Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Slice of the (Holiday) City

Faithful readers will know that about twice a year I journey to the nearest big city for an overnight stay, to feed on all the color and energy I can, and bring it back home for inspiration. Now we are speaking of a place just one hour away, a place that many neighbors commute to daily for work. Because we don't have close by public transit, that repeat drive would wear away the charm. The traffic, the parking, the cost. For me, though, it is that special stash of somethin' I keep in the back of the closet, to bring out when I am feeling low and need a treat, some extra dose of color, noise, and surprise. It never fails to deliver. And yet, I am always glad to get in the car and return to my peaceful place. I bring with me the inspiration and the bigger picture of what is possible, and I try to fill my life with its glow.

We had a quiet stretch of holidays this year. No close-by family, just a few events with friends. We did put up a tree and lights, dress up on occasion, eat some wonderful food. But what I remember most about December are the sights and smells, the walks and talks of two married people out on a date on the town. Come along and share the memory. (And if anyone ever asks you to come visit them in Chicago, find a way.)

Christkindlmarket 2012.
 Note the "balmy" temps indicated by the ability to take off hat and gloves, if only for a little while.

It's a sort of family friendly, drunken good time with fatty foods and Christmas ornaments in the middle of of the day in the middle of Daley Plaza.

I think Elphaba was there in disguise!

This year's souvenir mug was pretty in white, and even cooler in "negative" camera effects.

The Man was a little scary this way, so I cropped him a bit. You'll just have to imagine an entire green Dave.

Taking a break from street walking with a pizza lunch at Cafe Baci, across from Millennium Park skating rink.

Refreshed we take on the wonders of the Chicago Cultural Center, always grand and beautiful...

...but accessible to the people like the library it once was.

There are always wonderful exhibits of thought provoking contemporary art, but sometimes I just enjoy photographing the beautiful galleries with the glorious views.

Finally back to the room for a rest. Our "Fiona" was waiting for us.

The first of several journal pages for the visit. I am trying to start a more regular practice of both drawing and journaling. I am starting to see some amazing improvements, and it makes me want to do more.

Friday morning breakfast, and what would a day off be for the man without a work call or several?

I got this one laid out in a jiff, took a couple of photos, then finished it  at home. We wouldn't want that egg and bacon "sammich" getting cold!

A return to Macy's to just wander, though we found some incredible bargains and made a few purchases. No, not that hat.

The basement level has a large busy food court with some rather fresh and tasty sushi.

The bargains may be on State Street, but a visit to the Mag Mile is always required. This is the controversial new Burberry Store, kind of pretty, but a rather flashy, "look at me!" neighbor.

Just getting ready to begin his "set" as I walked by and clicked.

Always some new angle to fascinate the visual palate.

Sadly this was the same day something terrible came to pass in the history of violent senseless behavior. I drew for a while while we listened to the news.

Wine hour number two, and many attempts at a self portrait in front of the fire and holiday tree.

Some great and scary masks line the stairwell to the restrooms at our Mexican restaurant, "Dos Diablos" on Hubbard Street. We chose not to ride the mechanical bull out front, but did have some excellent dinner and drinks.

As tragic and sad as the news of the day, the weather was outrageously  balmy and demanded a long and relaxing after dinner stroll, including one last walk through the late opened stores. Reflections on the Chicago River.

A truncated view of Marina City from the State Street bridge.

Watching the traffic go by.

It felt more like a summer evening (for those of us used to Chicago winters, that is.) Normally if we were walking in December we would be running to get inside a next destination.

My favorite clock at the corner of Wacker and Wabash. 

So many movies about Chicago use shots of this elevated "L-turn" on Lake Street. Sometimes we have a hotel room that looks down on this scene. I never tire of watching the trains round the corner.

The color of the city was gold, and red...

and glowing green.

Whoosh and clickety-clack.

They glow and change color, and are almost impossible to photograph realistically, so a little color editing doesn't hurt.

When you get them up close, the color washes out. I still like the way they frame the street scene.

I washed the color out of this one to turn gold to silver, and a more wintry mood. The trumpets of Macy's blare.

And of course, we had to find some Christmas red.

Oh, and this is the special "Chicago" stash I'm keeping in the closet right now. Some sinfully expensive and exotic chocolate from Vosges.
I'm all filled up and ready to begin a winter of new classes and art adventures. (Don't be surprised if you start hearing something about giraffes!)

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