Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dana in L.A.

Today is my last day in So-Cal, but I've been here for a week now so I feel that I have thoroughly observed the native culture. Sure I've spent many weeks here over the course of my life, but I hadn't been back for five years or so, so I feel as if my impressions this trip were nearly those of a first-time visitor. Without further ado, here they are...

1. Wherever you go, they're filming a movie.
So far I've walked, run, or driven by three different filming projects. One was going on at a house just down the street from my grandmother, so I drove by it several times a day. Never once did I see an actor-type person. The windows of the house were covered with block cloth and the tiny lawn was cluttered with lighting and sound equipment. But the food service alone seemed to require the labor of 50 people or more.

2. Little boys have long hair.
I'm not talking mullets here. I'm talking ten-year-old boys in designer jeans with golden locks brushing over their shoulders. Sure it's not every ten-year-old boy, but I can't think of anywhere else in the country where such youthful, stylish males sport this kind of hairstyle.

3. There are 8 million freeways.
... that all seemingly lead to three locations. My aunt and uncle, after marveling over the perpetual parking lot that is the 405, remarked, "Thank goodness for the 105." Apparently, this second highway runs parallel to the first through much of L.A. The only conclusion that I can draw from this example is that many of the highways have become so crowded that a second road alongside the first has become necessary. Which leads me to wonder, who are those suckers still sitting on the 405? My mom says they're from the Valley.

Tomorrow I return to the windy city, where a movie being shot in town is cause for great excitement, the only men with long-hair are aging rockers, and the two main arteries intersect at a right angle just south of the Loop. Though I look forward to returning to my home in the heartland, what I will miss about L.A. is the abundancy of interesting salads on restaurant menus and the distinct lack of humidity. It's enough to make a person kind of soft.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Century

Mars Cheese Castle

This past weekend found us making the now-familiar trek up north to the wilds of northern Wisconsin (past such landmarks as the one pictured above), our singular goal being the completion of a century bike ride. Well, I say "our" in the figurative sense, of course. I certainly didn't ride 100 miles.

But the two strapping young lads who made up half of our party did. And they did it with gusto. In fact, the whole endeavor was so un-taxing for them that one of the two managed to water-ski later that day and both managed to accompany us womens on an 18-mile ride the next morning. Of course it's not like us womens sat around and ate bon-bons up to that point. We put in some major mileage on foot, preparing for our end-of-September half-marathon.

But the boys were really the athletic stars of the weekend. Three cheers for showing those puny hundred miles just who their daddies are.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Loving Limpa

Swedish bread

Because my new home is located in a traditionally Swedish neighborhood, I decided, rather than search for the French bread that I'm missing like crazy, I should embrace the local flavor. So this morning found me wandering into none other than THE Swedish Bakery. It's a large, bustling place with case upon case of pastries, cookies, and cakes. They have a lot of the traditional American bakery fare - including Danishes called cheese and cherry "boats"- but also a large bread rack behind the counter. There were at least 10 or 12 different kinds of sandwich-type bread (alas, no baguettes) but I went right for the Limpa, the Stockholm Limpa to be exact, which is pictured above. And what can I say? It's delicious. According to the store's website, Limpa is made from "white flour blended with rye flour, molasses, brown sugar and a touch of fennel spice" so it's a little sweet (dare I say swede-ish?) and a tiny bit spicy. If you are ever in the vicinity of a Swedish bakery, I suggest giving it a try. Or come over to our place. The loaves are huge so we'd be glad to share.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Would you brush your teeth with this?

Mayonnaise 1

You might be wondering what this photo of mayonnaise in a tube has to do with this post. If you guessed "nothing," you'd be very right. I wanted to post pictures of our apartment today, but it's really not photo-ready yet. We've made a lot of progress this weekend though, so pictures will indeed be posted soon. I swear.

Anyway, we are not machines. We must sacrifice some of our time amusing ourselves and sleeping, of course. Friday night was dinner out at Andie's and a game of poker (which I won, by the way); Saturday was rain, rain, and more rain, interspersed with trips to the Green City Market, Target, and Trader Joe's, followed by bruschetta for dinner and The Big Bounce, thanks to HBO On-Demand. And today we were all about running/cycling and the Golden Nugget Pancake House afterward.

Nevertheless, clothes were put away and closets organized, under-cabinet lights were installed, and a crazy, 150-lb. capacity grocery caddie was purchased. So we're really almost there.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Gershwin and Gyros

Being back in the distinctly American city of Chicago has made me very happy. I am very at home here now, despite the fact that I do not pronounce my o’s like a’s and my a’s like I’m in pain and despite my distaste for deep dish pizza.

What I do enjoy here is the celebration of summer, the two months of heat and stickiness that act as a break from winter. Wednesday night we heard Rhapsody in Blue at the Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park. While the orchestra serenaded us, we ate prosciutto-wrapped melon chunks and fresh fruit salad. Tonight we’re going to eat at Andie’s, a Greek spot in our ‘hood, and then perhaps we’ll join the Trixies and the Chads down on Rush St. for some dancing up in da club. That’s not a particularly summery activity, you’re saying, but in Chicago, any evening for which you can dress up to go out without worrying about your toes snapping off and your hair freezing, you know it’s summer and you enjoy it.

The apartment is coming along and starting to resemble some place we both want to live. This morning’s accomplishment was the putting of books on shelves. I was in charge of fiction. Needless to say, I finished in about 12 minutes, and there is no rhyme or reason in the arrangement of our novels, plays, and poetry. On the non-fiction bookcase, there are sections for political commentary, memoirs, and autobiography, among other categories which I’ve since forgotten. At least my shelf looks pretty.

So despite the heat and humidity, I’m not really ready for summer to end any time soon. Bon été à tous et à toutes.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

These are shedders


Phew. I don't even really know where to begin with this post so I thought I'd throw some lobstahs up there for you. I enjoyed these tasty babies last Saturday night on Vinalhaven, where I spent the weekend with good friends from college. Sure it took 16 hours in the car and 2.5 on a boat, but it was worth it. I am big on seeing people I care about ensconced in their current environments. Something about seeing their homes, their friends, their places of work makes me feel calm and satisfied, especially if those friends are really happy in said environments.

Now I am back in Chi-town, adjusting to my own new environment. Pictures will follow, trust me. But let's just say I think I could get used to this place...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

American Girl

I'm finally back in the States and already sick of the traffic on I-95. I do love me the open spaces though... I feel like I can finally breathe again and I can't get over the luxurious width of the sidewalks here.

Anyway, I promised Tour de France pictures and here they are:

A shot of the Caravan going through before the riders arrived...

Tour de France - Credit Lyonnais car

and the peloton itself.

Tour de France - middle of Peloton

A toute a l'heure.