Thursday, January 27, 2011

And Now?

And what have I been doing in Vero Beach for almost two months you might ask?

Well, I've been calling it "reorganizing" by which I mean applying for jobs, researching grad programs in Counseling Psychology, Social Work and Marriage & Family Therapy and learning about topics I feel undereducated about (like personal finance, sailing and canning). I've also taken on some fun projects including fermenting many different foodstuffs and playing the violin.

I've been having a good time shaking up Vero Beach by cruising around town on my mom's bike (yes, it has a basket, and yes, I put my violin in it to get myself to lessons), and doing neighborly things like asking for a cup of sugar (wait - people actually do that these days?)

I've also been making waves with things like bike lights (I get a full lane clearance at night from the same motorists that crowd me into the gutter during the day - bike lanes? oh yeah, there's that one street...), being seemingly the only female between 17 and 45 (the attention I get is embarrassing - for Vero), and solo dance parties in my Grandma's furnitureless, rent-paying-resident-less condo (okay so that doesn't really shake up Vero Beach, but they're a lot of fun) - when I'm feeling fancy I even walk over to the ocean and dance on the beach under the moon.

Culinary Adventures:

At my mom's house (where I eat and perform culinary experiments), I have a "Projects Cupboard", which at various times contains some sort of fermenting thing including sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha (phase I & II) and sprouts.

(points for catching the Old-school TRiP Nalgene cameo)

Mmm, homegrown sprouts!

Of course, I've also been engaging in my favorite at-home passtime, cooking extravagant (definition: more than 4 adjectives in the description) dishes for friends and family.

Bacon-wrapped, Goat Cheese-stuffed Medjool Dates with Balsamic Drizzle

Spaghetti Squash in Brown Butter Sage with Nutmeg

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Chipotle Coffee Maple Sauce

Musical Adventures:

This is me playing "Yankee Doodle" Don't laugh, it's hard - for me.

Though I am thoroughly enjoying an awesome "How to Play Bluegrass Fiddle" DVD that was definitely first released on VHS in the late 80s/early 90s... great style.

Traveling Adventures:

I've also continued the trend of visiting friends from long ago. I saw JJ Grey & Mofro in Tampa with (trippie and former roommate) Raquel

went up to Atlanta for Peach's band (Jack of Hearts)'s show at the Earl (photo from local ephemera)

and stopped through Gainesville on my way to and from Atlanta to visit trippies. I stayed with Daniel Godwin and repeated last year's Boca Fiesta dinner with Kyle, Sully, Swanson, Jessie & Coop (and apparently failed to take any pictures). They reminded me of one reason I love trippies: they're always doing exciting things! (like going to Mali for the Peace Corps or taking care of bees at UF)

I even managed to track down Cuopli at UF's new, top-secret "East Campus" though I couldn't get him to tell me what it was really for.

Mud-related Adventures:

My last Florida Adventure for this round was the Warrior Dash: a 5-k race with obstacles (like mud pits, barbed wire to climb under and fire to jump over) where costumes are encouraged. In my "pre-race training" I realized there was no way I'd win any prizes for speed, but I found out there was a prize for most outrageous costume, so I went there.


...and after. I raced with some TRiP friends and we donned our warrior hats for a muddy post-race group shot

Next on the itinerary, Virginia Beach to visit former Kripalu roommate Nikki for (aww) Valentine's Day, and then Canada to take advantage of cheaper routine healthcare visit family and reup my Wilderness First Aid certification.

Christmas in the Everglades

I've spent the past two Christmases away from home, so this one I made sure to spend with family. My mom, grandma and I went down to Everglades City for a few days so my mom could do some painting of the landscapes.

We stayed at the "Rod and Gun Club" a historic location that with better caretakers could have been a nice experience... but as it was, I was unimpressed with the management of it.

I did learn a clever lesson from the waitress there however. One night we were eating in their restaurant (not worth it), and after bringing our drinks, she turned around, screamed, and ran into the kitchen. Murmurs of "rat" went around the dining room and a few people got up as if ready to leave. Seconds later, our waitress came out all smiles and announced to the room that she had been startled by a baby possum. The room sighed and relaxed as a few people said "awww, how cute". Apparently rats are walk-out worthy but possums are endearing. In her case, I think it was probably the truth, but what I gleaned from this was that if you're ever working in a restaurant that does have rats or other undesirable creatures for a food-providing establishment, try to reframe it into something cute if there's a dining room sighting. Your leeway with this depends, of course, on how many customers see what you see, but given what we know about the fallibility of eyewitness accounts, a swift "oh no, what's that poor kitten/baby bird/chipmunk doing in here?" should be at least enough to buy you time and avoid a mass exodus.

