Wednesday, January 31, 2007

simple?

No. Not for me, anyway.

I took my daughters’ car all the way to the west side and back again. Plenty of time to think about all the mistakes that can be made, not so much in life, but in a very brief expanse of time.

You could say that taking a photo through a dirty windshield while speeding on Campus Drive is just such a foolish act, but actually the traffic was moving very very slowly at the time. And the moon was out. And it seemed right.

I wish I could conclude that most decisions I make appear right months, or worse, years from their making.

Truth is, some do, some do not.


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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

feathers

If I go through a day and I ruffle no feathers, I consider that a success.

On balance, I would say that half of the days of the week I do and half I do not.

The worst is when the feathers I ruffle are my own.

Walking home, I encountered this little guy. Stern, don’t you think? He is asking me – why do you do it? I can only shrug my shoulders. How do I know?...

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Monday, January 29, 2007

shivering

Many shirts, a sweater and a wooly scarf – all for naught. It is cold. It isn’t as if I am hoisting the last scrap of wood into the fireplace. I live in a comfortable loft that has a thermostat and even though the forced warm air gets slightly tepid by the time it reaches the space occupied by me, if I keep the fan blowing long enough, it eventually does warm up the place.

I am cold in the way that one is cold when it all just isn’t enough.

I’m sitting at Borders, working away (some people work in offices; how boring is that) and my hand reaches toward my nose. It could serve as the cube that chills a summer beverage, it is that ice-like.

Earlier, I had done a brisk sprint through Shorewood, the neighborhood behind Borders. Not cold then, no, not at all (thank you, walking companion, for distracting me from the ice, the snow, the nip in the air).

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That was then. Cold now. Really cold.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

twisted

In the early morning, when the wind was beyond cold, I went out for a stroll. Yes, that’s right – a walk, up the Picnic Point path and back again.

Snow, wind, the cold tentacles of winter – I take them in stride. The twisted gnarled branches of life – now that’s another thing.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

winter

There are maybe two days in the year when the weather in Madison is perfect for cross-country skiing. Maybe one will fall on a day when you actually have time to hit a trail or two.

You wake up, have your granola, do some light stuff around the loft and then someone says to you – nice day out there… you want to go cross country skiing?

Damn. It’s almost noon. Who can be bothered with the effort of getting out and swishing around on boards.

You look up the weather for the week, hoping to put off this very outdoorsy project for the next day, but, that Arctic blast that hasn’t yet hit Madison? It’s about to hit Madison.

So you go to Fontana Sports, you purchase things that you think are fitting for an afternoon in the forest (but you keep tags on, just in case), you tell yourself the forest green cap is exactly right for any number of occasions (isn’t it?), you rent the skis and you set out.

And then you remember how much you love skiing. The trail (Blue Mounds State Park, make a note of it!) is groomed – five miles of hills and dips and curves and you are just in heaven. You even take a shot at parallel turns down especially precipitous dips in the path, even though cross country skiers are supposed to commune with nature rather than speed down for the thrill of it.

Winter. Not so bad, not today anyway.

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yes, there's a tag on the cap


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forest and farms


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not out of the woods yet

Friday, January 26, 2007

ice and snow and blueberry pancakes

Tight days mean little time for a leisurely stroll to and from work. I biked. With wet hair and a scarf flying in the winter wind.

And there was a winter wind. Ice, snow, I can handle it. (So could these students, just outside my office.)

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But my mind was on other places, other mornings. And food. Here, read about it on Ocean View, "Ingestibles" tab, of course.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

waiting

…for the big thaw. It is of little significance that the big lakes haven’t been frozen for more than a handful of days. In my mind, frozen water is a poor substitute for the spray and splash of the warm summer stuff, bedazzling at sunset, probably splendid at sunrise for the odd types who are drawn to watching that sort of thing.

Still, there are people who consider walking along the snow topped ice a pleasant, romantic little adventure.

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I applaud them. I am happy for them and they are happier with the date on the calendar than I am. (In truth, it is unreasonable to speak of thaws in Wisconsin in January).

Me, I wait for the Terrace chairs to be out again, not piled against a wall, pushed away, irrelevant, undesirable, cold.

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The best thing about biting, crisp days like this is that you’re glad when they are done with.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

wednesday woes

I may as well set this up as a regular Ocean feature for this semester. Because, fact is, I do not have the required minutes (and therefore the creative spirit) to make much of anything of this midweek day. It is, and will be for weeks on end, too busy (with work) for words.

But maybe not for photos. As long as one wakes up and gets out of bed, there is never no room for grabbing your digital and taking a shot of the world.

So there you have it. My day ends with a walk along the lake. I have to give support to a fundraiser at the Monona Terrace convention center. Within walking distance for me.

