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The Wormhole

on January 14, 2015 with 1 Comment
in Traveling

During the fall I found myself in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore doing a little free magazine reading when I came across an article that purported to list the top fifteen coffee shops in the US.  Two of the shops they profiled were in Chicago, and since I go there four times a year, I put their names in my phone to check out on my next trip North.

My early December cab ride from Midway Airport to The Wormhole Coffee Shop on Milwaukee Avenue was long enough for me to get to know my Nigerian cab driver to the degree I felt morally obligated to leave him a big tip.  The national headlines that day were about a seven hour power failure the city of Detroit had experienced the previous day and from where my driver had come from he said there would be cause for headlines if the power stayed on for seven hours straight.  Once again I was reminded I am never thankful enough for the world I live in.

A quick jog across Milwaukee Avenue with my travel bag on my shoulder though mid 30”s temperatures and I was on the threshold of my first wormhole.  Entering The Wormhole transported me to the 80’s with a life sized replica of a Back to the Future modified De Loren and Star Wars memorabilia adorning the walls.  While the shop was comfortably crowded with patrons cradling iPads, I was able to find a seat at the bar where I was served by Andreas, pictured below, pouring my coffee.

Andreas started my cup of coffee by carefully weighing out 25.5 grams of freshly ground coffee.  Next he pre warmed the coffee equipment by pouring hot water in over a coffee filter suspended above a glass beaker in a Vee 60 device, shown below.  After properly warming up the coffee maker and my empty coffee mug with hot water Andreas took a measured pot of water off an induction heater precisely set at 209 degrees, and using a stop watch timer, poured the water over the coffee grounds for exactly two an a half minutes.  Before serving me my cup of coffee, Andreas poured a small sample for himself and tasted my coffee to ensure it was up to par.

I honestly can’t remember how much I paid for the coffee because the quality of the taste and the experience caused the price to not register.  I do recall it was close enough to Starbuckian prices that the dark roasters from Seattle can’t compete with what Wormhole patrons are drinking.  The Wormhole’s coffees are much lighter roasted than many popular coffees I am used to but their flavors seemed more complex and fuller.

It was interesting to discover that neither Andreas or the other employees were aware of the article that had identified them as a top fifteen coffee shop.  These guys are coffee nerds, with their heads too deep in their cups to be into self promotion.  Wormhole coffee has come a long way since coffee was first sipped at Sufi shrines in the 15th century.

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Fueled by a nice caffeine buzz I left The Wormhole and not being able to to delay gratification, I decided to walk to the second Chicago coffee shop on the top 15 list, Little Goat Diner. Google maps said was only four urban miles away and most of those miles were in the direction of my downtown hotel.  I got a nice view of the Chicago skyline as I walked.

At this point in my journey I decided to ignore Siri’s guidance and head South through a neighborhood in an imagined “shortcut.”

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After passing the Bethel Jerusalem Apostolic Church twice it was time to rebuild my relationship with Siri and find my way out of the neighbor hood.

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Urban hiking is much more interesting than riding in a car.  I would have never noticed this wood sculpture from a grimy cab window.

What was the artist thinking when they constructed this design?  Was it done just to camouflage a weather worn wall, could it have been the construction dumpster was full and there was no place for this stuff to go or were there higher goals in mind?  I like to contemplate street art.

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Walking also exposes the underbelly of a city’s infrastructure.  Rust and stalactites didn’t give me a lot of confidence walking under this bridge.  I hope some municipal worker’s responsibility is to keep an eye on this oxidation.

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With my neck bent from being yoked to my carry on bag and my shoulders aching, I arrived at Little Goat Diner on Randolph Street.  The Goat is a sophisticated urban diner filled with suits and stilettoed patrons eating a two o’clock business lunch.  This joint has it all, a dark coffee bar, a bakery and a bright open dining area where my bag joined me for lunch in the facing chair of a table for two.

