Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer vacations

I'm not taking any classes right now (but I am crashing some general chemistry lectures, in an attempt to brush up on the stuff before I take organic chemistry in the fall). Also, I'm not working (but reading a general chemistry textbook cover to cover definitely feels like work). Scott is minimally employed. Hence, we have time for fun stuff!

DC Adventures (Friday, 8/8 - Thursday 8/14)
First and foremost, I got to visit so many wonderful people - my aunt and uncle, my frisbee communities, my Delafield friends, even my Bohemian Caverns Belgian beer aficionado friends.

Second, I got to visit a bunch of Smithsonian art museums. My favorite was the Martin Puryear show at the National Gallery, followed closely by a Jim Henson exhibit. (Did you know the original Kermit was sewn from Henson's mother's worn-out spring coat?) Actually, I think the recently opened Renwick gallery for American crafts ties for first - small, but extremely well-curated. I forgot how much I enjoy seeing art.

Third, I got to eat some of my favorite foods: pizza from Coppi's, gueuze (a very sour Belgian beer) at Brasserie Beck (where there are nine gueuzes on the menu!), hummus from the Greek Deli downtown (which I consumed in the beautiful little "secret garden" just south of Dupont Circle), and hot, crunchy, delicious falafel sandwich from Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan.

All in all, an extremely satisfying vacation.

Chico Tournament aka Best Tournament Ever (Saturday, 8/16 - Sunday, 8/17)
I got home from DC late on Thursday night, did laundry on Friday, and then left for Chico at 5am Saturday morning. Our first game was at 8am. Fortunately, our team was caffeinated and sufficiently warmed-up, and we ended up winning all four games!

We finished early afternoon and ate lunch at the Sierra Nevada brewery. Then we went swimming at Bear Hole - a gorgeous stream running through a mini-gorge, with lots of opportunities for exploring, jumping off high rocks, and napping in the sun.

As if we hadn't had enough fun so far, we proceeded to a teammate's aunt's house - a 14,000 square foot, took six years to build, custom-built house overlooking a canyon. She and her husband fed us pizza and beer and stuffed zucchini and salad and fresh strawberry pie. We explored the house, relaxed on one of several balconies while the sky faded to black, and watched Olympics.

We won our first two games on Sunday and then lost in the finals - disappointing, but it's hard to feel bad when your team has already won six games in a row. We stretched, drank beer and generally wound-down on the fields for a bit before heading home.

Fun in Sacramento! (Saturday, 8/23 - Sunday, 8/24)
We checked out the California State Fair on Saturday. I got to see goats, earless goats, pygmy goats, horses, cows, seals, chickens, chinchillas, guinea pigs, kittens, bats and hatching quails. We saw a fish taco cooking demonstration, Chinese acrobats and some pretty neat art and crafts. The food options didn't hold a candle to the MN State Fair, and I was generally disappointed by the scale of things. You'd think a state as big as this would have a giant state fair, but Minnesota's really does take the cake. High quality food (even though it's all served on a stick), tons of beautiful quilts, more extensive displays. Still, it was a fun day at the fair.

We headed back to Sac on Sunday. Our first stop was the farmers market, which (as reported) is much bigger and less frou-frou than Davis's. We loaded up on tomatoes, basil, peaches and figs. Our car smelled wonderful. Second stop was the Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, where we spent about two hours learning about John Sutter and his (mis)adventures in the Central Valley. Lots of interesting artifacts and audio commentary - definitely a place worth visiting, especially if you don't know as much as you should about your state's history.

Live in Reno! (Wednesday, 8/27)
Last night, Scott and our friend Sharon and I drove over to Reno for an outdoor Neko Case concert. We had a nice drive through the Sierras and dinner at a funky vegetarian diner (the Pneumatic Diner, highly recommended, if you're ever in the area) before arriving at the amphitheater. It's a small venue, and we had great seats. The show was short, but high quality. An excellent mini-adventure.

Escaping the Heat in San Francisco (Thursday, 8/28 - Sunday, 8/31)
It's supposed to hit 104°F here today, so I'm happy to have an excuse to evacuate to San Francisco. Mavis and Maya are having a presidential candidate party - we get to watch Obama give his acceptance speech, and we get to dress up as our favorite presidential candidate (past, present, future or imaginary). I think I'll go as MacGyver.

We'll spend the night there, and go see a Frida Kahlo show at the SF MOMA in the morning. Not sure what's in store for the rest of Friday, but I'm sure we can find something fun to do!

We'll spend another night there, and then head to a tournament at Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning. Scott still can't play - his hamstring pulls are better, but now he's recovering from a calf pull. Poor guy.

