Thursday, June 23, 2011
a family reunion
I just returned from a traditional summer punctuation: a family reunion. I now seem to be on the dwindling end of summer and my time here at home. I hadn't attended a reunion of my mother's family for quite a few years (at least away from my home, since it was held here last year) because they're normally held in Michigan or Illinois and the car rides are tortuously long. The feeling of being hundreds of miles away from home with no control over my movements while being confined to few square feet of car if I ever want to get anywhere safe again has never been a thing I've enjoyed. This year, however, I wasn't going to let my peculiarities get in the way of seeing this extremely lovable side of my family all together (mostly) for perhaps the last time, since I'll be slaving away for the next six summers trying to pay for rent in Boston-- if everything goes well (that is a grim thought). So-- and this is becoming a disturbing theme on this blog-- I went into a medically induced semi-conscious state and slept most of the way there only to stumble drearily into gas stations to buy mini oreos. Maybe I was waaayy stoned or I'm just old, because the nine hour drive went by much faster than before.
The main attraction in Evanston last weekend, during the reunion, was the Custer Street Fair, which I'd been to once before and definitely enjoyed more several years ago. This year the best thing about it was the adorable doggies panting along with their fanny-pack wearing owners.
Previously, I'd been intrigued by the sand-filled glittery dragons and fluffy marionette puppets (missing this year) but this year the only real attraction for buying were the tables full of cheapo rings.
And some not so cheapo rings:
Steph wouldn't come to the reunion because she has recently fallen in love with someone and must spend every waking moment with him, so though she's recently taken time off work for visits to friends she didn't think it was worth it to come to the reunion and consequently charged me with getting her something from the Fair. I got her a claddagh ring because it was the the nicest of the lot. I'd want to keep it for myself if I didn't think that they're a bit cheesy and I'd want to buy an authentic one in Ireland someday if at all. I got myself a set of little hoop earrings, for a bit of ~flair~ instead.
It wasn't insanely hot, but it felt sweltering in the middle of Main Street with so many people, especially since I ended up walking over to it about four times during Saturday and Sunday. On the plus side, the people of Evanston definitely have a thing for pansies, which was quite a welcome sight during the bustle.
The highlight of my second trip to the Fair was finding the sale trolleys outside Chicago Rare Books (this picture was taken on yet another trip to mainstreet on Monday after the Fair ended, hence the peace and quiet). I immediately pounced on a kitschy boxed set of Barbara Pym books for $6-- which are worth thrifting because it seems that there is only one publishing house (Plume) producing them now and the paperbacks don't seem to be worth a whole $16 each-- then discovered a whole slew of gems from Waugh, Wodehouse and Christie in a way that seemed like they'd been stacked there for me. I'd have bought more, but these are all authors that I prefer to check out from the library and don't usually buy because they're such quick reads. I couldn't resist the sale though and I'll post pictures tomorrow.
Oh, and did I mention that they had a fair few of the notoriously trendy Penguin paperbacks just sitting there with the $3 Agatha Christies? I bought one and nearly bought the rest to sell on ebay, regardless of content, but I figured that I'd leave them there for someone else to discover.
The inside of the shop was casually impressive, with a lot of beautiful old books of miniature or magnificent proportions behind glass and a cashier sitting behind the high counter with a fan on him. I didn't get to look around as long as I'd have liked because I felt that everything inside was out of my cheapo budget and I don't think fan-man appreciated that I was taking pictures. I have liked to photograph all the ones I wanted to buy but I'm not that shameless.
It was really quite a lovely store though and I'd go there again. But I do live in a town without a bookstore, so I may be a tiny bit impressionable.
The next stop was a perennial favorite: Dave's Rock Shop. This place is always worth a visit with its vials of gold, cubbies full of shiny rocks, crystals, heavy copper spheres and museum in the basement. I wanted some of the emerald jewelry but, alas, could not afford the very crime novel-esque $700 necklace that sat mysteriously behind glass. One day though.
There are plenty of things to get, though, for less than that.
My mom, for example, spent a lot of time picking out the prettiest rocks from this display to fill a glass apothecary jar in her bathroom, much to the chagrin of the seven-year-olds waiting for their turn. She has a thing for rocks and boulders that is unexplainable.
My geologist uncle apparently had a small mental break here last year and spent a lot (totally understandable).
You can see what I mean when I say that most of the Fair booths couldn't really compete with the sparkling geodes. I also went to Vogue Fabric but I can't say I'd recommend going there (maybe for buttons) it as the lady ripped rather than cut my yard of fabric, which ended up having a swathe cut out of the middle of it, probably for a sample. The notions were overpriced and they had hardly any quilting fabric, but I expected that.
While all this was going on, Andreas was sucked into the guitar store and may or may not have have been ripped off on an extremely expensive Gibson that cost more than I've ever made working during the summer.
Well, it made him really happy.
OK, so excuse my money-centered talk-- I don't know where that came from because this side of the family is very nonmaterialistic-- because my favorite part of staying in Evanston (where my mom grew up and we lived for a few years) was the urban gardening and the trees. They may only have a little patch of front yard to show off, but that doesn't mean Evanstonians don't make use of it.
There are a lot of very beautiful American porches and ornamental trees. The japanese maples, in particular, made my mother very jealous (we can't grown them here).
My grandparent's house is no exception. They may be nearing eighty, but that doesn't keep them from weeding the lawn for dandelions.
This has to be the best dog walking area ever: so pleasant, so green.
(This house, above, fenced off their landscape with "caution" tape during the Fair.)
I won't deny that I wish that the part of Boston I'm moving to looked like this.
Much of the reunion was spent lounging around on the swing (which the larger male cousins broke once, per tradition) and watching the people bonking into other cars while trying to park for the Fair. It was bumper to bumper, again and again, and very riveting stuff. It made me feel better about my own parallel parking skills.
Of course, after the Fair on Monday things went back to being peaceful.
I am very glad that I went, even if I partially melted in the sun, as evidenced by this picture with my esteemable girly cousins-- who are growing up much to fast, in my opinion, and only wanted to watch horror movies and Jackass the entire time...bless them.
This is my aunt and uncle's extremely silly cockapoo who has crazy eyes and bandy grasshopper legs that let him get anything off the counter, forcing his family to store their garbage can in a cupboard. We were leaving and he happened to be sitting like this:
It is very strange because the whole family is fairly stoic but just happen to have the most (insert Austenian voice here) ridiculous dog ever.