one, and finally went back for a second.)

Cocktails were a bust, however. I was feeling pretty listless, but I tidied up anyway, set out the bread and some cheese, and looked up the recipe for the Royal Union. Nine o'clock came and went and no one came or called, so I cracked open a book and started to read. I struggled to keep my eyes open and gradually a pounding sinus headache was building on the left side of my head. I put The Mekons on to keep my spirits up.

I finally heard from one friends around ten. He asked when things were starting and I told him I was packing it in. Another pal texted shortly after and I told him the same. I stayed up a little longer in case one of the other invitees got in touch, then I carefully put every thing away and crawled into bed to read more of Hamilton's Speckled people.

I slept soundly until four a.m., when I was up for two hours. My sleep after that was punctuated by vivid dreams, concluding with one where I was an abdicated monarch packing up my dorm room with several college pals. Hidden in my closet I found an old jumper of my son's with his princely shield on it. A friend told me it was dangerous to keep it--you never knew what might be inspected in transit--but then I overheard someone travelling with us, a tall dark man who was a vampire and a wizard, explaining to one of our party how he could use his powers of illusion to change the appearance of some of her garments. I suggested he do the same for me, and he agreed. Then I had to find some place to pee and woke up.

I shortened the morning by sleeping in a bit and then had to be off to [livejournal.com profile] vianegativa's for the game. It was a rousing session, with a Tarantino-esque setpiece ironically involving those characters with the least talent for violence. Ultimately, we succeeded in splitting the party four ways, which isn't going to backfire one anyone. JB says he can foresee ending in about three or four sessions, after which he'll take a break while he contemplates retirement. His recording device died so I agreed to send him a writeup from my notes (which I've kept fanatically ever since Fal*Ken*stein).
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
After stumbling through Thursday, my first day back at work after my heinous GI explosion, I told [livejournal.com profile] monshu that I was resetting my expectations and that henceforth any day which didn't feature anything violently exiting my body would qualify as a "great day". By that criterion, Saturday was amazing. For the first time all week, I woke up fully rested. I had energy to do things! Like walk down to Andersonville and run errands. Or pick up all the fallen twigs in the yard and make a neat little pile of them.

Sunday, alas, was back to normal. I was dizzy half the day, leading me to suspect that I was yet again the victim of minor food poisoning. I'd originally hoped to spend some time out-of-doors with my pal Bruce, but ended up pouting around the house until the Old Man suggested I take a test stroll with him to the grocery store. It was successful and I celebrated by letting the cat out to explore the now dog-free hintercourt.

Meanwhile, I texted Bruce letting him know that I was open to a visit once he got done checking out the Leather Archives and Museum. He came by mid-afternoon and ended up staying for dinner. I had a tough time reading [livejournal.com profile] monshu's reaction--Bruce is a strong-opinioned talker, just like me--but the next day he told me he'd enjoyed meeting him. By the time he left, a front had blown through, dropping the temperature significantly and bringing a little rain.

Today was miserable but tomorrow I'll have the opportunity to sleep in since the GWO has another minor procedure scheduled for the middle of the day and needs someone to escort him home. I'm greedily thinking of it as another chance to do some of the reading I was kept from on Sunday. I raided [livejournal.com profile] monshu's stash for something by a younger Chinese writer and discovered he had not only Liu Cixin's Three-body problem but a book of his shorter fiction as well.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Leaving the Container Store today, I remarked to the Old Man that we'd ended up observing MLK Day by going someplace with the fewest Black people we could find. I was painfully aware of the irony when we planned the trip, only I didn't see an alternative. If he'd been feeling better then, we could've completed it last weekend and I was too sick of all the Christmas shit littering the den to put off buying sturdy plastic boxes for it yet another week. It doesn't all fit in the ones we've acquired, but most of it does and we can manage with the odds and ends.

The lunch place, Kingsbury Street Café, felt like Trixie ground zero. (My long hair is trendy again, but I'd have to wear it down and artfully radiating even at the cost of rendering a fur-lined hood purely decorative in -27°C windchill.) I was genuinely shocked when [livejournal.com profile] monshu made the decision to eat there even after being told of a twenty-minute wait. My "salmon hash" was flavourful and generous with the salmon, even if I didn't care for the trendy substitution of tater tots for actually potatoes, but he's being super cautious and only had plain pancakes. We hardly need to come to North & Clybourn for that.