I had a Los Drowned sandwich(twist on a French dip), which was very tasty, and a cup of their coffee.  To make sure my furnace was fully stoked for the walk to my motel I topped the sandwich off with a piece of caramel pie, as recommended by my attentive server.  While the pie was excellent, I had to leave some of it on the plate due to it’s generous size and the fact that I had just wolfed down a large sadwich.

The Little Goat Diner turned out to be many things, all of them good, but in my opinion it was not a coffee shop even though they serve excellent coffee.  Proving once again that top ten, top fifteen, top one hundred lists are not to be completely trusted.

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Fortunately I didn’t have to dodge any falling ice on my walk to the hotel as I was not very quick on my feet in this final stage of my Chicago odyssey.  The two miles left to the hotel clipped by pretty quickly, where I then laid down for a long winter’s nap.

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“Working Kitchen”

on December 8, 2014 with 2 Comments
in The Cabin

When we began our house remodel last year, we talked to Neal our building inspector about what we needed to have completed to get an occupancy permit.  He told us all we had to have was a working kitchen and working bathroom.  Susan, suspecting it might be a long time before I had the cabin completely finished […]

Work Camp

on November 25, 2014 with 2 Comments
in The Cabin

For the third time now since we’ve torn down our cabin and started rebuilding it, friends Scott and Suzanne have called to say they are coming up for work camp.  When get a phone call from Scott it usually goes like this: “Hey Lloyd, we’ve got the weekend of the 27th open and want to come […]

Cabin Porch Railing

on November 9, 2014 with 7 Comments
in The Cabin

Back during the summer I was having an end of day staff meeting with my friend and electrician Tim Donovan.  As we sipped our micro brews and discussed events of the day, the words of our friendly county building inspector were weighing heavy on my mind.  To get an occupancy permit I needed to have […]

Chain Saw Windows

on November 5, 2014 with 7 Comments
in The Cabin

If you live in a log cabin and want to let more light in, just crank up the chain saw.  There are no worries about where the wall studs are or the need for headers, just start cutting.  Susan caught this view of my chain saw artistry as I was cutting holes for a pair […]

What’s in That Barn?

on September 9, 2014 with 7 Comments
in The Cabin

I’ll bet I’ve passed this barn a thousand times and never pondered the question “what’s in it?”  The barn is located just three tenths of a mile from our cabin and years ago was used as stables for Wolf Laurel.  As I have come to find out in recent weeks, since the stables closed the […]

All I Do is Copy Other’s Work

on June 13, 2014 with 5 Comments
in The Cabin

If you’re a writer and copy other’s work you are called a plagiarist, lose your job and have all kinds of nasty things said about you.  However, if you are a woodworker replicating other’s work, you are called a craftsman.  Good thing I chose the path of woodworking and not journalism because I look for woodworking […]

Getting Back in Fighting Shape

on May 15, 2014 with No Comments
in The Cabin

After a sedentary winter, the first few weeks at the cabin are always physically challenging.  We arrived on April 25th and have been running hard since.  Susan and I have been the building project’s clean up crew, so when we left in late fall and the contractor continued to work through January, we found mountains […]

Reflections on Owen’s Life

on April 30, 2014 with 6 Comments
in Family Stories

  “Owen Thomas Parker went to be with Jesus on April 7, 2014.  Born to Brian and Allison Parker of Lawrenceville, GA on February 23, 2014, Owen lived his short life in Egleston Children’s Hospital, Atlanta where he was being treated for a congenital heart defect known as Shone’s Complex. While on this earth just […]

Owen

on March 12, 2014 with 8 Comments
in Family Stories

Grandson Owen was born on February 23rd around 6:00 PM to our son Brian and his wife Allison. Owen’s eight pound seven ounce birth weight, twenty-one inch length and beautiful face gave all the appearance of a healthy baby. However, within hours the parents were told by a doctor they could hear a heart murmur […]