Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nobody told me Chicago smells like chocolate!

So, our big trip last week was to visit my family for my Grandma's 80th birthday. 80 years old! And she still is so lively and youthful, you would mistake her for being at least 20 years younger.

From LA, we usually fly into Chicago, and then take a commuter plane to the Midwest town where most of my extended family members live. Almost every single one. I can see why - it's a very nice place to live. Kind of makes me wonder why my parents left so many years ago...

Those of you in the upper Midwest don't need to be told about the freakish weather that has descended upon that area as of late - rain, cold, and terrible wind. I expected a little rain, being Spring and all, but the cold and wind were just too much. I mean, the peonies weren't even out yet for crying out loud! So, flying into Chicago, it came as little surprise that our commuter plane flight and many other small flights out of O'Hare were cancelled. Not skipping a beat, while people around me were cursing and throwing down their bags, I shouted, "This is great! Now we can spend the night in Chicago!" You see, my parents were flying into O'Hare the next day, and were planning all along on driving to our family's town. The airline gave us a hotel room for cheaper than it would have cost for BT and me to rent a car, and a night in Chicago is just a tad more interesting than a night out where my family lives (but really just a little - hi everyone!)

So, after tracking down our luggage and checking into our American Airlines provided budget hotel, we took the train downtown and went to probably the most touristy restaurant you could go to: Harry Caray's. I had just read the article in Food and Wine Magazine during the plane trip that described the creative genius of chef Paul Kahan of Blackbird, but since this was BT's first time in Chicago, and I hadn't been there since I was very young, we went with something safe, but still unique to Chicago. I did mention it was freezing, right? A few degrees colder, and it would have snowed, I think. Or maybe that's just the California girl in me talking. It was a pretty miserable night to be out, but I was blinded by all the sights and sounds of a "real" big city (you Angelenos know what I mean), and intoxicated by the smell of -- chocolate?

After getting off the train at Clark and Lake, the air was filled with a smell like brownies baking. I thought maybe a bakery was up the stairs from the train stop - but no, we never seemed to get closer to the smell, and it never dissipated. Being the lamer that I am, I asked our waiter about it. He said there was a chocolate factory downtown, though he forgot the name, and how tourists always commented about it. Hrmpf. If I lived in Chicago, the chocolate factory would be my constant companion, and I would never forget about her. Apparently the EPA shares our waiter's opinion that the factory is best forgotten. I personally would recommend a study to see if there is a correlation between the chocolate smell and why people in Chicago are by and large so darn friendly!

This is a lot of writing for me, and so far no pics. So, I'll end with my little quizzical for May. Now, this one may favor my long-standing readers, but perhaps not. Since I am still reveling in spending a week with family, the quizzical will focus on that. So, the question is, how many siblings do I have?

That's me in the center, of course. Now, you will be graded not only on whether or not you get the correct answer, but also who has the funniest response. Heck - you don't even have to be right - just make me laugh. Come on and let me know how good or bad I am at telling you about my past. Winner receives a unique Happy Pack!


Barb said...

Crap, I don't know the answer, but I love the idea of the chocolate. I've heard that when people want to sell their homes, to place cinnamon and sugar on a piece of foil in their oven and turn it on low. Gives the house a whole mom-baking vibe, and people are more apt to buy. Interesting how powerful smell can be. I work in a store with a bakery, and let me tell you, after awhile you never want to smell muffins baking again. So maybe that's why the chocolate factory isn't so highly regarded. So nice you got to visit your grandma. I love grandmas.

Jennifer said...

I just got back two days ago from those seven days of rain and 45 degree weather. we spent our time between chicago and the middle of nowhere illinois. 30 minutes of sun in 7 days! and my mom wonders why I don't want to move back...

Emy said...

Chocolate! Better than a dog food factory! Or a paper mill! We used to drive through a town that had a papermill and it did smell like dog food! I think they were throwing some rotten meat into that paper or something.
I've never been to Chicago. My husband has been twice. I'm sure we will eventually get over there.
I have no clue how many siblings you have. I bet this is a trick question and you're an only child! Then you put in a picture with all these other kids to trick us! You're tricky!!! :D

Gina said...

Oh geez, I've seen the yellow and orange dreaminess that you have packaged, the polkadot black and white surprises. I can't imagine how happy a happy pack from you would be! I tremble at the thought of such happy (Ren and Stimpy happy, happy, joy, joy dance circles my head).

In the photo, honestly you all look alike, I see the same little noses. From the picture I would guess either four (or three), nervous giggle. I would say four but just in case to be extra cautious, just in case this is a trick, I could say three just because I can't see the nose on the baby on the left as good as the others.

Further analysis:

Okay you went to the place where the poppies grow, but they weren't and had thought about buying wooden toys for your nieces and nephews, that's plural, but is that plural parents?