Sunday was a day of pure hibernation. We'd spent Saturday running around so we had plenty of heat-and-eat treats from Middle Eastern (the chive-feta spread is a keeper). I ended up having to hike all the way to Whole-mart for the "vegetable crumbles" for the meatless shepherd's pie, only to find that pea protein is a key ingredient, so they might not actually be lower in purine than real meat after all. Same for the fake chicken strips I transformed into a kind of gyro with the help of fresh tzatziki and a little romaine.

But I had to do something to make up for my splurge on speck at Spacca Napoli on Saturday with [livejournal.com profile] tyrannio and [livejournal.com profile] innerdoggie. To be honest, it felt distinctly odd eating at a straight-up Italian place with them, but they vetoed the Mexican place I wanted and I nixed the inconveniently-located Turkish café with its paradoxically meat-heavy menu. Hours later, as I was coming back home on the Broadway bus, I learned that someone had been shot dead at a McDonald's only a mile due east right about the time our pies arrived. But that's the privilege that comes with living on the "right" side of a divided city.
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Nov. 23rd, 2015 03:32 pm

Homebound

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Another slug weekend. Really wasn't my intention but something I ate on Friday didn't agree with me and suddenly the prospect of taking the el an hour each way for a concert lost a great deal of its appeal. Of course I hemmed and hawed up until the last minute because I really didn't like the idea of sending [livejournal.com profile] monshu off into the cold alone, but the idea of travelling all that way with him only to turn right back around if dinner didn't sit well was too much.

As I feared, it was a less-than-enjoyable outing for him. He ended up on the holiday train, so the trip to the Loop took about 50% longer than it would have otherwise. Then he couldn't find the restaurant we'd planned to go to. He did run into Diego at the concert, which was a mercy, but the start time was delayed nearly half an hour (whether due to poor organisation or poor attendance) and your man had to leave at intermission. It was nearly 11 before the Old Man made it back.

At least I got the laundry done. Plus I watched an awful NetFlic (Vulgar) and started a new novel (El beso de la mujer araña). To compensate, I did absolutely nothing of value on Sunday. I meant to do some shopping in Andersonville, maybe meet a pal for lunch, but it was cold and I wasn't motivated. I at least could've done some of the clothes sorting I've been putting off for way too long, but I didn't manage that either.

We've had our first snow of the season. It was coming down wet and heavy Friday evening. I set out midmorning on Saturday to run an errand in hopes of enjoying it, but at that point it had changed to rain (although not out in the burbs, where they got up to a foot or more). By afternoon, it was back to snow again, so poor [livejournal.com profile] monshu had to navigate a morass of ice on top of everything else. Sunday he discovered that we'd run out of salt and made a salt run to the hardware store.

He has another one planned for tonight or tomorrow, but that's strictly prophylactic since everything's turning to slush and it's predicted to be positively balmy on Thanksgiving, if still quite damp. We're doing Thanksgiving at a friend's, so naturally the GWO is planning a Second Thanksgiving for Saturday. We used to joke about him being an ogre, but on balance I think I've married a hobbit.
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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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.
Oct. 31st, 2015 10:43 pm

Housecat

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
jackopunkin

This was a pretty successful Halloween at home. I did some things I don't always get around to these days, like watch a scary movie (28 Days Later) and carve a pumpkin. You can see my efforts above. I bought a larger-than-usual gourd this year 'cause they were cheap and then was stumped what to do with the canvas. [livejournal.com profile] monshu shot down the idea of a cyclops so I was like, "How about a cat?" It doesn't show up well on the image, but I had the idea of sticking glass pebbles in the eyes for pupils. Next time I should see if I can get real catseyes.

The most noteworthy feature of the evening was a trick-or-treater--our first (and, so far, only) in seven years here. Despite the novelty of this, the possibility had occurred to me while carving. Since his weight loss became a concern, the Old Man has developed the habit of keeping a stash of cheap chocolate at the ready. I glanced in the bag and noted some "fun size" Milky Ways and peppermint patties. So when the doorbell rang, I had the presence of mind to grab the first of these and offer a couple to the tiny princess in our foyer. Embarrassingly she tripped and fell on the way out. (The timer for the light needs to be manually reset and apparently only Scooter knows how to do it.) But her mother didn't seem too concerned and child shook it off.

