Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sis in the City

Yep, I'm back. And boy, were y'all chatty while I was away. I'm tickled.

As planned, my sister Susan flew back to Chicago with me after we visited our parents at their new house in Kokomo. Any visit with her will be too short for me, but we did make the most of the time allotted.

A few highlights:















Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was a motif of our childhood and it hangs, by happy chance, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Susan had never seen it in person. Now she has.

Considering that I introduced it to her via reproductions (including one I painted on my bedroom wall in Hawaii) and Sunday in the Park with George, it felt poetically just that I should be there when she came face-to-face with it at last.

Funny to think that when she first saw it she wasn't much older than the little girl in white at the center of the painting. Now, she's old enough to be the woman with the pet monkey.

We also went to Lincoln Park Zoo. When I was a kid, I had a fantasy about living close enough to a zoo that I could go any time I wanted to. And now I do, and I do.

The self-satisfied meercat at left is one of a little troupe (herd? litter? caucus?) that lives in the African Safari exhibit.

Most of the animals will go out of their way to run off, roll over or pee just when you get the perfect shot set up. Not the meercats. Little camera hogs, every one of them. They'll climb up on a log or a rock, give you an over-the-shoulder sweetheart pose and hold it while you adjust the camera.

I wish all my human models were so cooperative.

The trumpeter swans who live in the pond had hatched out a brood since my last visit. We came upon the nest and were struck dumb by the sight. One of the parents was swimming about while the other kept an eye on the kiddies.

Truth be told, swan babies are pretty homely. Hans Christian Andersen didn't tell the half of it.

But it was touching to see them shuffling short distances on the bank, flapping their fuzzy gray wings and (no doubt) suffering dreadful agonies of self-loathing that will require years of therapy to sort through.

What surprised me most was the proximity of the nest to the public footpath. Didn't seem to bother the birds.


Buzz was of the party and managed to stuff his 6-foot frame into the gigantic, hollow clutch of chicken eggs in the main barn of the farm at the zoo.

The eggs are meant to attract children aged 5-10 years, but never mind.

In my experience, one can invariably count on Buzz to provide a bizarre photo opportunity, whatever the setting.

I think he should use this shot in his online profile, with the caption "Castor Seeks Pollux."

Next to the zoo is the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and we paid a brief call because the temperature in the place had to be at least 90 degrees, with the sort of humidity that must be very welcome when you're a frog or a palm tree.

Before the beads of sweat became too pronounced, Buzz took this shot of Susan and me. I'm rather rumpled and gray, but I like it anyway, so thank you, Buzz sweetie.


On Saturday night we went down to Old Town and took in a performance of Red Scare, the latest review at The Second City.

TSC is celebrating its 45th year, which blows my mind. 45 years is a long time for a theater company to stick around, especially in the United States.

This is Susan before the performance, with the famous stage in the distance. I wasn't sure how much she'd like the show. If her laughter was any indication, I made the right choice.

I live near Lake Michigan, and on previous visits (at Thanksgiving) the weather conditions haven't exactly been conducive to a stroll, so this time we walked over to the harbor and looked at the boats.

This is the first time C and Susan have had a chance to spend much time together, so I was delighted (but not surprised) that they got on well.

Then we went home and watched, at C's recommendation, Napoleon Dynamite and giggled madly. (I never saw that sort of movie before I met C. It's nice when the person you fall for is able to open new doors for you.)

All the walking and looking was terrific, as was the eating and eating and eating, but of course nothing could quite match the thrill I felt at the sight of this:

Susan, having just knitted her first row ever. She followed it with several more, at which point I showed her how to bind off and we agreed she had just made a perfectly respectable wrist band or Barbie shawl.

Alas, I only had time to teach her the slingshot cast-on, the knit stitch (continental), and a basic bind-off.

Marilyn will be pleased to know I also taught her to say, "Shut up, I'm counting."

I packed her off to Maine with the needles, a ball of leftover yarn, a yarn needle for finishing and a new copy of Stitch 'n' Bitch. (Yeah, I know. But I think it's a very fine teach-yourself book for a beginner with no nearby mentor or support network and I'm not afraid to say so. If she sticks with it, she'll get Maggie Righetti and St. Elizabeth Zimmerman and all the others.)

(Does this make me a yarn pusher?)

I won't be heartsick if she doesn't keep up with it, but I sure hope she does. Between her first row and her final row there was a decided increase in speed and agility, and I swear she got that look in her eye. You know the one I mean.

Just wait until she learns to purl.

21 comments:

goblinbox said...

St. Elizabeth Zimmerman! LOL!

Nice pics in today's post. Your sister is lovely.

JoVE said...

We don't call it 'pusher'. We call it 'enabler'. All comes to the same thing in the end.

sep said...

adorable! all of you! welcome back and good to hear from you. from barbie shawls to afghans, it just takes a little taste of success :)

obscure said...

Enjoyed spending the day with you all!
Kokomo pics next?

