Back from Chicago, and the homestead is in respectable shape. The elves watching over the place cleaned things up pretty well, though I can tell the refrigerator needs serious restocking. Fair enough.
I'm a little bit beat, but want to get this posted now. So, if there are typos (and "if" is probably a high-degree of wishful thinking...), that's the reason. No proof-reading at the moment.
The weather in Chicago the whole week was bizarre. It’s usually in the 20s, and often as low as 10 degrees – and can get worse. A few weeks ago, it was 9-below zero. But this week, the lowest it got was 34 degrees. Mostly it was in the 30s, with a few nudges into the lower 40s, and one day, as I noted, it hit a glorious (but weird) 59-degrees. Fortunately, that was the day I had planned to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
It still was a bit nippy, especially at night, but no one was seriously complaining. Nippy is very livable when you’re expecting brutal.
I had a couple of particularly interesting days back-to-back. On the first, I went to visit my relative Elinor Miller, who I wrote about earlier, who is now 101. She’s physically frail, but she’s got sparkle, and her mind is sharp, even if there are a few lapses in details. She’s still in her own house, where she’s lived for 72 years. (It’s three doors down from the house where they filmed Home Alone, and she still enjoys watching all the tourists come by to take pictures.) And the next day, I went back to my folks’ old residence to visit with some people there, including Adeline Cohn – who I also have written about – who six months ago turned 100. She’s slowed down somewhat, but is vibrant and active. We had brunch together, she had to leave early to go play bridge, and then later that evening she was going out to dinner. She too has some lapses, and with both, you get a lot of repeated stories, but she’s a joy. Whenever I’d stayed at the residence for a visit, and she’d ask about when I wanted to get together for dinner, I’d always say, “You tell me when you can, because you’ve got a much busier social schedule.”
This was also when I finally got my Cubs World Series swag. Friends kept expressing surprise that I didn’t buy anything right away, but I would tell them all that after 108 years I was fine waiting two months. I figured that all the paraphernalia was going to be expensive right away, and then there would be Christmas, so prices would stay full price. But since I knew I was going to be in Chicago in January, I could just go into sporting goods stores directly when everything was finally on sale. And all the things I ended up getting would have cost $130 retail back in November, but the other day was $54. It was a good decision. And I’m all set for the next century…
I didn’t make a culinary tour of all my favorite places to eat, but did cover many, if not most. The aforementioned Charlie Beinlich’s Food & Tap, as well as deep dish pizza (lots of good places to choose from, but my relatives live near a Lou Malnati’s) – and yes, I brought back a frozen one for later pleasure, Walker Bros./The Original Pancake House for one of their great apple pancakes which is almost like a rich apple soufflé, some good fish in Highwood with my vegetarian cousin, and of course a tasty Vienna Chicago hot dog loaded full with the obligatory “salad” toppings.
The only other activities were the two I wrote about, the Art Institute of Chicago (which is stunning) and the terrific production of The Hunter and the Bear by the PigPen Theatre Company at the Writers Theatre in Glencoe. I found out that their previous show, The Old Man and the Old Moon, which I saw there a couple years ago – and was tremendous and wildly inventive – will be coming to San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre (with the PigPen company again doing the show) in just a few months. I may drive down to see it again, but as the time nears, I’ll write about it here in case anyone in Los Angeles or the area wants to head over and see it for themselves. It’s a joy.
The only semi-disappointment is that the Northwestern basketball team wasn’t in town this past week. They’re actually reasonably good this year, and most analysts are saying they have a reasonable chance to make the NCAA tournament this year. That may not sound like much, but you have to realize – in the history of the NCAA…they are the ONLY major school not to have ever played in the tournament!! So, if they do make it this year, it will be a Really Big Deal. I did see them play on TV, and did walk through campus – my relatives live only a few blocks away. And it looked wonderful and was full of a great amount of new construction, including a lot of new theaters and concert halls. Besides which, when I wandered through the Norris Center, it was an 44th anniversary for the place and for some reason they were celebrating that, so I got a piece of cake. So, all was well with the world.
And now I’m back in Los Angeles. And life goes on...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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