||[Feb. 9., 2016|08:28 pm]
Today's excursion with itchwoot moves one more person from the column of "LJ Friends I've Never Met" to "LJ Friends Known IRL". At this rate it will take only, what, 600 more years to meet you all?
He got in town last Saturday, but I was tied up with opera and gaming and such so it was Sunday evening before I was able to touch base with him. Fortunately I'd already asked for Fat Tuesday off since I'd been invited to a New Year's banquet the evening before and didn't know how late that would go. (Until near 11 p.m., as it turns out, so that was a good call.) He's got over a dozen people to see on his visit to Chicago and it seems almost none of them are free on weekdays before dinnertime.
Which is how I got him all to myself after I sleepily texted him around midmorning and invited him over for pancakes. Pączki were all over our flist, however, and he asked if we could score some of those instead. I was primed for that suggestion by the sad realisation I was missing Pączki Day at work, so I gave him directions to Swedish Bakery and told him I'd meet up with him on the bus. But he'd only ridden the El before, so I killed time chatting with my neighbours while waiting for him to hike the kilometre from the Berwyn station. (One even offered me an earlier number gifted her by one of the several people who lost hope at the size of the line, but I turned it down lest I get called before he arrived.)
The whole concept of taking a number at a bakery turned out to be novel to him, and he was amused at the prospect of buying Polish treats at a Swedish bakery without even realising that the staff serving us were Mexican. He bought three and I got two, thinking I'd give two to monshu. Then it occurred to me he might find even the fruit ones too sugary so I bought two hot cross buns as well. There's no place to nosh at Swedish Bakery (there's barely room to stand most days) and he needed coffee, so we hiked down to La Colombe and hid in the corner so we could secretly pig out. He observed that his pączek had a lot more filling than Berliner Pfannkuchen and it was true that I felt so full from my "cherry cheese fudge" selection that I didn't feel I needed anything else for a while.
He'd bought a book of coupons for Chicago attractions, but a couple were redeemable for only one of two alternatives, so he'd burned his Art Institute ticket on the Planetarium. "I'm a member," I said, "I can get you in for free." So that became the plan. I insisted we check out the Stieglitz exhibit in the basement, but after that we spent the rest of our time in the modern wing. They'd gotten a sizable gift since my previous visit, so there was plenty of new stuff to see alongside my old faves.
(As an aside, it was interesting to realise how little my taste has changed over the course of my life. When I toured Europe at age 20, I was drawn to the Dadaïsts, Surrealists, and Expressionists. Not only do I get as much pleasure out of them as I ever have, but my roster of favourite artists still hasn't changed much--though I did come out this time with somewhat more regard for Max Ernst than I'd had previously.)
I learned about this from an Englishwoman (who only referred to herself as "British" despite being originally from Chesire) we met in the café when we broke for tea. (Well, parsnip soup for him and smoked whitefish spread for me.) She sat down a few seats away and warmly struck up a conversation. Her husband splits his time between here and Ottawa, so sometimes she accompanies him to Chicago and consumes culture while he's tied up with work. I recommended Hinterland to her when I learned her mother lived in Cardiganshire (she's seen it) and she suggested River, a BBC crime series.
Afterwards, itchwoot had plans to meet another LJ friend for dinner, so we rode together as far as Loyola and I went home to monshu, who'd put together a second vegetarian New Year's dinner, this one featuring sesame noodles and headless lion's head soup because Mariano's was out of the crumbles he was going to use to make no-meatballs. Ah well! One more pączek and I sure the hell ain't going to bed hungry.