We were going to hit Pilsen today, but meteorology predicted rain and cool temperatures and, contrary to our hopes, held to that, so we postponed for tomorrow. As a result, I didn't feel the need to rush home from Cap'n Spiff's Halloween party. His musical taste if quite close to mine--for Heaven's sake, he played not only "Rock Me Amadeus" (the original German version) and "You Spin Me Round" but Coulton's "Re: Your Brains". I keep announcing I was going to leave the dance floor and then returning a moment later to dance to one more song. I'm kind of amazed I can still stand today.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Despite the impression I'd gotten from the invite, the event Saturday evening was not a costume party. It was a birthday/housewarming party with a horror-movie theme, not a birthday/housewarming/Halloween party. But given the season, everyone just assumed I'd either come from or was going to a party which was fancy dress, so it was all good. MOE was pretty lit by the time I arrived, which was cute but made for boring interaction, so I spent most of my time there talking to a couple guys I sorta knew through Great Lakes Bears (especially one who'd just moved back to town after a long absence) and, eventually, BDA.

He knew of another birthday get-together a couple blocks away and convinced me to run over there with him. This was more my scene: all Bears around my age or older, with some ethnic diversity and a Deaf contingent. I ran into the Storms, who I haven't seen in forever, and they promised to have me over again sometime. I also met two younger Bears who independently seemed convinced they'd met me before on the basis of my big ol' beard. Whatever. Unfortunately, because the median age was so high, the party began breaking up not long after we arrived. Firepaw, who lives in the building, made a rare appearance and I lingered to spend some time with him, but one of the hosts was determinedly clearing up and relations between the remaining guests were beginning to turn Dramatic, so I made my escape.

The next morning was my one opportunity in the weekend to see Blondie, staying over for a couple of days between a job in Milwaukee and one in Kankakee. Nuphy was trying to get us to Chinatown for dim sum and I was trying to negotiate someplace more convenient, i.e. closer to Blondie's Streeterville hotel. We eventually settled on a casual joint on Walton, but not without a lot of ridiculous back-and-forth. I also ended up waking up the poor thing since the silly old geezer never told me he was trying to sleep in. "For me, 'sleeping in' means like 8 o'clock!" Good for you, Nuphys, good for you.

It was a good meal and afterwards Nuphy dragged us into the Boul Mich maelstrom. First Macy's for some shampoo that comes in solid form, then to the Apple Store where he was considering watches. I could see that Blondie was running down, however, and I was keenly aware of how much daylight we were burning on one of the finest days of fall, so I manoeuvred us back to the Hancock where we went our separate ways--Blondie back to the hotel for a nap, Nuphy home, and me to the express bus stop.

It was nearly four by the time I got home, which left me with just enough daylight for some of the transplanting I need to finish up. The ornamental grass is now almost entirely relocated from the front walk to the sunny end of the hellstrip. I've sunk all the tulips from out back into the beds where it was, but I'm worried some of these bulbs are too damaged to survive. Oh well; it'll all work out fine next spring when we get some flats of marigolds or whatever to plant there.

I also got the last epimedium in the ground and two more pulmonaria. As I was fighting the gloom to sink the last of these, An Baoghallach came by with his partner in crime and bent my ear so long that [livejournal.com profile] monshu eventually wandered out to join us. He's got at least two more events to add to my social calendar for this coming month. Add that to our other vague commitments--Pilsen for DdM, Ethiopian Diamond with Mozhu, dinner with Turtle and Turtlewife, etc.--and it's starting to look like a full month indeed.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
For a while, it looked like we would have the cooperation of the weather for Saturday's leafing trip. A narrow band of storms blew through midmorning, soaking the landscape (and poor Fig, as he was just arriving at Home Despot), but it was forced on by a high pressure system and brought cloudless skies in its wake. The first hour of the drive was gorgeous. Then, out of nowhere, low-lying cloud cover swept in and stayed with us the rest of the day. Shortly after we made it to Wisconsin's one-and-only Apple Holler, they began releasing a fine drizzle.

That was our first stop and we were all a bit peckish. We were just going to get some food from a grillstand, but it lay only steps within a ticketed area, so we were politely asked to pay admission. We all bridled at the thought, since our interest in the assorted amusements was effectively nil, so we ended up in the sit-down restaurant at the very tail of the lunch rush. To our surprise, it was actually decent. Yeah, my potato pancake was undercooked on one side and the appled-studded coleslaw was too mayo-heavy, but the fried fish Fig and I shared was quite respectable, firm and not greasy nor too heavily-breaded.

