Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Definitely time for an update, because I was starting to forget when we did what... which makes for a messy blog.

Lots of fun movie watching. About a week and a half ago, I know we watched Return of the Living Dead (in all its 80s fabulousness -- some punk rock kids are actually named Suicide and Trash) and Evil Dead II (scary, again). RotLD is more funny than anything else -- the zombies are caused by army chemicals gone awry, they can talk and think, and they want only brains. This makes for some great lines, such as: "But I don't care darling, because I love you, and you've got to let me eat your brains." Evil Dead II was a tad confusing because the first 7 minutes are a refilmed recap of what happened in the first movie, and then it takes off with new material.

Completely unrelated -- we watched Microcosmos -- an awesome movie -- all insects & classical music. Probably best to have a drink or something first, though.

Let's see... I also remember having a late night run to Woodman's (grocery store) for ice cream... And we got creative in the kitchen & made a yummy spicy dinner -- Andrew was in charge of making the spicy salmon and cornbread, and I made fresh salsa. Unfortunately, I still haven't learned to wear gloves while cutting jalapenos. So my fingers were burning for hours afterwards. But the salsa... yummy.

Ok from here on out, I can actually get more specific...

Last Monday: We had a big adventure -- early in the day we headed to the Wisconsin Dells, and stopped at the OK Corral for a guided horseback ride through Devil's Canyon (which isn't as huge as it sounds) & some forest & pastures. It was tons of fun though -- Andrew was on the large chestnut Sammy, who seemed to want nothing more than to run into trees in order to scratch himself. Andrew had some trouble controlling Sammy's movements, so he resorted to kind of pushing himself off from nearby trees. Then there was my pretty girl, Arial, who was very worried about flies. So I spent some time just rubbing her neck so the flies wouldn't settle. A very leisurely, we-don't-want-to-kill-you sort of pace & trail, but I just wanted to be around horses -- I've always wished that I had a horse, and they're simply beautiful and smell, well, like a barn, which i think is a good thing.

Afterwards, on the suggestion of a woman working at the corral, we went to a pizza place in the downtown area. Pretty good -- but we were still pretty sold on making our own good food for less. Then we had a bit more time to kill -- I found some little copper earrings for like $3, and some postcards. Also enjoyed getting another view of the river in the cooled-down weather.

Then it was time for the drive in theater -- we got there too early, so we drove & saw cows in pasture and scenic barns (Andrew did indeed take pictures). We got a front row seat, and cracked out our candy. I insisted on popcorn because it was more reasonably priced than at, say, a regular theater. And we ate the whole tub. Oh that fake butter... you know it's bad when they put quotes around it: "hot buttered" popcorn. Ouch.

Anyway -- the double feature was Dukes of Hazzard (very entertaining, surprisingly), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (please spare me the pseudo-psych back story!) At first Andrew was worried that we'd fall asleep on the drive home, but the sugar kept us hyper for the duration.

Tuesday: I felt the need to keep up the trend of squeezing touristy stuff in every day, so I reminded Andrew that we hadn't been in the capitol building yet. So we walked over, explored, walked around on the outlook deck, and then took the tour. It was funny (our tour guide was great) and informative -- we saw all the different imported marbles/ granites, the supreme court, the assembly/ senate rooms, a conference room, the stuffed owl (a reminder of Old Abe -- Civil War hero), a big brass badger (rub his nose for good luck), and learned why it's the badger state (people initially often lived in dug out caves, like badgers). Beautiful, opulent building...

Later, we watched Supersize Me while cooking pot roast. I was completely floored, and of course disturbed. Lots of funny moments though... And the extras are fantastic -- an interview with the author of Fast Food Nation (a full 25 minutes), and a HILARIOUS piece on the decomposition of fast food. Come to find out, french fries like never break down. After nearly two months, they looked the same as the first day! EEK.

Late at night (this was a bad idea) we watched White Noise. So scary! The idea that spirits are still around... and then seeing the extras that included some true believers (in fact I think I saw them on the scifi channel at some point) running experiments... and then looking it up on the internet and seeing that lots of people believe in that stuff... needless to say, we kind of freaked ourselves out. I turned on all the lights just to use the bathroom. I didn't want to see anything in the mirror, you know!

Weds: After running some errands, we went to the zoo & visited old friends (growing lion cubs) and new (huge muppet-like chimps). Always fun. In the evening we went to the jazz on State St. for a while -- finally found a place to sit near the front -- and went home for a scrabble match. I probably won.

