Category Archives: traveling

On Stolen Time

I’m in a bit of a crunch time at work with nearly every minute planned out, so I’m stealing a few minutes to post on this here neglected blog.

Yesterday was a big event at work, and then we have a conference that starts Sunday night. So…I’ll be clocking around 8 hours on Sunday, 14 hours on Monday, and 10 on Tuesday. Then I have a test Wednesday night. And then, then! I leave for Minneapolis on Thursday for a good five days! Hurrah!

Last weekend was my dad’s birthday, so I went down for a visit. The big difference for this trip was that I flew! Yes, there is now a flight between St. Louis and my parents’ town in northeast Arkansas. February is the first month of service, and round-trip tickets are promotionally priced at $50. Sweet!

Little plane!

The plane, as you can see, was small. Teeny. Seats for 8, and don’t even think about a bathroom or beverage service. Pictured above is the plane I rode in on the way down. It was once the private plane of the governor of Maine (hey, that rhymes), and had big, comfy leather seats that swiveled around and laid all the way back. It was rather luxurious.

One nice thing about the teeny planes is that they cruise at such a low altitude, you have plenty to look at during the flight. Stuff like…farmland.

Farmland all around

There was more farmland, but I only took one picture during the flight.

When leaving Jonesboro, I remarked to my parents that there were no security measures at all. Not even a wand. While glad to take my full water bottle on board, I couldn’t believe it. Upon arriving in St. Louis, we found out that any passengers with connecting flights had to go through security there because Jonesboro doesn’t have any TSA stuff going on. Just think of all the stuff I could have smuggled aboard had I only known!

Shoes

On Tuesday, I bought a new pair of shoes. This is rather monumental for me.

What is especially notable is that these shoes are shiny metallic and have a stylized bow on them. Apparently, this is the sort of shoe I wear now:

These shoes are prettier when not on my office carpet.

I’m also in love with a pair of bright yellow pants at Target, but they’re a tad too tight for comfort. These are surprising changes in the clothing front.

Journaling

For the past couple of weeks upon awaking, I’ve been writing a list of 10 things for which I’m grateful. Actually, I write down things that make me sad and angry too. The point is that writing them down is supposed to move you towards acceptance. I like this practice, but since I always spend some time free-writing afterwards, I either need to get up earlier or move it to the night.

I used to keep extensive, detailed journals, but I stopped quite some time ago. It’s been good, yet uncomfortable at times, to start again.

I’ve also been rereading parts of some old journals, and I’ve been quite struck at some of the keen insights I had way back then.

Journaling: it’s a good thing to do.

Triple M Tour Complete!

For the past year or so, I’ve been wanting to do a MMM tour – Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis, that is. My vision came to fruition this past weekend, although in an abbreviated fashion.

Friday afternoon, I flew to Milwaukee, picked up a rental car, and drove to my friend Darcie’s flat. Darcie puts together a lovely home, and I didn’t want to leave once I arrived.

But left we did for Stack’d, where we dined on burgers and delicious fries. After that, we strolled around the Third Ward, and eventually had dessert at Coquette Café. It was Oeufs a la Neige and a rich cream sherry for me, and pistachio and caramel tart with a bourbon for Darcie. Both desserts were delicious.

Saturday morning came too soon, but brought a delightful breakfast of scrambled eggs with goat cheese, oven-roasted potatoes, and sautéed kale. No, we weren’t at a fancy breakfast joint; we were in Darcie’s kitchen!

After checking out an estate sale at a hotel belonging to a notorious Milwaukee crime family and a vegan bake sale (these were separate events), we procured snacks for my upcoming drive to Minneapolis. Yes, Saturday afternoon I trekked across the state and into Minnesota!

It was a long but lovely drive that found me at Katie’s apartment. Yes, I am sad to report that our dear friends Katie and Beth are now Katie. And Beth.

Katie and I caught up during a late dinner at Everest, followed by dessert at Lucia’s. The juxtaposition of daal and asparagus curry with a chocolate custard was kind of odd, but all were tasty.

Sunday morning was breakfast to go from Colossal eaten at Beth’s house. Afterward, Beth and I went on a nature sampler tour of Minneapolis.

We started by touring Lake Calhoun, and then proceeded to an interpretive center near the Mississippi River. A trail from the center led us to a blue heron rookery.

Blue heron nests!

The dark spots atop the trees are nests. If you click the photo, you might be able to see a heron standing guard by some of the nests.

After the rookery, we hit Minnehaha Falls, which is a city park. Here’s a bad photo of it and me:

Lovely waterfall in the city.

