So I’ve been here a full week already, and time certainly flies when one’s having fun. After absolutely ridiculous heat the first couple of days, the weather settled in to merely very warm, rather than insanely hot. Most days it’s been low 90s F (around 30 C), but after the heat wave, it actually feels rather pleasant.
So I managed to get most of my shopping done within the first 48 hours of arriving, which feels rather nice. On Saturday, Lydia and I went into the center of Chicago and wandered through Millennium Park to the Art Institute, where we saw quite a few nice paintings (some Van Goghs included), but the most awesome exhibit there were the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which was like the most elaborate little dollhouse rooms you could imagine. In some of the rooms, there are even little unfinished pieces of embroidery, and children’s tea sets and things, and the whole thing is so very elaborate, with little gardens visible outside the windows and the most astonishing attention to detail. There were obviously no miniature servants’ quarters or you know, poor people’s houses, but it was pretty neat to see what one very rich woman in the 1930s felt was important to have reproduced for the edification of the masses.
Lydia and I were also interviewed by a journalism student, who was writing a paper on why people seem so fascinated by miniatures and small things. She was only planning on talking for a minute or two, but ended up recording us for the best end of ten minutes – so hopefully we said some insightful and interesting things. After the museum, we had lunch (because I get tetchy if not fed regularly, as people who have traveled with me before have experienced) and went shopping. A sale announcement in the window of Lane Bryant drew us inside, and I ended up buying two ridiculously flattering dresses, three tops and a skirt, most of them on sale, which was very satisfying.
We also went to Macy’s, so I could go to Lush (because I very conveniently managed to leave my nearly new pot of facial moisturizer at my Dad’s house in Sweden a week before I went to the US), and Lydia went to look for jewelry for her birthday, yet I was the one who ended up buying a necklace (which to be fair is very pretty, it’s dark amethyst with a silver and diamond clasp). I wouldn’t have got it if it hadn’t pretty much perfectly matched with the bracelet my Mum gave me for Christmas, and a combination of sales and added discounts (because the Macy’s sales staff know how to pursue a sale) meant I got an extremely good price. I’m hoping to convince my parents that they want to give it to me as a birthday present, if not – that’s why there’s MasterCard.
Sunday morning, Lydia went to church and I went to brunch at Sifu, (her friend Lisa’s knitting store) mostly so I could beg Lisa for help with decoding the crocheting pattern I got on the Friday. I got to meet a whole bunch of Lydia’s knitting circle buddies, and by the time she came to pick me up, I was actually a fair bit along with my new shawl. We went to Lincoln Square, which is at the centre of the German settlement in Chicago. Andersonville, where Lydia and Michael live, is also known as “Little Sweden”, to the point where there are Swedish flags hanging all over the place, and they even have a painted dalahäst on a street corner (see bottom of post). We saw Brave at the cinema, and it was really very sweet. As it’s not out in Norway until late August, I’m extra glad I got to see it here.
In the evening, our TV watching was rudely interrupted when Bottlecap, Lydia and Michael’s somewhat unpredictable tomcat, decided to attack my arm for no discernible reason. He seized it with one paw and slammed the other one down on my forearm with all his claws out. I reacted very quickly, and got the cat away from me, but not until he’d left some pretty nasty scratches, which bled quite a lot. Due to my super pale skin, I now also have some really nicely yellowing bruising around the scratches. It’s an attention getter, that’s for sure. The cat appears to be a lot less psycho now that Michael’s home, but I still don’t entirely trust him. He’s most likely some sort of minor demon in cat form.
Very little of note happened on Monday and Tuesday. I relaxed while Lydia was at work, and wandered around town, stopping occasionally at stores to enjoy their air conditioning. Michael arrived home from his Mum’s in Pittsburgh on Monday evening, and as I mentioned, this seems to have calmed the cat down considerably. On Wednesday, I got to meet two of Michael’s friends, Chad and Jeffrey, when Michael had to go into the University of Chicago (where he does sociology work). While Michael was busy, I wandered around campus, visited the very nice little ancient history exhibition at the Oriental Institute, but mostly relaxed on a park bench in the shade with a book. We ran a bunch of errands around town, and Michael and Jeffrey took me to a barbecue place for lunch, where I had a gigantic pulled pork sandwich (apparently this is a perfectly standard size, but American portions are LARGE), which pretty much kept me satisfied for the rest of the day. We picked up Lydia from work, and Jeffrey, Lydia and I went to the Andersonville farmers’ market before dinner, which was very nicely laid out, and had a lot of free samples. Always a bonus.
Today I took the bus all by myself (I know, very adventurous) to the Chicago History Museum, where Lydia works. We had lunch together and did some shopping, and I browsed the various exhibits (I’ve now seen the bed Lincoln died in) while waiting for Lydia to finish work. On the way home, we stopped at a games’ store, so I could pick up Gloom, because after seeing it on TableTop, it looks like a game after my own heart.
So tomorrow morning I pack up all my things, and go off to meet the other participants of the course. We’re going to be staying at Palmer House Hilton, where I’ve promised Lydia I will try to get her tiny jam jars from the hotel breakfast buffet, if they have any. I have a couple of additional days in Chicago, then it’s off to Decorah.