Meanwhile, the drizzle was intensifying, so our shopping coincided with a rush indoors, leading to long lines and a struggle to find products. (For an apple-themed establishment, they sure make their apple butter perversely hard to find.) Happily, though, this concluded with the acquisition of--among many other things--a dozen apple cider donuts still warm from the fryer. At this point, we concluded that the rest of our day was simply gravy and retreated to the car to formulate a plan.

Fig had a comically vague hand-drawn map from a coworker listing various attractions nearby. We decided to turn back and then off onto C to check out a few. The first was a ramshackle horror of a place called Happ's Pumpkin Patch. Fig described it as "the kind of place I would've loved if I was six" but I think at that age I would've found it terrifying. It was littered with refuse of all sorts--old machinery, strange statuary, weatherbeaten sheds--including two old schoolbuses which looked like exactly like the sort of place you would get murdered in a slasher film.

In fact, it dawned on us that the entire scenario--three city slickers heading down a shabby rural to a location recommended by "this woman I know from work"--was straight out of the Big Book of Horror Movie Clichés. Then when we saw signs advertising the "Pumpkindaze" festival in the neighbouring hamlet of Salem (whose hair salon is intriguingly named "Headhunters"), we just lost it. And that was before we found that one of the two restaurants at the end of the road in tiny Wilmot was a rambling house on the hill above town attached to a bunker-like cement building of uncertain function.

Of course, having just filled up at the orchard, we were in no mood for dinner. Despite the coworker's description, there was little of picturesque interest in little Wilmot and no cute shops (but both a dance and a yoga studio), so we decided to get the hell out of dodge before nightfall. The day concluded with a visit to the worst laid-out and least bargain-driven outlet mall any of us have ever been to. I walked away with $200 in clothing I desperately needed, but at the cost of our dinner hour, leading to a hurried cheese sandwich at home before I headed out to my first party of the evening.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I'm kind of relieved that I got my dates wrong and I don't actually have a party to go to tonight. Yes, it makes for a longer day tomorrow, but it gives me an evening to rest up for it and a whole day to recover. Well, part of a day--I really need to get out in the garden on Sunday and now that will be my only opportunity to see Blondie this visit. Also, it's predicted to rain tonight and I'd just as soon be home for that.

Tomorrow Fig is taking me and the Old Man to do Fall Things. I suggested this a couple weeks back when he came by to drop off the last of the transplants and it looks like we've settled on exploring the I-94/US41 corridor. It's not new to me--I've been up here a half-dozen times at this point, either on my way to Door County with Dad or to Milwaukee with [livejournal.com profile] bunj. He and e. even took me to the Apple Holler once or twice before they discovered an orchard they like far better way the hell out beyond O'Hare.

The colours won't be great this year--it's been dry lately and the frost is slow in coming (not that I'm complaining about that)--but they should be good enough. Fig is hoping we'll be able to get some dinner at a steakhouse just across the border which claims to be Wisconsin's oldest restaurant, in operation since 1848. And, from the looks of their menu, they haven't made many changes since then. But it's the least we can allow him given that he's willing to rent the car and drive it.
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Oct. 19th, 2015 09:57 am

Unready

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Last year I pledged that we'd make more of an effort to take advantage of Open House Chicago next time around. But everything was different last time. None of the locations really spoke to the Old Man and memories of last year's epic line put him off trying for any of the more popular ones (like the Rookery) anyway. We did make an attempt to view a church near us, but it turned out to be closed all afternoon for a wedding.

So we headed down to Andersonville to try out the hot new restaurant in the 'hood, Cantina 1910. It's been getting amazing press and looks as beautiful inside as it did in the photos. We were disappointed to find, however, that it only has a limited (and very eggy) brunch menu on weekend afternoons. That put [livejournal.com profile] monshu off his feed, but I opted for some chilaquiles which were mighty tasty, if not half as interesting as some of the selections on their dinner menu read. So worth a return in the evening sometime.

