Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snow Day!

Well, not snow day in the sense of no school, but a day in which the grayness of Chicago is transformed into sparkling beauty. To wit:

The gray Gothic buildings can look gloomy and foreboding on a dark day, but today even the gargoyles seemed to smile.

The Harper Library (which has been over-taken by the Regenstein, a hulking modern bit of brutalist) looked like a cathedral.

So how do we feel about winter at UChicago?

We loves it!

MLK Day in Chicago

We spent most of the day at the Reynolds Club so that Kristen could get her work done. In the morning, I had a chance to admire the ice sculptures that had been made to celebrate some sort of Winter Festival being held this weekend. (Kristen told me that she regretted missing the Polar Bear Run on Friday afternoon. Apparently polar bears run naked. Who knew?) They picked a good weekend for ice sculptures, since they had no chance of melting!

The whole campus is so beautiful--it's modeled after Oxford and Cambridge, so most of the architecture, even in the dining halls and common areas, looks like an old church. Gothic spires and arches everywhere.

At noon I decided to attend the Martin Luther King day service at Rockefeller Chapel. It was lovely, with quite intriguing readings from the Gospels, the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu) and the Koran. It's quite amazing how similar passages of the Bhagavad Gita are to the Bible. I also learned a lot of new things about Martin Luther King, regarding his emphasis on "civil" rights rather than the much broader "human rights" and why he had to do that. The speaker (Loretta Ross) said, "We've all heard that he had a dream, but did you know he also had a plan?"

In the early evening we ate a nice dinner at Pizza Capri on 53rd Street and then I went back to the Reynolds Club to knit and read in a lovely cozy lounge while Kristen met with her Corporate Finance group from 6:30 till 10 pm. They have enormous fireplaces in the dining hall and lounge area, with a constantly burning gas log, which creates an atmosphere as if you are in the 19th century (or maybe 14th)--except that everyone is plugging in laptops. The atmosphere is so earnest and quiet and intense. The room I was in isn't a library even, it's just a public lounge, but it was full of quiet intense people who spoke only in low tones to avoid disturbing other students--no one to enforce it, that's just how people here behave.

During the evening, it started snowing tiny flakes, which amounted to about an inch by the time Kristen called to say she was done. I wasn't able to take very good pictures in the dark through the window, but it looked lovely. I will try to take pictures in the daylight this morning.

The shuttle took us from the Reg library right to the door of Kristen's dorm. She is feeling good because she got applications for a spring break externship and a summer internship at Toyota in Torrance sent off and she got her Finance homework done. AIt was a really lovely day for me as well. I am so impressed with the atmosphere at this university.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chicago Sunday

The windchill was -18 this morning, and our wait for the bus was about 30 minutes, so we were fearing for our earlobes by the time the bus came, but after that, everything went like clockwork. We got to Caribou Coffee, on Michigan Avenue across the street from Millennium park (formerly Grant Park), found a cozy seat, and settled in.

cozy corner

Kristen at work

After lunch we walked around for a bit. People were ice skating, despite the single-digits.We saw the old Public Library, which is now a Cultural Center...

Old Library

and a cow sculpture, since Chicago is the original cow town.

Kristen with Cow Sculpture

Millennium Park has a fascinating new sculpture known locally as "The Bean"

Then I risked frostbite again to walk 2 blocks over to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the famous and photogenic lions that guard the front entrance.

And then I spent the rest of the afternoon knitting and finished the first sock of a pair to be known no longer as Sapphire and Amethyst, but henceforth as the Chicago Arctic Blues Socks:

Finally, did I mention that it is amazingly cold here this weekend?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The University of Chicago: hell *has* frozen over!

Ok, so I visit Chicago in winter for the first time in 20 years, and immediately the temperature drops to record lows! It was -4 degrees F. this evening with a windchill of -18 degrees F. and I felt every sub-zero lack of degree of it!

BUT: I love this city, I love this university, and I am so proud of my lovely daughter. On Friday night she had a Business Etiquette banquet to attend and dressed up for the occasion (despite the extreme cold!)