Thurs: The weather was iffy, so we went to the art museum. We looked at EVERYTHING. From the display on local American magic realists (John Wilde was my favorite), to the 18th century Flemish/ Dutch paintings, to the modern/ postmodern displays on the top level. Highlights: Circus themed sculpture, a painting of a Japanese street reflected in a furniture store window, and a chest of drawers stuffed with items, making for an interactive work of art.

After, it was time for food shopping... And minutes after getting in the car to go home, it started pouring. The sky just opened up and dumped. Thank God for indoor parking. So from inside, we watched the storm raging that brought on 11 tornadoes. Yipes. In keeping with the stormy theme, we watched the horribly 80s fab Return of the Living Dead II, which was basically a rehashing of the first, but with the addition of a young boy. "Have we been here before?"

Friday: Momentous day -- we ordered my new computer! Which will actually be up to date, and capable of doing all the things I'll want in the next four or five years. With the Apple discounts, I also ordered an Ipod mini which is free after the rebate, and a printer that was $100 off. Fun stuff.

In the evening, we walked to Monona Terrace to scope out the jazzy Dane Dance, and then proceded to the Union Terrace for ice cream and a song or two of the blues concert. Later on, I finished Moby Dick (so, so good). After some reflection, I decided it was time to take a break. So we watched Alice in Wonderland (yes, the 1951 Disney movie), which was, well, sublime. I love that cat!

Sat: Farmer's market excursion -- we're getting so good at it, even got kale & becky-approved meat & a melon. After, we actually sold my older computer for a compromised price -- yay! I feel very confident that it will serve someone well. But really, when embarking on another 5 to 6 years of, well, essentially professional academics, it seemed like it was time for an update... Goodbye Sony! I loved your screen, but not your fans.

After the business was taken care of, we were free to see the Corn fest. We drove out to Sun Prairie, and wandered about. carnival like -- rides, craft booths, petting fair, "midget races" (small cars), and, of course, CORN. You can get a whole box of corn, or by the ear. Andrew and I got one ear each -- I husked mine, dipped it in the tub of butter, salted it... best corn I've ever had. It was amazing. After that, there wasn't much more to do but wander around. But for an entry price of 50 cents, you can't really complain...

In the evening, we walked over to the Union Terrace again, for the second night of Blues. We sat by the lake at a picnic table. Very pretty & romantic.

Sunday: Andrew had orientation, so I fixed myself a nice lunch and read tons of NYT articles, and then went to meet him at the Union Terrace. He was pretty much done, so we left, relaxed, and then went grocery shopping. Very successful trip -- I love how cheap the ice cream is! Lotso good stuff. We had a late dinner of a TexMex casserole, topped with cornbread, and then played scrabble (Andrew just barely beat me) while watching the first of those National Geographic shows on 9/ 11. Very interesting... and very scary how many signs there were that a better secret service job could have picked up on. The preventability is what makes one freshly upset... after all, the reality has been there for four years, but knowing all the details of how it came about... ack.

Monday: Today we did another thing on our list. After getting my cell phone squared away (it's now in the mail!) we embarked on a journey. We walked along State Street, to the Union, and then from there, to Picnic Point, which has great views of the lake & city. Very pretty -- saw a small bunny, & lots of birds and squirrels. All in all.. about an 8 mile trek after getting there, looking about at the point, and then walking all the way back. crazy! Luckily dinner was already made and ready to be heated up... also had to have a scrabble rematch (I won, by a good margin! although we let me bend the rules at first after drawing initial hands of 5 vowels -- three times in a row!).

Now quite tired... must get to bed.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Time for an update!!

So about a week and a half ago, we took our first trip out toward Devil’s Lake. On the way, we stopped at the Wollersheim Winery for a tour and tasting. The tour was fun – the winery is located on a beautiful piece of land, on one of the few hills here in WI. The guide explained that they used to have rose bushes at the end of each row as a plant-disease indicator. And what used to be a cellar area is now a blocked off cave in the hill. Inside, where they ferment the grapes, there were huge vats… and a cellar area for storage in white oak barrels, which they were very picky about… apparently you can taste the difference in the wood, depending upon where the trees grew… sounded kind of crazy to me. The tasting was fun, and I got a better idea of the distinctions between different varieties. They even make a spiced wine, which was really strong and basically tasted like spiced pumpkin pie.