At the park we had fish tacos and ice cream and talked about lots of things. When you haven’t seen someone in a year and a half, you have a lot to catch up on.

Later, we ate again at Lake Bryant Bowl, and then it was to bed so that I could get up early and haul myself back to Milwaukee.

Despite the various road construction projects, I made it to Madison early enough to have lunch with another old friend, Carmen! We dined at the Willy Street Coop, which was perfect. Delicious salad bar, and no waiting for a check. My departure time came much too early, as my flight was scheduled for 4:30.

Despite more construction, having to search for a gas station, and the slowest security line ever, I made it to my gate for boarding and had time to pick up an airport souvenir for Porkchop (who doesn’t need a Green Bay Packers can cozy?).

I look forward to another MMM tour, only I hope to stay in each place for a couple days apiece!

Also, while driving across Wisconsin, I affirmed my realization to move back to Wisconsin. Not this year, not next year, and maybe not the three years after that, but someday! What can I say? I love the lakes, the weather, the trees, and the people.

Also

My family’s visit at the beginning of the month went incredibly well, much better than predicted! I also earned As in my classes, and I’m trying to be more positive at work.

I will leave you with a picture of Keetah. While cleaning up one day, Porkchop left a trashbag on the floor and Keetah claimed it as her new home. It’s kind of sad when your cat loves a trashbag. Sad and weird.

Saddest catbed ever.

To Infinity and Beyond

Happy 10 years and 1 week to Porkchop and me!

Porkchop is my best friend, my biggest supporter, and the greatest person in the universe. Each day, I consider myself lucky to be her partner and enjoy this life with her.

Last week, on the 10-year-day proper, we took a day off from our respective works and did fun things. For example, lunching on blue plate specials of fried halibut, hush puppies, and red beans and rice from Farmhaus; having our minds blown by the beautiful yarn at the Loopy Ewe; and watching a movie (Secretariat, which I found surprisingly enjoyable). Fun continued through the weekend with the farmers’ market, a 24-mile bike ride to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, the Blues home opener, and a game of tennis on a perfect Sunday morning.

Way back in September, we took a trip to Albuquerque that was part-work, part-fun, and part-anniversary trip. The fun anniversary leg was to Ojo Caliente, a spa in the middle of nowhere in northern New Mexico. It is seriously isolated and spectacular.

Look at that vivid blue sky…the sky here is never so blue.

Ojo Caliente registration and gift shop. Also gateway to the hot springs.

We couldn’t take pictures of the hot springs because something about guest privacy and blah blah blah, but they were lovely. My favorites were the arsenic pool and the iron pool. The iron pool because it was built right into the cliff side, and the arsenic pool because the water was 109 degrees and made me feel like warm butter.

We had two nights at the springs and spent them soaking under a star-filled sky.

Wonderful.

When we go back (and there will be another trip at some point, I hope), I want to spend a full day at the spa so that I can enjoy the mud pool longer. We took a day trip into Taos for lunch and sightseeing, and had only 20 minutes for the mud pool, which isn’t nearly long enough.

On our way to Taos, we crossed over the Rio Grande on the fifth-highest bridge in the US:

Rio Grande. In person, this looks even deeper.

Amanda and me. Not against the railing. That would be too close to the edge.

At Ojo Caliente, we stayed in the “historic hotel” part of the resort:

Outside the restaurant and historic hotel. Built around 1916.

The hotel rooms are the cheapest because they don’t have showers, which isn’t a problem because you can use the bathhouse showers. However, when we go back, I want to stay in one of the cliffside suites with a private outdoor pool and a kiva.

Anyway, I totally recommend a trip out to Ojo Caliente. Soak up the minerals and enjoy the stars.

What Else I’m Doing

Over the summer, I started thinking a lot about the rest of my life. Big thinking.

Somewhere, I ran across this quote by Annie Dillard:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

And I started thinking, there is no way in hell I want to spend the rest of my life working at a computer.

So, then I started thinking about how I’ve always been interested in physical therapy, but scared to pick up the prerequisites and scared to commit to an intense 3-year program. The fear came from things like: What about the student debt I’ll pick up? How will we pay our mortgage and bills if I’m not working?

Just for fun, I looked at the prereq lists of a few PT programs and found that I needed to pick up only 5 classes. And then I looked some more and found that I could take most of the classes for free through my university’s evening program!

