TP Meet-up Chicago 21-22 March 2012, Part 2
22.04.2012 - 23.04.2012 13 °C
Dawn broke to the sound of sweat, the sweat that was pouring over our bodies like Niagara Falls after a full year of rain. Rum seemed to ooze from my pores, filling the air with a stale Caribbean aroma. I managed to find the floor with some difficulty, and, sauntering to the door amidst the sweet rumbling snoring of my Dearest, I found the kitchen. Ah, coffee, nectar of the Gods themselves, would be just the ticket to ensure my bright-eyed and bushy tail-ness. Oh my God, this has to be the smallest coffee maker in the world. 4 cups? What good would that be to awaken my senses, to bring life back into my rum-swollen body? Oh well, when in Rome, make do and shut up. In a mere 3 hours, the machine had produced a sufficient quantity of nectar to satisfy a rather smallish dog. Fortunately, I felt like a rather smallish dog. Sipping the life-giving liquid, I noticed the faint aroma of carnitas. Memories flashed through my brain like like a Midwestern tornado attacking a trailer home. The previous evening, just prior to boarding the tramp steamer bound for Greece, I was standing on the back porch of the condo enjoying a finely rolled mini cigar. The neighbors were in full party mode. I waved with a smile, and they yelled over, asking if I liked carnitas. I nodded yes, and they waved me over, attempting to supplicate me with their evening's repast. Being a social animal and mildly drunk, I quickly grabbed a bottle of my best fermented malt beverage and waltzed over to the next yard. Gabriel, who had the good fortune of celebrating another year of life, was in full cooking mode, laboring over a large cauldron of boiling meat products. Family members had gathered by the hundreds, and many greeted me with wide smiles and interesting sayings uttered in Spanish, some of which I deftly translated to mean "Hello funny-shaped donkey person of cheese-based origin". My translation skills were keen. I handed Gabriel my beer and wished him a "Feliz Cumpleanos", which I surmised the family took to mean "please accept my cheese and live happily in this shoe box". At that moment, a rather short and stocky woman, who appeared to have seen many more days than I, handed me an overflowing plate of carnitas, rice, guacamole, and tortilla chips and proffered what I took to mean "eat this, it probably won't kill you". I tasted the succulent meat, and intense flavor washed over my dulled senses. Wow, good carnitas, I said in Spanish, though I think the family thought I said "you are more kind than armadillos". I left with a smile and many "gracias", and we boarded the tramp steamer for Greece.
Just after my 13th pot of mini-brewed coffee, Katie and my Darling awoke, slightly groggy and in need of caffeine. Soon, the computer devices came out, and we all sat and checked out the latest happenings on the interweb. In short order, His Peterness made use of the texting function on his "intelligent" telephony device and told Katie (as My Sweet and I are sadly lacking in intelligent telephony devices) that we should all meet at the Field Museum Hall of Ancient Creatures at 10:30 am. Katie was to be meeting a friend that day and sadly, would not join us in our archaeological expedition. And so, with much combing of hair and brushing of teeth, my Love and I boarded our dear Beaner and headed south to the museum.
Chicago has, since I lived there in the last century, completely re-developed the lake shore and museum campus area. All roads lead to what can only be described as a maze of lanes that lead directly to very expensive parking lots. Clever, these city designers. It was not unlike fishing, only we were the fish, and they hooked us and brought us on board.
A short 4 km walk out of the parking structure and we were in the Hall of Ancient Creatures. I called His Peterness on our dumb phone and left a message. "We're here, we'll meet you at Sue the Dinosaur". Succinct, to the point. Apparently He and His Family had become ensnared in the maze of Chicago parking facilities and with any luck, and using the latest in high-tech GPS Global Where-The-Hell-Am-I technology, They would soon make an appearance. Right then, time for a photo op.
My Sweet fends off the vicious, blood-sucking dinosaur, mocking it with diet-based epithets and impressive scowling. She was named Sue, not because the most intelligent minds of the scientific community believed she was a she (they don't actually know), but because they knew someone associated with the find, and her name was Sue. Scientists, you have to love their wit and ingenuity.