The next day, I was hosting the game, but that didn't prevent me from also finishing laundry, shuffling around the plants in front a bit, and even baking a bread pudding for my guests. I wish I were more inspired to work outside. It's great weather for it and there's lots to do, but I start thinking how sore I'll be and lose my inspiration. More than that, I think, it's the raft of decisions to make--where to plant what, all why trying to work towards some grander design. It does my tiny head in.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Saturday was games at JB's birthday-anticipated party, followed by Nozze di Figaro at Lyric (review to follow).

Sunday was a return to JB's for the first session of our Apocalypse World game set at "Funfair, in the shadow of the Cathedral of St. Sebastian". We decided to situate our stronghold on a former trailer park on the outskirts of town called "Whispering Palm" and I chose to be the leader. I thought the first session would all be chargen, but that took us all about an hour and the rest was roleplay. And not just basic but necessary "getting-to-know-you" roleplay either. Apparently my second-in-command is conspiring with the evil clown overlords of Funfair to sell me out and go on the road, a plot uncovered by patrician madame Sauvignon Levay at her upscale brothel of "ninja hookers".

I'm having twinges of regret at not arriving with a more clever character concept, but after seeing some of the bizarreness the other players have come up with, it's probably best that I kept mine simple. Yes, the postmodern thing is to toss you in media res with no "normal" characters to identify with, but I've learned the hard way the perils of arriving with too rigid a concept at a game which keeps complexifying at every turn. Besides, while it can be fun to see how you can further twist the twisted, there's something even more irresistible about taking straight shooter and seeing how you can break him down.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I think the weekend had a good balance of staying in and going out, even if I was more of a slug yesterday than I meant to be. I did consider returning to the beach once it became clear that the thunderstorms were a no-show once again, but I thought it might be anticlimactic after the great time I had Saturday.

You could not have asked for better beach weather: hot, but not too humid (not for this Missourian, at least), and a bit of a breeze. As expected, everyone and their lover was there, yet somehow I managed not to see anyone I knew when I arrived. (It only occurred to me after I'd been there a while that a chunk of the Far North Side Mature Bear crowd would be attending the wedding of two of our own and a number of the remainder would be in NOLA for Decadence.)

After a time, however, I ran across BDA and his two frisky friends, which allowed me to lay my towel very much in the thick of things. At times I was like a weathercock, not sure which direction to turn in. One advantage to the company I was in was that whenever any of us fell silent for a moment, there was no reason to ask why or to excuse oneself. As they left Diego came by, then his hot new Peruvian daddy.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Saturday was a very full day and Comic-Con really deserves its own post. Sunday was much more relaxing. Unfortunately, part of the reason for this is that the game seems to have fallen apart. One player couldn't be there for the very understandable reason that his father had recently suffered a heart attack and another was crushed by work, so [livejournal.com profile] vianegativa cancelled the session. Shortly after that, he announced that as four out of six characters had completed their arcs (which was news to some of the people playing them), we'd be having one more wind-down session before he stepped down from GMing and we filled the gap with one-shots until JB felt like taking over.

This was a plan we'd agreed upon before, but we also agreed there'd be about four more sessions before taking a break. As I told [livejournal.com profile] monshu, I enjoy one-shots, but the downside is that there's far less pressure on players to attend in the absence of an ongoing campaign. So I'm concerned that we'll quickly lose the two players with the most demanding work schedules, which may dampen the enthusiasm of the rest of us. I guess the way to make sure that doesn't happen is to step up and do what I can to give everyone a compelling reason to turn up in two weeks. No pressure.

In the meantime, I seized what I thought might be my last opportunity of the season to finally make it to the beach. I met up with a very nice young man I'd met at the game night the evening before and we staked out a spot close to the water. I was determined to go in; he took a lot of coaxing. And for good reason: the water was absolutely dick-shriveling. Another game night attendee swore that it had been warmer during his last visit, but I don't see how. (He also had an ulterior motive for getting us waist-deep, but we were having none of it.)

Attendance was decent enough, but I saw hardly anyone I knew--just the Loyola Classics prof and a radio deejay friend I ran into also at the Arts Fest and who I need to get together with to compare notes on eldercare for health-challenged husbands. I talked the most with MOE, who--despite being only 28 and recently transplanted from Tulsa--impressed me with his maturity and thoughtfulness. He's sharing an apartment with his twin brother (who looks different enough that I initially mistook them for boyfriends) and that's led to some hilarious incidents, one of which he related to me as we crossed the family portion of the beach.