The other lesson I learned was at Shark Valley, a part of Everglades National Park that feels closer to a zoo than a national park given the paved "trail", masses of people and preponderance of animals in or just off the path who give no notice to the hundreds of humans passing by. Despite this, I had a fun time taking out one of their rusty beach cruisers on the 15-mile loop and I must have seen at least 60 gators and hundreds of birds.

The lesson came about 10 miles in when I tried to adjust the pants I was wearing that were unsuited to bike riding, seeing as I had been unaware of the day's itinerary upon dressing in the morning.

I stood up on my pedals, one-hand on the handlebars and the other trying to deter my underwear from it's upward course. As I stood, I inadvertently put weight down (and back) on my top pedal intending to coast... and promptly ate shit.

The moral of the story being that you can, in fact, forget how to ride a bike if that particular bike has pedal brakes - the devil is in the details.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Up the West Coast

So after my lovely train ride from San Fran to Eugene, Oregon, I was picked up by two of my favorite people in the world, Rica Arnesen and Erock Greensfelder (who is now floating the Grand Canyon - have a blast, you lucky bastard!)

We went to a party at a friend of Erik's farm and danced the night away in their barn (okay, Erik & Rica danced the night away - exhausted from my travels, I passed out snug in my sleeping bag in the back of Rica's car).

The next day we drove to Erik's home in Portland and commenced in experiencing it's excellent "brunch culture". We went to a popular place called "The Screen Door" and Erik and I had their specialty which is waffles and fried chicken. Best darn fried chicken I've ever had (commence gluten coma).
Of course being super-hardcore outdoorspeople and being in Portland, it was imperative that we go hiking...

Erik: "The Rock around here is really loose, it's not a good place for climbing."
After Portland, I made my way up to Seattle and stayed with the lovely and gracious Courtney Campbell. I made pilgrimages to some food places like the International District which had some great asian food including a pretty decent bahn mi

I also went to Pike Place Market...

The first Starbucks... not very exciting, but apparently picture-worthy?

I gotta say I was disappointed, a few good food vendors, way too many "handicrafts", and of course, too many tourists. I was not however, disappointed by the Seattle public library - in fact, I was very impressed! The architecture was sufficiently awesome and I even happened upon a medieval violin and choral concert

I also visited the sculpture park in some typical Seattle weather,
and visited the flagship REI store which has this ridiculous(ly awesome) bike testing trail outside the store in the middle of a city block
On my last night I hung out with former TRiP leader and marine biologist extraordinaire Max Maliska as well as the extremely cute and talented couple Rachel Grant and John Rugh who serenaded us into the evening.

A lovely time spent traveling the west coast which I am sure to return to soon!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Further Adventures in Cali

The last weeks at the ranch were fun while bittersweet; it felt so natural to be there it was weird to think about leaving. The last weekend we were there we had a little party, lots of food and a few visitors. We barbecued about half a pig's worth of pork and had lots of other treats like squash pie and homemade caramel.
After the ranch, we went to San Francisco for a few days and then to visit some friends in Chico. In SF it was 75 and sunny, and two days later we were snowed in at a friend's house near Chico!
We stayed for Thanksgiving and met lots of wonderful people. It was a big potluck affair with 27 people and it was a blast.
There was an enormous amount of food including a "cheeseman" (snowman made of cheese balls)
Evan (friend from Kripalu) came up from SF for Thanksgiving and we drove back through the Central Valley which produces a lot of this country's food.
We stopped and bought some fresh winter fruit which we made into a lovely salad
We wandered around the city, went to Golden Gate Park
and the California Academy of Sciences, which is one of the coolest museums I've ever been to. The main part is a multi-level ecosystem where you can view the aquarium from above and underwater as well as 4 different levels of living rainforest, a planetarium, living roof and lots of educational non-living exhibits too.
What a trip!

I also made a pilgrimage to Cafe Gratitude - a raw food cafe whose cookbooks inspired me to experiment a lot with raw, vegan desserts
Then I went to Mount Madonna (another yoga study center with a residential volunteer program) to visit Broderick (another friend from Kripalu) and check the place out. Beautiful hiking trails, deer chilling outside the cabin, lots of good conversation and music.

From there I went to Santa Cruz to see Noush (another Krip friend) and then back to SF. I went up to Berkeley to visit Francie (a friend from Camp Green Cove - way back) and had dinner with her and her boyfriend Matt, wandered the Berkeley campus and hopped on a train to Salem, Oregon (It seemed romantic to take the train up North, but after 17 hours I'm not so sure)... though it was beautiful.
I am about to meet Rica & Erik (friends from UF TRiP) - just having a grand old time visiting people I love on the west coast, next stop Seattle!