It was just at that moment in time that His Peterness and His Darling Family arrived. It was a Matrix-like moment - time stood still, people ceased moving, Sue winked from barren eye sockets, and we were again together. "Hi, how's the condo", I queried. "Don't ask, it's shite", exclaimed Her Janelleness. "That good, eh". "Sorry about that, but we're here now, what shall we explore first". "The loo". And so after a brief stop for potty, we were off. The Children desired to see Dinosaur Bones. Many pictures in front of Sue later, we made for the second floor where, the museum map promised, we would see many more bones. And so there were. Who knew that a natural history museum would be so full of stuffed animals and bone sculptures? How did these keen minded scientists really know how all the bones fit together? My own scientific curiosity was ablaze. Maybe that skeleton of a woolly mammoth really should look different, more sinister, more malevolent. Perhaps that extinct bison should really look like large herbivorous possum. Why are the horns in front on the head, and not on the behind? That would make for a fine defense against posterior-attacking predators. My years of scientific study had always taught me to question posterior-attacking predators, so I was in my element. But what I was wholly unprepared for, as years of scientific training doesn't cover this subject, was child wrangling.
Child wrangling requires a new definition of patience and persistence, not to mention stamina. I have never borne children, thanks to the gender Gods, but I was now learning just what it was like to be a long distance runner. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and my first step came at me like a raging tiger intent on making me its feast. I had never known that children could move so quickly, that their cat-like reflexes are honed at birth. I followed the children past aisle after aisle of displays, past stuffed animals and dioramas that became a blur. I felt driven to make sure that said children did not wander off and suddenly find themselves parent-less, for that condition is generally followed by panic and the desire to wet oneself. Wet children are nothing to be trifled with, as they become another species altogether, one bent not only on drying but finding nourishment.
My thousand mile journey had become a memory, as I had already journeyed many more miles after Miles. Mother and Father took this in stride, for they have acclimated and evolved as child chasers. My Sweetest and I had not evolved, and so it was time to dine, to feast on the offerings of the Hall of Ancient Creatures.
It was here that I made the most significant scientific discovery of the last several hundred years, one that I was astounded to learn no keen scientist before me had made. This revolutionary discovery could change scientific dogma as we know it. Bread seeds exist. It was during our sup, which reminded me of adult condors feeding their chicks little scraps of meat, that I made my world-changing discovery. Miles was terribly occupied, like his sister, consuming a rather large portion of bread. The child portion of macaroni and cheese held little interest, though it did bring back memories to me. I glanced over at Miles and found that he had a rather large number of bread crumbs on his shirt. I pointed this out to him, saying " Miles, you have bread seeds all over your shirt". Miles energetically replied "bread doesn't have seeds". I said "some bread does". He said "no it doesn't". I said "yes it does". This went on for some time, and I finally convinced the poor lad that if he didn't wipe the bread seeds off his shirt, they might sprout and he would have bread plants all over his body. Ah children, their little minds are so awash in curiosity, and I felt a bit devilish for planting (ha) this idea in his head. But as with most things in life, I couldn't resist. I did apologize profusely to Mother and Father for planting (ha) such a possibly strong notion in their baby's head, but it was amusing nonetheless. I would be curious to know if, at some distant point in the future, Miles would remember that moment and say the same thing to his children. At least I didn't tell him what my father told me at the same age, that I was brought to them by the garbage men.
And so it was time to leave the Hall of Ancient Creatures, since May had become desperately consumed with pushing every red button on every display to watch the video of how organic life began on this planet. Fascinating yes, but time waits for no child.
Katie had returned from visiting her friend, and had stopped along the way to procure the evening's meal, deftly hunting down two wild chickens, killing and plucking them, and obtaining sweets for dessert. Apparently the chicken hunt went well, as Katie showed no ill signs of the life and death struggle. Chocolate can put up one hell of a fight.
