Saturday, September 29, 2007

DC week nearing its end

I'll admit that I wasn't completely excited about my trip to DC before I came out. A week spent working long hours (away from Scott) didn't seem too appealing. But it's turned out to be pretty wonderful. I arrived last Saturday and spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle. I hadn't had a chance to say good-bye to them before I left in August, so it was good to spend some time with them during this trip. I got to practice with Pi on Sunday afternoon, crashed at Jess's house Sunday night, and got to work nice and early on Monday morning.

It's pretty amazing how much more productive it is to work face-to-face with someone than from a place three time zones away. Damon and I can do good work together from our respective coasts, but it's just not the same as being able to walk into his office to figure something out, ask a question, and make decisions. I haven't even left the city, and I'm already planning my next trip out here, for the end of October (when our project launches).

I've had time for a little bit of fun. On Tuesday, I had dinner at Pizza Paradiso with Paul P., Paul G., Jay and Christina. On Wednesday, I got to practice with Pi again. On Thursday, Damon and I took a break for a nice gnocchi dinner. This weekend is I'm playing in Regionals with Pi. It feels a little strange to be stepping away from work when there's so much to do, but it's great to be able to play with this team one last time. And I'll head back to the office on Sunday afternoon anyways.

Off to bed. Looking forward to a solid night's sleep after four games and a big, beautiful Mexican dinner (accompanied by a mango margarita).

Teammates at pancho villa. Very good margaritas.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Point Reyes

We took advantage of one of Scott's last free weekends and took a nice little day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, which is just a few hours west of us and a little bit north of San Francisco. We hiked along two different sections of the coast, and it was wonderful. Here are some photos.

Spot the elk!

The obligatory self portrait.

Thank you Mark Bittman!

We've had a very active kitchen these past few days. It's the result of lots of good food (farmers market), good food going bad (I'm still shopping in group-house quantities) and a terrific cookbook we just bought (Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything).

On Saturday, we broke in our new cast iron dutch oven with the lamb shank we picked up at the farmers market. We stewed it with tomatoes, onions and olives. (Mark Bittman recipe #1.)

On Sunday, we used the bones to make stock. (Bittman recipe #2.)

Monday night, we had baked ratatoille, since the eggplant was on its last legs. (Bittman recipe #3.)
After dinner, I made bread dough using a very easy, no-knead recipe. (From a Bittman NYT article.)

Tuesday night, I baked the bread but had dinner at a Graduate Students Associate barbecue with Scott... no Bittman.

Tonight, we used the lamb stock and the fresh bread to make French onion soup. (Bittman #5.) Since the carrots were starting to go, we made curried bulgar with carrots and raisins. (Bittman #6.) We tripled the number of carrots it called for but still had a significant volume on our hands, so we threw them in the food processor along with some tahini and a can of pinto beans (which I accidentally opened instead of chickpeas) and some other stuff and made an impromptu carrot-pinto hummus. And we had half a watermelon left over, so we made a batch of really yummy watermelon soup. (Last time we made it with watermelon an cantaloupe, which is even better.)

Not sure what's next on the menu. We made enough food tonight to last us a week, and I'll be out of town next week, but I'm certainly looking forward to more culinary adventures in the months ahead. As much as we enjoy improvisational cooking, we have a lot to learn, and Mr. Bittman is teaching us quite a bit. (Many thanks to my mother, of course, who taught me everything I know so far!)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bikes, trains and automobiles

Really, this post should be Planes, Trains and Automobiles in hommage to Fred's favorite childhood picture book, but bikes are a much greater factor in my life these days...

A lot of cities are bike-friendly enough to qualify for the bronze level of the League of American Bicyclists. Fewer reach the silver level, and only a handful get the gold.

Davis, however, needed a category all its own.

Named the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States on Wednesday, Davis is the first and only member of the platinum level.

Davis is recognized for its more than 100 miles of streets with bike lanes, trails and other bicycle routes, thousands of bicycle parking spaces and 25 grade-separated intersections keeping bicycle and motor vehicle traffic apart.

From C.I.C.L.E.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Davis's motto is "The Most Bicycle Friendly Town in the World." It's really pretty amazing. But... I still sort of miss the bike culture of DC, where things are just a little less civilized and faster-paced. Biking is incredibly safe here, and cars, bikes and pedestrians all have their own places and everyone follows the rules, and the police really will fine you $100+ for not coming to a complete stop (one foot on the ground) at a stop sign, or not using a light at night. In DC, traffic signals play more of an advisory role - you can choose to ignore them at your own risk, and usually get around just fine. Biking here is resigning to a slower, more civilized pace of transportation. It's good for me (and for everyone around me), but I'm struggling to leave my impatience behind and enjoy the journey for what it is.

One delightful thing I discovered this morning is a bike path rotary. We discovered a new little shortcut from our house to downtown, and it includes a rotary for cyclists. Scott says there are even bigger ones on campus. It's really fantastic.


Our apartment is about 100 yards from the train tracks, so the sounds of trains have become a constant in our lives. If you look out through the kitchen windows, through the olive trees, you can see an Amtrak commuter trains or a nice big freight train rumbling past. The freight trains are the noisiest and usually remind me of the scene in The Blues Brothers when Jake and Elwood are in Elwood's apartment by the El tracks, and they can't hold a conversation and the whole place rattles.