I blew off all my chores and I won't get to any today because we're supposed to meet up with the fam one last time before they fly back out west. [livejournal.com profile] monshu will be their cicerone for the Field Museum and I'll find them in whatever restaurant they end up at, if I'm not too done in after a rough day of readjusting to a weekday schedule. (But it will probably happen since we're talking the Loop now and not someplace in the wilds of the northwest burbs.)
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Aug. 17th, 2015 11:24 am

Agley

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
The Old Man was late this year in asking what I wanted to do for my birthday. I dithered for a while, since part of me really wanted an excuse to escape the city. We had floated the possibility of an overnight in some outlying hamlet, such as St Charles, but this weekend was the local arts fest which a great chance to see people. We'd even run into a couple of friends by chance on our last trip downtown and assured them we'd see them there and I floated the idea in the gaming group of making a group outing. Plus Graysong was coming up from Chattanooga to hawk his wares.

Eventually, a plan coalesced: Friday, after [livejournal.com profile] monshu's checkup, we would meet up with JB and his husband for drinks at Social at 6 followed by drinks with Graysong &co at the Glenwood, then we'd all go to dinner somewhere nearby--probably the tapas place on Pratt. Saturday, there was a dedication of an honorary street for Mozhu's departed husband in the morning. Afterwards, we'd do lunch together, then the GWO and would do the arts fest and go for dinner afterwards, probably just the two of us. Sunday I was slated to help [livejournal.com profile] clintswan with his yard sale.

None of that happened.

At [livejournal.com profile] monshu's checkup, he was complaining of pain in his stomach and lower back. His doctor was concerned this could be a bowel obstruction and sent us to the ER for a CT scan. He wanted it with oral contrast, which takes about an hour-and-a-half to work it's way into your intestines, so they didn't take him until shortly before 7 p.m. In the meantime, they diagnosed a urinary-tract infection and gave him morphine for the pain. Around 9 p.m. or so they decided to admit him.

Fortunately it wasn't the bowel which was obstructed, it was the ureter. We knew the solution for this was relatively straightforward, since it's exactly what he was diagnosed with last November. By 10 a.m. the next morning, we knew that they wouldn't be implementing it that day since it was considered a non-emergency situation and, thus, not worth calling in the IR team from home. But we couldn't go home until the urologist had actually seen him and signed off on this plan. That took eight hours.

For most of that time, I alternated between bored and frustrated. You'd think this would be a great opportunity to get reading done, and I did do some, but I'd slept badly, so between the sleepiness and the possibility of interruption at any point, I couldn't concentrate very well. That gave me plenty of time to ponder what a fucked-up situation it is when the only person involved who has a compelling interest in seeing a patient go home was the patient himself and his interests are the most poorly-served by the system.

The hospital doesn't need to send to him home because they get something like $11,000 a day for keeping him there. When you have a patient who needs so little attention (by midday, they'd even removed his IV and started giving him solid food), that's basically free money. Plus they're worried about being sued if something happens at home. And, of course, it's good for their occupancy stat. The doctor doesn't need to send him home because it's easier for him if his subjects are captive. The Old Man's primary advised me when I began making the case for discharge that he'd get an appointment for the procedure much sooner if he was already in the hospital.

But our arguments carried the day. The urologist agreed to the release before even viewing him and, miraculously, the staff got the paperwork processed in less than an hour. We were home in time for a late dinner, which--since I needed to run to the pharmacy to pick up more antibiotics--was a take-out pistacchio e speck pizza from Antica Pizzeria. I had people still willing to take me out for drinks, but I was worn out and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed.

I woke up the next morning refreshed and started some laundry so I could get it out of the way. [livejournal.com profile] clintswan had generously offered to take me to the beach, following which we'd do the Arts Fest if [livejournal.com profile] monshu felt up to it. But my stomach was hurting all morning and my little friend was plump tuckered from shifting all his furniture the day before. The Old Man and I had a stupid little spat about the upstairs sink and I announced to him I was going to Middle Eastern Bakery for a potato pie, the only thing I really felt like eating at that moment.

He volunteered to get it for me and I told him I'd rather we went together. While waiting for a bus back home, I exchanged some texts with Mozhu and realised she was waiting on our doorstep, deciding that she really needed to see us after going so very long without a visit. "You don't have to invite me in," she explained and kept apologising for her "home invasion", but it did us good to see her. She was feeling a bit bereft, since the street dedication was the last planned formal event for her husband. "Now my life alone really begins," she said and I was glad to be there to give her hugs.