The evening's entertainment was to be a showdown between two titans of the cooking world, my Lovely the Talented, and His Peterness the Acknowledged, may the best chicken win. But wait, first there was to be a "Hangout on G+". Technically, this was to be the "TP Chicago Meet-up 2012 Hangout on G+", but who's quibbling with semantics. Schedules for this momentous event had been sent around the world, inviting all to join and "hangout". Computer devices were set up after all the laborious technical details had been accomplished. The first, and as it turns out only, TP member to join the hangout was She, She who lights up the life of Greater Canuckistan, Eastern Bureau, the Incomparable Tweety of Montreal. The hangout was a technical marvel, surpassed only by the moon landing and the invention of garlic sauce. We laughed, we nearly cried, we were joyous. The sudden appearance of the heretofore unseen Neal of Greater Northern Ireland and the charming Sarah of Greater Montreal made for much joy. Hangouts on G+ include the ability to superimpose pirate hats, monocles, scuba masks, and mustaches on the participants, and all were used extensively. There was cheer. The children were most bemused by their newfound virtual apparel. The hangout lasted for several months, and finally, after many days of tearful goodbyes and virtual hugs, it was time for the Grand Smackdown, the Dinner that would end all Dinners.
There was much jockeying for position in the cozy kitchen, not the least of which was by me, as I had been tasked with making the most crucial element of the Dinner, garlic mashed potatoes. I deftly beat the other cooks out of my way with my mashing fork, sparing few bloody noses in the process. This kitchen was poorly stocked with even the most basic of cooking utensils. But we made do. Katie was well occupied creating a dish of chocolate thingies, His Peterness and my Darling were well entrenched in cooking chicken, and the race was on, albeit with a bit of competitive spirit.
After much thrashing about and flailing of utensils, we finally sat together as a clan and began the consumption. The clan agreed, after some discussion and tossing of knives, that the chicken challenge was a tie - neither chef had overcome the other. I quietly sneeked into the Champions Chair via my exquisite potatoes. Janelle was so impressed that she went for seconds with a large spoon. I felt like Leonardo di Caprio on the fore deck of the Titanic - I was indeed on top of the world (or was that Jimmy Cagney?). The children were not as complimentary, offering a vicious critique of sage marinade versus curry rub. Damn kids, they can be so cruel. Where is Sponge Bob when you need him? Fortunately, Katie's delicious chocolate surprise dessert saved the day, and all strife was forgotten. Mmmmm, chocolate.....
Many more hours passed, and it was finally time for The Family to depart for their condo of Despair (shite-hole, I think was the description).
The consumption of many more adult beverages proceeded, and soon there was a call from Him. Were we still up for that game of Scrabble? Of course we were, silly Admin. And in a mere 12 minutes, He arrived again, mental dictionary in hand. Katie broke out the Scrabble board, conveniently packed for just such an occasion. Knowing the clever wiles of He, I began plying Him with the fermented malt beverages I have created. I knew that alcohol dims the senses.....trust me, I'm dim, so I know it works. We selected our tiles, and the intellectual challenge began. The players were determined to not be outdone, proffering such words as "the", and "Travellerspoint". Fortunately, Travellerspoint has 15 letters so that was out. Besides, it would have made a killer triple word score. Katie the Scrabble Shark handily won the first game (3,000,410 to 4) as she has done on many occasions at our humble abode, and through the rum-infused fog that was my mind, I think I almost won the second. Nearly. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. Begrudgingly, His Peterness returned to His condo of shite. Many hugs and kisses.
We Three awoke the next day to a sumptuous breakfast prepared by Her Katieness - Pillsbury crescent rolls wrapping bacon (ham to our neighbors in the UK), eggs, and cheese, and baked to perfection. Oh my God - there is no meal that cannot be improved with bacon. We ate with abandon, knowing that our time was limited in the Condo. Packing our ten metric tonnes of luggage and many hugs ensued. Because I'm anal about these things, I scrubbed the Condo to absolute cleanliness, including the dishes, and we made for home.
I was content in the fact that I had left many bottles of fermented malt beverages for His Peterness and Her Janelleness to consume. They no doubt needed such sustenance to continue their evolution into Father and Mother, Keepers of the Children Who Know No Bounds.
We steered the Beaner west, toward that which was our home, Kalav Manor.
Our children were non-plussed. "Were you gone? We hadn't noticed". Thanks kids, we're touched by your sincerity.
And so endeth the Expedition of Dinosaur Bones and Bread Seeds.
Thank you dear readers for your attention and interest. You may now return your tray tables and seats to their upright positions.
Is this a crazy world, or what?