Our trains sometimes pause conversation, but so far they haven't rattled anything. We'll have to wait for an earthquake to do that, I think. Our bedroom and office are on the opposite side of the apartment, but the noise still echoes off the surrounding units for us to hear. It's easy to get used to, and I kind of like the sound of train whistles. They remind me of the ships and the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth.


Our little Saab (aka the Panzer) is incredible. It can hold anything. On Friday, we brought a fully constructed futon home in it. We had to tie down the hatch, since it couldn't close all the way, but boy can it hold stuff. The A/C is still broken, but afternoon temperatures are coming down, so we probably won't need it much until next summer. On my list of things to do today: add an Ultimate Players Organization bumper sticker. It's already got Fred's and Margo's stickers, so now it's our turn to brand it. I found a nice round red one that says "Play Ultimate" and has an image of a layout d. I've also got one from a long-ago Wellesley fundraiser that reads "Ultimate: Because everyone could use a good huck." Not sure which one to pick, so I might have to apply both...

Also, I got fitted for a contact yesterday (yep, just my right eye needs it), and my cute Calvin Klein tortoiseshell glasses will be arriving soon, so my ability to read street signs will soon be much improved!!

Farmers Market Sunflowers

Scott and I visited the Farmers Market this morning, and it was even better than the Wednesday night market. We bought:
Yellow raspberries (?)
Yellow chard
Shank of lamb
Breakfast sausage
Sunflowers (pictured above)

And there was oh-so-much-more that we wanted to buy but wouldn't be able to eat...

On the south end of the market, there was a folk band. On the north end, a brass jazz band. In the middle, a violinist. Next week, I want to go and have a picnic breakfast on the lawn and listen to the music. This week, we had already had a breakfast: scrambled eggs with produce from Wednesday's trip to the market - okra, peppers and tomatoes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Everest and DC

Had a really cool dream last night about climbing to the top of Mount Everest. In fact, the climb up was so easy, I slept through it. I just opened my eyes and realized that I had made it to the top. It was really beautiful. We took the short cut on the way down, which involved opening a door in the side of the mountain to reveal a nice wooden staircase and several rooms filled with people playing pingpong.

On a slightly less ridiculous note, I just bought tickets to go back to DC at the end of September. I'll be in town from the 22nd through the 1st, so if you're free and want to hang out, let me know! (Also, if I can crash at your house on Saturday night (the 22nd) that would be awesome.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Post game fashion

Pi teammates in chicago

Friday, September 07, 2007

Week 1 in California has been a success. All of our shipments arrived, and we’ve been filling in the gaps – stuff from Ikea, stuff from craigslist and, of course, Ikea stuff from craigslist. We went to the Davis Farmers Market on Wednesday night and bought some beautiful tomatoes and grapes. We went running through the arboretum on the trail by the creek. Still lots of things to do, such as:
  1. Unpack my various beauty supplies (makeup, hair stuff, lotiony soapy stuff, etc.). For someone who doesn’t dress up much, it’s embarrassing how much of that I have, filling up plastic bags sitting on the bathroom floor. Soon it wil be stowed away in neat little drawers, and I’ll mostly forget about it until the next time we move…
  2. Visit the Davis DMV to apply for a Califonia driver’s license, and to transfer the Saab title from Dad to me.
  3. Visit the optometrist. As we were driving home on Monday night, after picking up an Ikea bed from a craigslist seller, Scott and I were comparing how far away we could read highway signs. He could read them 11-12 seconds before we passed under the sign, but I only had 3-4 seconds. I had no idea my vision was that bad! I think some glasses would come in handy…
  4. Set up the home office. So far, I’ve been working from the dining room table, but our office (the second bedroom) is south-facing and has much nicer light. And it will be nice to have a work space separate from my living space. I’m still trying to adjust to working from home. All the moving-in chores are definitely distracting, but hopefully I’ll get into a groove in the next few weeks.

Right now, I’m on my way to Chicago for a tournament. Definitely looking forward to hanging out with Pi this weekend and running around a bunch! Maybe we’ll even win a game or two…

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Settling in

I arrived safe and sound in Sacramento, along with all of my awkward luggage, and was whisked away to my new home in Yolo County. It's wonderful to be here. It's been a busy few days of shopping trips (Target and Ikea), craigslist purchases (a "Jefferson chair" and a bed) and trying to keep up with work.

Things are in disarray - my clothes are mashed together in open suitcases on the floor, and our counter is covered with paperwork to do - but little by little, things are getting done. We registered to vote, and Scott opened a checking account. We've got internet, and next week I'll visit the DMV to transfer my license. It feels good to be here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

From the Denver airport

After being in a sort of limbo for much of August, I am finally en route to California. Our stuff has been shipped, and Scott successfully picked up the Amtrak load yesterday. I taxied to the airport this morning with a huge purple suitcase, my bike (taken apart and boxed up), a heavy down comforter (which didn’t fit in the suitcase, so it’s in a taped-up trash bag), my violin, and my messenger bag (with laptop, crossword puzzles and New Yorkers). An awkward assortment of luggage, that made me thankful for baggage carts and even more thankful that Scott will be waiting for me on the other end.

August was good. The time I spent with my family in Minnesota was wonderful, and I wish I lived closer to them. The week in Maine with the Electric Sheep Company was rejuvenating, and I returned to DC happy to get my hands dirty in work. The week in DC was productive work-wise and busy packing-wise. I got to spend time with some of my best friends there and had to say goodbye, but I’ve been impatient to get to Davis, and to Scott. I felt unsettled, so I’m happy to finally be on the move.