If your sister's in Maine, just encourage her to visit Halcyon in Bath and she'll never stop knitting.

Rachel said...

Franklin, so lovely of you to give us such a nice glimpse into your happy weekend. I am always so amazed at what you are able to communicate with pictures and words. Such an artist...

And in honor of Napoleon Dynamite I was going to try to put down a really excellent quote, but as I tried to pick one out, the list was getting very long and I just couldn't decide on one. Also, I figured that since you've already seen the movie, that surreal experience was enough and you don't need the further surrealized experience of the movie as viewed through the eyes of the village knittiot. Lucky!

And oh how exciting that Sister Sue is knitting! Of course, we all knew it was only a matter of time...

dragon knitter said...

my question about buzz in the egg exhibit, is that if this is meant for children ages 5-10, does that mean he's child-like (or childish?). just sayin. and no, you're not a pusher, you're an enabler. that's acceptable. now, just give her a gift certificate to elann.com or some such, and watch the needles fly.

Cheryl said...

Great post, glad you are back!! It's wonderful that you and your sister are friends. What is that necklace she is wearing in the knitting picture. I love the swan picture --
so how was your parents new house?? (and the airstrip I read about on your sister's blog)...

Rabbitch said...

She's gorgeous, and you are to be commended for bringing her over to the dark side.

I'll give you three years before you start with pushing the spinning, mmkay?

Cathy said...

Hey! I learned how to knit from Stitch N Bitch! It's also what drew me into knitting to start with--I had to learn how to make the Alien Illusion scarf....

Less than a year later, I'm doing the Super Spiral shawl from Gathering of Lace and h ave ammassed several other pattern books/magazines. But I still refer to SNB for the Kitchner Stitch.....

TrickyTricot said...

Franklin-

This is the type of long juicy post I wish everyone would do - I loved it, it was better than Cats, I'd see (read) it again and again.

I also love the zoo... which is odd for me.

PS Someone owes me a big plate of brownies - FYI, I don't like nuts.

Sean said...

I agree with Jove...enabler is a more appropriate word. What a whirl-wind week you had!

I remember teaching my sister to knit...she got that look too! I know the one you're talking about.

Lee Ann said...

Sister Sue is absolutely lovely, and looooook at that smile on her face in the knitting photo...priceless. Barbie shawls...well, girl's gotta have *something* to cover the plastic weaponry, you know.

You're not a pusher, you're just spreading the love. But don't show her the spindle yet. It's way too soon.

Jon said...

I'm so glad you are back and that you had a good time with your sister.

And I have to say, I'm glad that we got a full body shot of you in, complete with, um, package? bawahahahahahahahaha

markknitz said...

what a great weekend! it makes me miss chicago. and good you for spreading knitlove.

Bonnie said...

I adore that pot-bellied meerkat!!!

Kathy Merrick said...

Franklin, your bum doesn't look at all oversized in these photos. Oh, right, they're all frontal.
As has been said, your sister is lovely, and your family tales lively and interesting.
Me, I don't like the zoo. Not even the beautiful old Philadelphia Zoo, oldest in the US.
It's all those reptiles and lizards and things that hang out in hot drippy places.

Colleen said...

That has got to be the fattest meerkat I think I've ever seen. What do you folks in Chicago FEED those things?

You are just too damn cute. Too bad for us girls, huh?

The trip looks like an absolute blast. I love going to the zoo.

Franklin said...

She is mighty pretty, ain't she?

Obscure: yup, some Indiana stuff is coming up, including a LYS review.

Dragon: One of Buzz's many charms is his puppyish nature - he's a tall guy but has much romp in him as a little kid sometimes. Always makes for fun.

Cheryl: Susan's necklace has the name "Marsha" in Arabic script. Marsha/Martha was one of our Arab great-aunts, and the necklace was originally hers.

Rabbitch: The only thing stopping ME from spinning after looking at your photos is the need to keep major funds going to camera equipment. If I get Susan into spinning, I could always borrow her wheel...

Cathy: Of all the books out there, SnB is the one I'm most likely to give a beginner. I think DS did a phenomenal job with the instructional parts and even though a lot of the patterns are way out there, I also like them (and love the selection you get for the price of the book). The Alien Illusion scarf may hit my project list soon.

Colleen: thank you darlin, and I don't know what they feed those things. From the looks of it, Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza.

birdfarm said...

Sorry I'm late piping up here, but as everyone else said, it was so nice to virtually enjoy a little taste of your wonderful time with Sister Sue and misc supporting cast. ;) Truly an exemplary post... beautiful pix too. I loved the necklace before I knew what it meant, and now I know it's a family heirloom it's even more charming.

I miss you! When o when will you have a free weekend so we can go to the zoo, which, by the way, Loopy & I also adore? (Loopy's favorites are the spectacle bears)

So glad you had fun...

moiraeknits said...

Fantastic pictures! You two look so happy together. And nice shots of C!

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