So, here I am taking Anatomy & Physiology and studying my ass off. SO MUCH INFORMATION! I’m in A&P on Mondays from 4:45 – 9:30 pm (lab and lecture), and then on Thursdays from 4:45 – 6:45 pm (lab). Sometimes I go to the Wednesday lab to finish things and study more. On Monday nights, my head is usually so full of stuff, I can’t get to sleep until 1 am.

I wake up and have phrases like non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium bouncing around.

I have two quizzes every Monday. And the big test weeks are hard. We have a lab take-home exam, a lab practical exam, and a lecture exam. It’s nuts.

It’s a lot of work and overwhelming at times, but I’m really loving it. It goes back to my roots in physical anthropology, which is what I studied as an undergrad (I picked up feminist studies during my senior year). Currently we’re studying the skeleton and bone histology, and I feel so fortunate that I learned a lot of it as an undergrad. Still, it’s hard. We have to know so much more in lab than I did in my anthro classes.

For real, I am following through on this PT thing. GRE over winter break. A&P II in the spring, along with Abnormal Psych at the community college. Medical terminology over the summer. Physics I and II next year. Before summer 2011, 100 volunteer/observation hours in PT clinics.

It’s my goal to apply to programs over the summer and be admitted somewhere for Fall 2012. We’ll figure out the student loan and mortgage stuff when the time comes.

It’s time to start doing something that I really want to do!

Fun Times Up North

Last weekend we headed up to Madison to visit old pals.

Our friend Kathy, currently a resident of Peru, was in the country and having a solo show in Rockford, Illinois. We wouldn’t miss Kathy and the opening for anything! Our friend Sabrina also flew in from Dallas for the show, so it was quite a reunion.

This is my favorite print from Kathy’s show:

Favorite!

Everything was beautiful, of course. You can view (and buy!) more work on Kathy’s website.

That night, someone might or might not have been killed in our hotel. Seriously. Some weird shit went down at the Radisson after a wedding reception held there.

Even with all of the commotion, we woke up bright and early to head out for Madison and the farmers’ market. I was super excited, but then I realized I’m kind of over the downtown market. It’s fun every once in a while, but the crowd is a killer.

Carried along with the crowd at the farmers' market.

After the market, we met up with friend and former co-worker Darcie for lunch at Lao Laan Xang. It is a shame I don’t have a picture to document the lunch! It was delicious, and I was happy to catch up with Darcie. I was also happy to receive a jar of brandied cherries. Yum! I can’t wait to crack open the jar.

Saturday afternoon was spent hanging out at Patrick’s apartment (sans Patrick, however) and walking around on State Street. I commented to Porkchop that the crowd on State Street was not the Madison crowd I remember. Then I realized that it was Labor Day, the first weekend of university, and Taste of Madison. Perhaps Madison has not truly been overtaken by douchy people.

The evening was spent at Tracy and Mark’s house. Tracy runs a letterpress shop at the UW, and Mark is a physicist. They are everything I aspire to be when I’m in my 50s: confident, intelligent, witty, kind, and owners of an amazing mid-century modern house.

For an appetizer, Sabrina made us pancetta nests which we topped with goat cheese and pear slices. Delicious!

Sabrina during a contemplative moment.

The main courses included sliders, potato-pesto-green-bean salad, and deviled eggs. Dessert was a fig tart with caramelized sugar. Yum!

Kathy O is low on wine.

Sunday was another super pleasant day, which started with brunch at Graze with Carmen. While Porkchop drove, Carmen and I rode her little racing bikes. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve ridden bikes on which I sit up higher and straighter than one does on racing bikes. SO, it was really wild to ride a racing bike from the early 1980s!!

In addition to maintaining a different posture, I had to adjust my balance. I nearly fell off many times! ALSO, the bikes were made special for shorter women, and the front tire is quite a bit smaller than the back tire.

I seriously thought I was going to eat the pavement during the ride! I kept yelling to Carmen: THIS IS SO DIFFERENT. OH MY GOSH! THIS IS SO DIFFERENT! AAAAAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!

On the way back from the restaurant, I totally cut off some SUVs and did other bad bike etiquette stuff because I felt so out of control on the bike.

All in all, it was really fun – the highlight of the trip, really.

These bikes look cute, but they're scary as heck to ride.

Visiting with Carmen, who we hadn’t seen in over two years, was also really great. But those bikes…

The rest of the trip was filled with art business and having Monday brunch with one of Porkchop’s former hockey teammates.

Next Trip

We leave tomorrow morning for Albuquerque. Yay, New Mexico! I’m looking forward to more tasty food and fun times!

Have a great weekend!