Feeling the love back in ChiTown

The bolder fall colors are still here in Iowa, but the love was in Chicago this past weekend.

The leaves in Chicago didn’t seem to have that fiery autumn look; they just seemed to turn rusty brown and fall off the trees, already dead.

Megan and I weren’t paying too much attention to that, however. We were in town to see my family, and especially our nieces and nephew, Jordan, Kamryn and Brody!

This was only the second time I’d seen 5-month-old Brody, who now was much more engaging and interactive. And Jordan and Kamryn, 3 and 5 years old respectively, were their usual entertaining and cute selves.

This was the most time we’ve been able to spend with them in the past couple years, thanks to my new schedule that allows true weekends off (most of the time). We went in Friday night, played with them all day Saturday, and half of Sunday. And we were pretty tired out after that!

We also got some exercise in, heading out for a walk/run each morning we were there. We followed my old running route from high school, basically a 2-mile total out-and-back from my house on our street. Much of the street goes alongside a golf course, so you get the nice view looking out over that (and maybe some practice dodging errant golf shots). I don’t know how many times I’ve done that route over the years, but it definitely has a comforting aspect to it, kind of like “I know I’m home and life is good when I’m doing my route.”

Of course, I used to be much better at running it. I’m several dozen pounds heavier now, and my legs were really hurting during much of the running this weekend.

After that, we got ready to play with the kids. On Saturday the big event was visiting a pumpkin patch, which was much more than that: it was a children’s zoo, corn maze, fairgrounds, etc., and we never even looked at pumpkins. It was all about walking around and watching as Jordan and Kamryn played and pet the animals. It wan’t too bad at first; I took a lot of pictures and filmed video to hopefully put together for them, but after a while my already-hurting feet were starting to get really tired.

So what’s the best cure for tired feet? IKEA! We headed there to search for a corner shelf for Megan’s business. We walked the entire store but found no shelves. We did, however, get a firm metal-based spatula to replace our nylon one that often acted like a catapult. We also picked up a couple flexible and color-coded cutting boards–red for meat, white for everything else.

After that we headed home to get some rest before going over to my sister Barb’s house, where we spent the evening playing with the kids and enjoyed an impromptu dinner she made. Barb was grateful in that she got to use up some vegetables that had been piling up.

On Sunday, after our workout, we ended up taking Jordan and Kamryn to see my grandmother in Chinatown, providing Barb and Joe some time alone with Brody (who ended up sleeping the whole time we were gone). The outing worked out pretty well; it was only the second time we’ve ever taken Jordan and Kamryn out on our own, and they were really well-behaved. Also, we spent a good time on that outing with my grandmother, who doesn’t speak English (and I speak terrible Chinese). I’m usually pretty nervous being there on my own without my dad around to help translate and do some talking to keep things from being too silent and awkward.

Heading to Chinatown turned out to be an adventure. As we got there, we saw dark smoke billowing from one of the buildings. At one point we could even see flames shooting out of the roof! There were plenty of fire trucks, police cars, etc. on the scene, and we had to take a long detour to get where we needed. We saw lots of dumb drivers too, which I guess comes as no surprise. (If a police car is blocking entry to a street, DON’T ASK if you can drive in there!!!)

After that, we headed back to Barb & Joe’s and hung out, painting pumpkins with Jordan and Kamryn and spending a little more time with Brody. But then it was time to head back to Iowa.

We returned to my parents’ house, got packed up and got ready to say bye to my dad, who was in back trimming bushes. All of a sudden: “Wanna take the bushes out to the front? Half an hour!” (of gruntwork)

But what do you do? Here he is, working on everything, after letting you come home for the weekend. Of course I stayed to help. (I also had helped him clean the garage Saturday morning and bring the patio furniture down to the basement for the winter.)

But I think back to all those times when I was younger and refused to help out for one reason or another. I guess that came with the rebellion age, which I’m hoping I have passed. And back then, I used to think it was great that I got out of helping him out, that I didn’t get stuck doing it.

Until I realized that this meant he had to do it himself.

So like with the garage and the patio furniture, I got to work, stuffing branches into a garbage can to drag out to the front to dump for eventual composting. It also was a bit of a chance to chat with him, something that I don’t do often enough, and so in a strange way it was some bonding time between father and son.

(Come to think of it, maybe I ought to do more of this sometime. I’ve thought about ways I could spend more productive time with him other than the usual small talk, but it never seems to work out. If working on projects or chores together is the way to achieve this, then maybe it’s a small price to pay.)

So finally the branches are out at the curb and my dad has to take a break to repair the extension cord for the hedge trimmer because he just cut it for the umpteenth time with said trimmer. It was time me and Megan to start the four-hour drive back to Iowa, and we would be treated to a nice sunset on the way.

But in our rear-view mirror, there was a lot of love to look back on this past weekend.

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~ by davidllee on October 22, 2008.

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