Chicagoland! This is the whoppin’ (and windy) grand finale of book tour round-ups.
Though this is very late, Thanksgiving week is the perfect time for this post to land. I’m thankful for all of YOU and I treasure the enthusiasm, hipness and overall amazing community of everyone who reads and shares here.
My trip to Chicago happened over the second weekend of October, bringing me to town for four action-packed days. Upon arrival to snacks and refreshments at my dear friend, former roomie and host’s house in Evanston, I turned around and re-packed my little rollerboard, hopped on the El and set up my pickling demo table at the Lincoln Square Farmers’ Market.
We don’t get local honeycrisps in Texas, so I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy Illinois’ version of fall perfection.
Speaking of fall perfection, the following morning found me with my jaw agape and frequently taking pause while wandering around Evanston and Northwestern, where my friend teaches. This is the English Department. (I also got to sit in on my friend’s class; yay being-in-college-again!)
Clearly Czeslaw Milosz could’ve wrote this poem sometime in October in Evanston:
Cathedral of my enchantments, autumn wind
I grew old giving thanks.
from the book Road-side Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998)
The walk home from school that morning took about three times as long as it should have. I was dazzled every few feet.
That evening my friend and I sat out on her balcony and watched the sun set before her fellow English department pals headed over for an impromptu party.
Local veg snacks from the farmers’ market, balcony-grown herbs for garnish, my old roomie is a total hip inspiration! (She’s also my go-to source for removing red wine from just about anything.)
The following day we rented a car and headed west, to Jenn’s house in the Western burbs, that is. Jennifer is the instigator of this Chicago trip. Her kind persistence in the midst of my recent underemployment made me rethink the trip and how to make it work financially. She said, sell books!
And that we did. She sold 25 to be exact.
When we arrived, Jenn sat with us on the back deck and we chatted over cocktails. She’s the party goddess, period. Who else sits down and drinks cocktails with early guests before 20+ people are set to arrive? As guests arrived I wandered around noting all regions of her hip home-ify’ing.
Hello wire cooling rack in the entryway, decked out with a seasonal and/or event-based motif.
Hello thoughtfully selected serving utensils. (She sent me home with them, too.)
Hello husband who has a badass product line of hot sauces and BBQ sauces. (They sent me home with a selection of these, too.)
After a major bout of snackage, I led a pickling demo in her gorgeous backyard.
Jenn’s son Jake chimed in to back me up on the science of pickling, he rightfully named the transfer of enzymatic veg freshness en route to infused, pickled equilibrium as osmosis. He also helped me chop and prep green tomatoes. High school ladies take note, this one’s a keeper…
After an enchanted evening, we headed back to Evanston. My fave parting gift from the Downing family was the lobster costume that happened to be too big for June Bee (the family pup), yet, unfortunately for her, was just the right size for Lucy.
The next day we took the El over to the Andersonville nabe, where I was signing books and demo’ing in a fun new shop, Urban Orchard. I set up my table and showed folks how to use the local produce lining the refrigerator case shelves.
Jane Lynch was concurrently signing her book at a bookshop literally across the street from me. The line was around the corner for the duration of her signing event. Maybe I need a television show.
I flew home later that evening.
Jenn’s working on plans for bringing me back to Chicago in March 2012. I can’t wait to return!