Culinary Adventures Wrap-Up (Ongoing)
Scott and I paid a visit to the UCD Meat Lab (a USDA-certified processing plant on campus, where students learn about meat processing) and bought some extremely fresh brats and chorizo sausages. We hosted a little barbecue in order to eat them. We grilled a bunch of veggies as well. Scott's talent as a master marinator is becoming apparent - he has a gift for throwing together fantastic marinades.

Peach cobbler
Pizza with fresh tomatoes and homemade ricotta
Fresh figs and goat cheese on toast
Stir-fried yam leaves - sweet and very tasty!

That's all for now. My computer is running out of battery power, it's almost noon and I'm still in my pajamas, and I have nothing more to say. Be well!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy birthday, Julia!

Since it's Julia Child's birthday today (and because I'm feeling very happy to be home again), I'm making a nice dinner tonight. Here's the plan:

Peach & blue cheese bruscetta

Rosemary Rack of Lamb with Balsamic-Raisin Reduction (recipe)
Spinach salad

Peach (and brandy) Galette

It's going to be tasty!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

At the zoo this morning!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ogunquit, Boston, DC

Just a quick update on my East Coast adventures...

We were in Maine until Wednesday evening. This was my third time attending the reunion, but the first time we've had a chance to stay more than a few days. It was wonderful to have such an uncompressed schedule - no sense of urgency that you have to cram in all the fun stuff into two days (lobster dinner, trips to the beach, runs on the beach, long walks on the beach, walks along the Marginal Way to get coffee or saltwater taffy, etc.). It was great to spend so much time with the family.

On Wednesday night, Scott's dad dropped us off in Boston, so we could have dinner with Gabi - one of his high school friends. We spent Thursday morning at Wellesley - just wandering through the buildings and the grounds. Scott was very patient with my reminiscences and nostalgia. We had lunch with my friend Robin and dinner with Nate and Jess and various members of their family. An excellent day.

We were kindly delivered to the airport on Friday morning, and Scott headed west, and I headed south. I arrived in DC just in time for happy hour at Cafe Asia with some of my old teammates. I eventually retired to Aaron's, where we watched the opening ceremonies in Beijing until midnight.

I'm out at my aunt and uncle's today. The weather is absolutely gorgeous - not too hot, and not humid. The three of us picked peaches off the tree in their backyard, and then my aunt and I went and picked blackberries at a local farm - we came home with about 11 pounds of berries and made a very tasty peach and blackberry cobbler, which we ate out on the deck after dinner. Life is good.

(Poor Scott didn't get home until 12:30 am PT, which is 3:30 ET, to an empty, grocery-less house. He told me he got good heirloom tomatos at the farmers market this morning, though, and they always cheer us up.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

All's well.

Just a quick note to say that I am very thoroughly enjoying Maine. It's been a little bit cloudy and rainy, but that hasn't dampened anyone's spirits. It's great to be here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

1630h - Board bus to the airport. Receive call from JetBlue that they have to rebook me. Big props to JB for calling me and rebooking things before I even arrived at the airport!

1730h - Fail to get off the bus at the airport. (I rang the stop bell 5 seconds too late, and bus driver told me she'd lose her job if she stopped anywhere unofficial.) Ride all the way into Sacramento and back out again.

1830h - Arrive at airport, attempt to check in. Since my new flight won't leave until midnight, I can't check my bags til 8pm. Sit and wait in the baggage claim area. One New Yorker down, 97 to go! (Great article on the Chinese pianist Lang Lang.)

2000h - Check in! Breeze through security! (I was the only one in line.)

2030h - Chat with the best custodian ever in the ladies' room. She had enough flair to work at TGIFriday's, plus a curly blonde wig and tons of glittery makeup on her face. When I complimented her on the big pink flower in her hair, she told me where I could find one of my own - over at Gate B1, where they tape flower to the pens to keep people from walking off with them. (She didn't steal the flower though, they'd given it to her.) I'm seriously considering going to ask for one - it's pretty fantastic.

Just a few more hours of waiting until I can board the flight and try to fall asleep. Less than 12 hours until I see Scott! The delay is annoying, but I'm happy with JetBlue's customer service, happy that my detour into Sacramento didn't make me miss my originally scheduled flight, happy about the glittery custodian, and happy that this airport has fast, free wifi. Just think how much happier I'll be when I'm in Maine, with my betrothed and my family-to-be!
0330h - Noisy neighbors wake me up. Noisy trains and an unquiet mind keep me awake.
0400h - I roll out of bed and have the second half of last night's burrito for breakfast while studying for my bio final exam.
0630h - Starting to feel sleepy, I head back to bed!
0700h - A phone call wakes me up. A wrong number.
0730h - Caffeinating and cramming at Mishka's.

Coming up...
1100h - Two-hour exam!
1300h - Pack
1630h - Catch the bus to the airport
1900h - Up, up and away! I'm fairly confident I'll be able to sleep on tonight's "red-eye."