Afterwards, we headed to Devil’s Lake for a hike. We went up the west side’s trail, which was all up and then all down hill. We took the tumbled rock trail on the way back, and got a good close up look at the purple metamorphic rocks that are distinctive of that area. I was very itchy the whole time… perhaps due to the bug repellant itself. Ick! Anyway, the water looked beautiful, and after seeing the south side of the lake that, at that time of the evening at least, was quite secluded, we decided we’d need to come back.

Hmmm… so last Friday we went to a concert at the union terrace – instrumental hip stuff that Andrew’s into. This guy randomly asked us to guard his table (and his pitchers of beer), in exchange for some of the said beer. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that the pitchers have deposit charges… so when some guy asked to borrow it we didn’t think anything of it and said yes. Oops… We ended up walking home after the first set – nice evening out! Except again, I was very itchy.

So at some point Andrew decided that something must be wrong because I get itchy all the time and am so busy scratching that I totally miss out on any fun. He looked it up on the internet, read some symptoms of dermographism out, and I realized that he was basically describing my skin. Basically… my skin reacts to any irritation, producing a welt or “weal.” Then my body freaks out and there’s too much histamine or something and the initial welt causes more itchiness so I keep scratching and that can cause more welts… and then after about 25 minutes everything’s normal again as the welts subside. Crazy, huh? Anyway, the past couple of days I’ve been taking allergy medicine as the medical sites recommend, and I do seem… a lot less itchy.

In other news… last Sat. we went to the farmer’s market at a decent hour, and I realized that there really ARE a ton of vendors. Lots of affordable organic produce and ground beef. Yay!

Sunday we went to a play in a park out in Stoughton. We brought a picnic dinner of pesto & pasta, and watched the Outdoor Spaces group perform King Lear. Very low budget, but I enjoyed the refresher, esp. outside in the evening… lots of fireflies flitting about! Too bad they weren’t doing a comedy or A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Anyway… on Monday we went back to Devil’s Lake for swimming. The south side was pretty busy suddenly, as a lot of kids were there on school buses. Ick. But we still swam, so all was not lost! Pretty nice, but the lake’s bottom is mushy with mud, which is sometimes a tad disconcerting.

Tues. we took a trip shopping, and I got some basics at the Gap… including an umbrella, a hat ($3), leather slipper shoes ($4), and some basic shirts w/ sleeves (which my wardrobe was sorely lacking). I signed up for the Gap card finally… the 20% off definitely was appealing.

Weds evening we had a picnic dinner on the patio, wine & brie included, and then went to the Square to catch some of the orchestra performance. It was Americana themed… odd… but, still an orchestra was playing so I can’t complain. We walked down toward the convention center, and then on our way back, Anna suddenly was there! Crazy to actually find the one person you know in Madison at a crowded affair like that! Anyway, it was her birthday, so she was there with her sister and her sister’s bf. They also had cheese and wine, so we sat in with them and chatted.

Let’s see… Thurs. I think was the evening we took a walk… and earlier I went on a cleaning spree when Andrew was out, and showered, and did my fake tanner (so cool, by the way, that such things are available…) then Friday we took dinner down to the lakeside park for a picnic, and hung out to watch the sun set… yesterday we went to the farmer’s market as usual, and then a street fair, the Atwood Street Fair I think, and wandered around amongst vendors and music, drinking natural soda and eating organic coconut juice bars (from the Willy St. Co-op stand). So afterwards we went to Willy St. Co-op to browse… so cool, because the “conventionally grown” veggies are the minority section there, the opposite of course of most supermarkets. Definitely overpriced through, even on obviously widely available items like Luna bars.

I guess that brings us up to today! We hung out most of the day, and then went on a walk in the afternoon for some exercise. Picnicked on the square on the capitol building lawn, and then went to a theater for some local documentary films. I especially loved the “Trash Days” one – all about the trash generated by the Aug. 15th massive move-in day, when most university kids switch apts. Apparently like 10 thousand apts. are moved in and out of within the space of three days. Crazy! Soooo much waste… iiiiiiiccckkkkyyy landfills…

Hmm… in other news, we’ve been watching Star Wars (in order) w/ one to go. Also Netflixed Evil Dead, which was way gorier than I was expecting. Pretty damn scary, too. I’m about halfway through Moby Dick – I’m warming up to Melville, gradually. Lots of interesting cooking, now that we have sources of Thai basil. And we had another chicken masala night.

That’s it, for now…