Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 18: Snowbound in Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee Motel. . .

Our 18th week on the road was pretty restful. We were going to leave Chicago on Sunday January 5th, but a weather advisory kept us from traveling. Lots of snow and -15 degrees ("feels like -45). You know it's cold when two days later, it's 5 degrees and you think it feels rather warm outside.

We spent most of Sunday and Monday enjoying some serious downtime. When I was a child growing up in San Diego, it always felt wrong in my body that there weren't real seasons. It seemed unnatural for my body to keep going all the time; in fact, my body has internal hibernation periods that don't necessarily match seasons, since I've never lived where there's much in the way of seasonal weather. So it's usually hurry up and go-go-go and then collapse. I'm grateful for the chance to have natural downtime worked into my schedule. I looked at some old short stories and revised a piece called "Aprons." This story's about a newly married baker who's moved from Texas to California's Central Valley with her husband. She's lost a sense of her purpose and doesn't really know why she does what she does, whether it's getting married, having an affair, or running away from her goals. I wrote the piece years before I'd end up in California's Central Valley, strangely enough. Like much of my writing, it now reads like prophecy. It seems that I end up writing my future, even when I think I'm inventing lives.
Thanks, Kendra, Kapil, and Chester! 
We also had a great time visiting with Kendra and Kapil, eating dinners with them, having our first viewing of Downton Abbey with them, and listening to a few of their one thousand record albums. Or maybe it's two thousand.

Goodbye, Chicago! 
Tuesday, we packed up, ran some errands, said our goodbyes to Kendra, Kapil, and Chester, and left after rush hour on Wednesday morning. We had friends to visit in Indianapolis. Also, the Matisse collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art was on tour when we visited Baltimore in October and it happened to be in Indianapolis for one more week.

The roads still weren't great and it took us hours to travel from Chicago to Indianapolis, which should've been maybe a three hour maximum trip.

We arrived, used the fitness center in the motel, went to dinner, and had an early night.

The next day, we visited friends of Larry's who'd moved from San Francisco to a town about thirty minutes from Indianapolis. They made us a lovely lunch and we spent the afternoon catching up. They live in a semi-rural area and it was simply gorgeous with the fresh snowfall resting on bare trees.

In the late afternoon, we made our way to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which happens to be open late on Thursdays.

Indianapolis Museum of Art
The two highlights of the exhibit were the original prints and cut-outs from Matisse's "Jazz" book and the poems by local school children based on Matisse's paintings. I sat and read poem after poem by the kids ages four to seventeen. They were amazing.

Matisse is one of my three favorite painters (Chagall and Kandinsky are the other two), so the exhibit was a real treat. Super moving and inspirational.

The rest of the museum was amazing. We didn't have time to see all of it, but what we saw was enlightening. We especially loved the Thorton Dial exhibit, a Southern African-American artist who makes powerful unusual sculptural paintings.

Thornton Dial
Thorton Dial
Mardsen Hartley

Georgia O'Keefe
Driving back to the motel was an experience; the roads were lousy, a wintry mix of snow/freezing rain was coming down and it was downright scary. But Larry's a great winter driver and we arrived back at the motel safely.

We have this weakness of Hampton Inns--nothing fancy, but a little out of our daily price range. We love the comfy beds and the clean newness, the jacuzzis and fitness centers and the pot of oatmeal served at breakfast. They were super nice at the Indianapolis airport Hampton Inn. Of course, people in the Midwest are generally just plain nice.

We had a pretty good trip to Milwaukee the next day. We had ideas about going to downtown Milwaukee on Saturday. We planned to go to Discovery World to see a presentation on the science of the marshmallow for Sweetie Pie research, but it was sold out. We ended up staying close to the motel, went to see a matinee (I saw "her" and Larry saw "Lone Survivor") and watched another movie on our laptop in the evening, Jeff Daniels' "Answer Man."

The next day, Sunday, the weather and roads were better and clear, and we made the drive to our temporary home (until April 1st), Clam Lake, Wisconsin. We spent the evening with the wonderful couple we are housesitting for, Lea and Jerry, started getting their three sweet cats used to us, and had an amazing home-cooked meal that Lea labored over, which included pork tenderloin, the most delicious portobello mushrooms I've ever had, green beans, and hearts of palm salad. Yum. We are settling in for the next two and a half months. I will write once a week or so about our experiences on Clam Lake and in the closest towns, Cable and Hayward (17 miles and 35 miles away, respectively). Thanks for reading.

View of Clam Lake out our bedroom window

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