Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Visit to Chicago

 Earlier this year my sister moved to Chicago. She helped open up a Chicago office of her Manhattan firm even though she really didn't know anyone in the city. Mom and I went back to visit her in May, just to check out her new digs and see where she was. I'd never been and really didn't know much of anything about Chicago. Sebi kept referring to it as Gangster City. Mom and I met K at work and saw her swanky office in the downtown, then we walked past this giant silver coffee bean (Cloud Gate) to the Art Institute.
 I loved this VanGogh in person. It's not one I would have expected, but that's exactly why I go to museums. The texture of the worn floorboards especially impressed me, and I would have rented this room on the spot.
 Seurat was great in person too, but how could it miss after Ferris Beuller's Day Off? I took a picture of the little boy blowing his horn for Will.
 There is so much great stuff there! I was disappointed that the Hopper was out on loan, but . . .
 I got to see American Gothic! It was a good, surgical museum trip where I didn't get sidetracked first and spend all my best energy on the first floor antiquities. We had Chicago style pizza and went home and to bed.
 The next morning K had reserved a zip car and we picked it up and went by a Swedish bakery in the next suburb. We got a smattering of many things and ate them as we drove out to Oak Park to take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's first family residence. She has those pictures, but it was a great house. The tour was good, but whitewashed, omitting FLW's many indiscretions, mistresses, and eventual divorce. He had six children and one of them invented Lincoln Logs, so it wasn't all for naught . . .
 It was a drizzly day, so it was the perfect time to have a car. We had a stellar Indian buffet for lunch and came home and ate dinner and watched Julie and Julia and I crashed again.
 Saturday we headed down to the Magnificent Mile. Here is mom in front of the Water Works.
 We rode up to the top of the Hancock building and looked out at the view.
 I was so ignorant of Chicago that I didn't realize it was on a lake. Yep. It is. Lake Michigan, I think, though I'm flying without a guidebook here.
 This building has stones embedded in it from all over the world.
 And these two summed up our family: the Berlin Wall next to the Great Wall of China. There's a piece of the Salt Lake Temple around the corner.
 Then we went to find our architectural boat tour.
Nedra: Oh! We have to go back over the bridge to get our boat.
Karen: No, Mom, that's Wendella. Those are the funny ones. We are doing the Architecture Foundation tour -- the nerdy one. 

And indeed, it was the nerdy one. We could tell because everyone was there early and standing quietly in line. Our guide was great and taught us all kinds of things. Again, I didn't realize that Chicago is a hotbed of architectural design. This building above was my favorite as soon as I saw it (same colors as a Podesta Baldocchi box from my childhood). Turns out it was designed during Prohibition and is symbolic of a champagne bottle.
 We learned that the Chicago River was so polluted that they engineered a reverse flow miracle to dump all the waste out the other side (which didn't endear them to their neighbors). I think now that they should try the trash water wheel experiment like Baltimore. So cool! I think it's fantastic.
 In the meantime, Chicago's recent success was to get this river upgraded from "toxic" to merely "highly polluted". I guess sometimes you've got to look hard to find your successes.
 We went all the way out to Navy Pier (now I'm just making stuff up -- I can't remember if this is really what it's called; but it's plausible, right?).
 The building in the middle is currently one of the tallest in the US designed by a woman, and those strange fin-like patterns are supposed to mimic the water in the river. When we disembarked, we walked down to Navy Pier or whatever it's actually called. We saw an exhibit of Louis Comfort Tiffany religious art. 
Did I even know that he did religious art? No. It was really good. By then we were well and truly tired.  We had a very pleasant dinner at Julius Meinl (a Viennese place we always shop at when we're there -- they have restaurants in Chicago. Who knew?) then went home and watched About Time. And if you haven't, you should too. But do not be fooled into thinking that it's a romantic comedy. It's not. Excellent movie.
Sunday we made soup and went to church and ate soup and mom and I headed back out to the airport. I am so proud of K for making it in a big city. She found a great apartment and furnished it and has had to figure out everything from internet to groceries to the gym and where the knitting club meets. And she's enjoying it too. I started developing a list of R-rated Movies That Will Make You A Better Person. If you have any additions, please let me know!

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