On Easter you had nephew Parker's birthday party. Okay that's one for sure! I saw a photo! Oh, and the nieces were not at the party, plural again, but that still could leave me at the same place I was before! Oh - Parker could be your hubby's, nephew?

Oh, maybe I could do a search on her blog for the terms "brother" or "sister" or "siblings", oh shoot, that top bar with the search function is disabled on her blog!

You've got Johnson Brother China, oh that's not a brother.

You play Busta Brother with your husband, oh that's not a brother.

Come on Ren, come on Stimpy!!!!

BT has a brother, not the same?

You posted a photo of children in Paris 63, one day you'll tell us the story about the brother and the sister in the picture, oh but that's not your brother and sister.

Your grandma had a sister, you've got a sister in law, not right either is it.

Ren......? please come hither Ren....

Your niece is getting married in June of 07......... but what does that tell me? Sigh.

Okay, you've got dolls plural for nieces plural, but again, are they from plural parents or?

I'm more confused now than ever, oh wait I already was confused and that has nothing to do with any of this : ) I hope hope for happy happy that I win you over with the "at least make me laugh" part!

Hoping for happy -

Scarlet Tanager said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
heather said...

I believe you are an only child as well. Unfortunatly, I don't have time to entertain you as I have spent the last hour absorbed in your saga instead of getting my younguns ready for preschool.

Mmmm...A city that smells like chocolate. Looks like we will be changing our summer travel plans.

Handmade Girl said...

I have no idea how many siblings you have. The two boys sitting on either side of you resemble you, so I would guess that they are your brothers. The babies look forced upon the poor little boys, so I would guess they are cousins. The babies seem to close in age to be siblings, but not close enough to be twins (unless your parents were very, ummm... prolific). You guys Catholic? Then again, you look squashed between the two boys, looking as if you'd rather be somewhere else, so maybe one of the babies is your sibling, and the golden haired boys are cousins...
So, my Catholic answer is four (cause if this picture was hanging in any of my family members' houses, there would be no doubt that ALL of these kiddos were siblings).
But I say the golden boys are your brothers, so my official answer is two.

heather said...

Okay, I'm back. I had to do all that crazy stuff (drop kids, groceries, pick-up kids, laundry) that gets in the way of computer time.

Here's why I think you are an only child. The first time you mentioned caring for your nephews and neices you had not mentioned traveling anywhere nor did you mention having visitors and you said that almost every single one of your extended family lives away. So I am guessing those are your husband's siblings children.

Also, you have mentioned that your parents have saved all of your childhood things and kept them for you, this isn't as common when there are several children.

Lastly, at Thanksgiving, you mentioned how perfect your four-piece set of china would be. For your parents, BT and you.

I think all of those children in the picture are your cousins, probably on your mother's side.

Rebecca said...

Siblings? The universe revolves around me, I'm sure it does the same for you right?

(my lame attempt at funny ha-ha and I have no idea)


Alicia P. said...

Wah -- makes me homesick! My house was only a mile or so away from Ferrara Pan candy co. outside of Chgo. and it always smelled like Jawbreakers!

Megan said...

You are the 3rd eldest child of twelve: Jimmy, Jo, You, Julie, Jack, Jocelyn, John-John, Jessie, Jude, Jewel (I'm running out of J names), Jacinta and Jackson. Your Ma likes to alliterate, bless her, but she thought she'd try something different when it came to you and then changed her mind. Your Grandma Beth thought it was a silly idea, but no-one every listens to Grandma Beth, not since the disappearing cat incident anyway. Your Dad was never expecting a family this size, but three lots of triplets will surprise anybody. Your mother's a saint. Sometimes you count cousin Nate as a sibling, seeing as he lived with you after his folks died in that boating accident. (Tales of which still circulate in the town, as such things always do - was it really an accident? Rex, the Rex of the corner store, not Rex at church, had always had his doubts and likes to air them. Particularly after a half bottle of scotch, the consuming of which happens all too often these days, as your Aunt Maude, who isn't actually an Aunt but a good friend of your mothers and you just always called her Aunt, tells you. Got worse after the wife left him. Shame that.)

You find something comforting in this big crazy family of yours, but all your childhood you struggled to carve out an identity of your own. As a result, you have a secret life in which you tell strangers you're an only child.

Gina said...

Wait are those two sets of twins?
I still think mines pretty darn funny, crooked hopeful smile of anticipation??...happy happy? joy joy?

telfair said...

I totally missed out on the Quizzical but as a Midwest girl, I could have told you that the odds were very high that a Chicago flight would be canceled or delayed.

O'Hare is like the Bermuda Triangle...I HATE flying through there. During the holidays it looks like a refugee camp!

Welcome back!