We did make it to the arts fest, but after an hour or so the Old Man started feeling queegy and left. I held on, determined to see as many people as I could, and made out pretty well. Dinner was less successful--BDA bought me some yoghurt and pasta salad at the Morse Market, which was a welcome supplement to the mediocre lomein I got from a street stall, then we joined the pizza party at Moustache Rides, where I nibbled on a couple crusty pieces. (So cracker-thin and devoid of sauce, they were almost St Louis style--minus the provel, of course.) Some hugs, one more visit to Graysong as he was packing up his booth, and I was on my way home again.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
We did nothing while my sister was in town. Well, nearly nothing. Saturday we walked over to Uncommon Ground and had dinner. (Apparently there was a stroll to the park and back earlier but I napped through it.) Other than that, we just hung out around the house. In the afternoon, some old highschool friends dropped by with their listless moppets, still jetlagged from a trip to Ireland. Nuphy arrived just as they were leaving and stayed for a couple of ouzos after dinner out.

Everyone was telling me that seven months is a great age and they were right. JHI was just starting to crawl the week before but he still has little t-rex arms and can't get his chest off the floor, so his progress is slow. As a result, baby-proofing wasn't really necessary. I could even set him on the landing knowing I'd have plenty of time to stop him if he so much as contemplated tackling the stairs. On the other hand, he was terrifically interactive--grabbing fingers, hair, and glasses; fascinated by human faces (especially Scooter's for some reason); burbling with delight at every opportunity.

I was worried I'd get no sleep with my sister right above the master bedroom, but that only really happened the second night (when JHI kept banging against the side of the crib and waking himself up). I was worried she'd get no sleep but she assured us the newly-purchased daybed was fine. JHI napped enough that he wasn't fussy, but not so much that it felt like he was always going down. I got a couple naps in, too, and that was enough to cope.

The best part of the whole visit was watching [livejournal.com profile] monshu play with his little nibling. I'd never seen him interact with an infant before and nothing in his otherwise crotchety behaviour around wee ones had led me to expect he'd get so much enjoyment out of playing with him, carting him around, and otherwise being a doting uncle. Hopefully he'll still feel the same way a year from now when the family gets together in Colorado.
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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, [livejournal.com 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.
Jul. 20th, 2015 10:09 pm

Fested

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Actual summer weather has arrived and with it such a flurry of street festivals that I can't keep track. Yesterday, Nuphy met us in Chinatown for our first trip to Xi'an Cuisine and we found ourselves smack in the centre of the Chinatown Summer Fair. This may not be the most useless Chicago festival, but it holds the distinction of being the most useless one I've ever attended more than once. It's the weekend of the year when all the souvenir shops dump their tacky junk on folding tables in the street so that instead of sifting through it in air-conditioned comfort you get to do it in full sun and suffocating humidity along with a thousand other clueless merrymakers. Hold me back.

The weather was perfect for a beach day, and when I posted this, a friend said he was tied down working the "Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival". This said nothing to me, and I assumed it was in Lincoln Park. No, it's just the same old local street fair rebranded to highlight its musical acts. Personally, I think of it as "DILFest". I don't go for the music or the food but for the "stroller meat". My friend owns a pet accessory store (what else do you call this proliferation of little shops full of treats and chew toys but no actual pets?) and hanging out with him and his cronies was way fun. One thing about the homo world which will never cease to amuse me is how often I learn more about a man's sexual tastes than I could tell you about those of people I've known since highschool even before I learn his name. There's more of a range there than merits the alternative nickname "Papifest", but for those of us who love Latino daddies, it is sort of one-stop shopping.

Meanwhile, there were at least two other fests the same day, plus a White Sox game. I'm glad to have dodged all of these coming back up from Nuphy's place by bus and bus even if it did take a real bite out of the afternoon. The Old Man and I were still too full from lunch to fix a real dinner, so we nibbled on cheese and fruit and then I had a bite of a squash blossom quesadilla and two filled churros. (Not my wisest choice ever.) Between the meat-heavy lunch and the meat-and-salmon-heavy appetiser dinner of the night before, I expected a gout attack and was pleased to experience none.
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