Then today, we left Hyde Park at 8: 20 am and took the #6 bus down to the Millennium Park area on Michigan Avenue--it was frigidly cold but crystal clear and lovely. Unfortunately, as soon as I took one picture, the camera informed me that the batteries were dead--with no previous warning. I did bring extra rechargeable batteries with me, but needless to say, I didn't have them in my pocket downtown. So sadly, after I took this one picture of Kristen, I was not able to take any pictures of the Water Tower, the Lakefront, etc.

We stopped at Loopy Yarns, in the Loop, and Kristen bought an Addi needle, and we hugged all the nice yarn. The people who work there seem young and hip (and obsessively knitting!) and it was great fun.

Tonight we ate at a local place called The Medici, which serves real food at great prices. There are so few local American restaurants in the Torrance area, so this was nice.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sapphire and Amethyst socks

I started a pair of socks so that I will have compact knitting to take with me to Chicago. This yarn is so rich and lovely. I bought it on etsy from SeeJayneKnit, and it's perfect! She is also the maker of some super cool stitch markers. In fact, she added one as a freebie to this order of yarn, and I liked it so well, I ordered a set of them so that I won't have to use bits of yarn as stitch markers any longer.

I think I will make these socks for Kristen. the actual name of the yarn's colorway is Jeans and a T-shirt, but that doesn't do justice to the vibrancy of the colors. The yarn is soft and thickish and very energetic feeling. I am making the most basic of socks because the colors are the whole point. Pictures to follow. I have about 3 inches done the first day.

A picture of the sock in progress:

Friday, January 11, 2008

Woolgatherers at Let's Knit

Christine set up a meeting at Let's Knit so that Mrs. Oyama could give us a few pointers on techniques such as casting on, casting off and other technicalities of knitting. She graciously brought lovely desserts and picked up yummy sandwich wraps for everyone. And Mrs. Oyama graciously kept her store open late and tried her best to teach a few old dogs a few new tricks.

Debbie is a newbie at knitting but an old hand at crochet. She is working on garter stitch, but will soon be knocking out hats and other wonders of the knitter's art.

Lavonne is an expert crocheter and expectant Mom, and has learned to knit in record time. But none of this is easy.

Madeline is an expert knitter, but the invisible cast-on is a tricky bit of knitting.

Madeline and Mrs. Oyama

Irene is also a relative newcomer to the art of knitting, but has conquered Fair Isle, so obviously fancy-pants cast-ons will be a walk in the park for her.

Irene and Christine

Christine is a quick study and managed to accomplish the magic trick of crocheting cord and knitting into it and then removing the cord and finding a perfect knitted edge on the first try. But Christine is a magician in her other life.
Mrs. Oyama and Christine

Nancy learned to knit a year ago, and hasn't stopped since. Midlife is like a whole new beginning. Note her lovely scarf, knit in mistake rib out of Noro Kureyon.


flowers and desserts

Yup, good conversation, great yarn, AND goodies to eat. A good time was had by all!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The roll-brim hat from hell

Or, why you shouldn't use variegated yarn.

Yeah. So at first I notice, Oh wow, look at that, the colors are lining up! That's unexpected but maybe it will look cute like that. So I kept going. The "lining up" isn't perfect of course, so gradually rather than blocks of colors, I have smears of colors. I can live with that. Then it's time for the decreases. Hmmm, that can only make things more confusing. All of a sudden instead of blocks or smears of colors, it looks like plain old variegation. Wow, this is really another traffic stopper. What to do?

It must be time for Kool-Aid! I bought three packets, in some kind of blue, grape and black cherry and poured them all into a casserole dish. A quick dunk and some microwaving, followed by a rinse, and instead of wildly clashing colors, I now have blocks and smears and variegations in a more sedate and muted tone. Still blocks and smears and all that, but toned down quite a bit.

Now how to dry this monstrosity? Well look at that! A hat form, masquerading as a basket!

This hat will accompany me to Chicago. Be afraid, Windy City!