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Once there, I am lost amidst swarms of unknown people. What do I do? Consider hitting the dessert tray. Worth it? You tell me.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

signs

What greater evidence is there of the beginning of a semester than the appearance of posts here, on Ocean, that are short, but not so crisp, and certainly not always to the point?

Walking home from work, with my camera dangling as usual in the hope that something wonderfully amusing or, in the alternative, fantastically clever will strike me, thereby forming the backbone of an evening story, I almost reached the loft before taking a single shot. And I chose to photograph this:

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Why? Not for the cleverness nor amusement value, but for exactly what it is: the incongruous pairing of a sunshine motif with the reality of snow piled around bicycles.

Again, why is this of interest to me? I’m still contemplating my own March madness. Assume I have earned a week-end of downtime. Should it be in warm places (where oranges grow)? Oddly, I think it will be in a place that’s both cold (encased in snow) and warm (kissed by the sun) at the same time.

So many days between now and March. So many chances to change my mind.

Monday, January 22, 2007

mammoth thoughts about mammoth people, plus a photo of a mammoth tree

It seems that sometimes, people just take charge. Of a conversation, of a life, of a problematic set of circumstances. They seize the reigns, grab the bull’s horn (or is it tail?), they jump in and suddenly, they are towering and omnipresent, and their inclinations, proclivities, ideas and belief systems are ferociously palpable.

You might think that I would regard this as a bad thing. It smells of an aggressive, domineering stance. Most unwelcome, right?

No. Over the years, I have felt the strength of people who can do this effectively and it is incredible to behold. They tower over you, they appear to strike against your most pernicious fears and worries and then, miraculously, they step back and let the free-wheeling, independent spirits roam again.

It doesn’t happen very often (not the seizing the reigns, not the stepping back), but in my mind at least there are the rare types who can do it, have done it, are willing to do it. Heroes, to me.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

buried

If, looking outside today, you leapt out of bed, downed a hefty bowl of granola, with a steaming latte on the side, slid into your warmies and your winter boots and dashed outside to play in the immensely beautiful snow – you were not me. Or even remotely like me.

But, as the afternoon progressed, I caved. Ignoring paperwork, ignoring work demands, I went outside. Snow like this is rare.

I walked the block to the lake and sure enough, finally, the ice fishers were there. Some with children, some alone.

A year has passed. Last winter, these guys had me out there watching, photographing them constantly. This year, only now did I feel it is safe enough for me to walk out and look around.

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But that was just an afternoon pause. Basically, I remain buried. Under a layer of a different kind of white stuff: paper.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

week-end redirect

Looking for a story tonight? Ocean View (Save & Travel tab) has an update. What about? Oh, on this kind of journey:

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It is far, far better to direct you there than to have me write about this cold, cold, work-filled day.

Friday, January 19, 2007

dear little one,

I didn’t mean it. When I told you that you were stubborn (back when you were only a week old), I didn’t mean it. Or, I meant it then, but I think now you were just communicating your willfulness. And desire. For food, for life, for the winter season. Making a statement.

That photo? You look so little, there in that field, with a bunch of flowers in your hair and sporting a New York t-shirt. A successful parent is one who can make you appreciate both – nature and New York (and Istanbul and Buenos Aires). And so in this way, I have not failed.

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We toddled along, you and I. You, more patiently than I, of that I am certain. I forgave you your long hours at work and play, I forgave you your way of scorning the vegetables on your plate. And you forgave me my insistence that there be room for everything in your life (even the vegetables). And you tested and tasted life and made up your own mind and the one minute we were not watching, there you were, holding onto a plateful of good things.

Bold steps, one after another -- an early start, you walked before anyone on the planet. No one has your concentration, your attention to the finer details of life. Thank you for not dwelling on the imperfections that are all around us, even as I try to get a handle on it all, realizing that one never does fully get a handle on it all.

You fit in. In life, you fit in. You are that flexible, that curious, that tolerant of those with strong convictions (yes, I have food convictions, I admit it – and you humor me and work next to me as we pile food onto plates and trays, side by side, you and I in the kitchen – thank you for this).

Twenty-two is like two twos, two terrible twos only you were never terrible. It’s as if you skipped from being one, to a confluence of ages and years so that you have always been a child and an adult and you worried along with me when I worried about you because you understood that sometimes one needs to worry.

But mostly, your face has been a barrelful of expressions. You can make lizards dance with that mouth down pout. You have made us laugh hard.

Your sister adores you, your dad does too, and your friends, but move over, people, there is room for me! I adore you so much, my little one!

Happy birthday!

…with so much love…
~muz

Thursday, January 18, 2007

PR

What’s in a word… Or in letters? What images do those two bring forth?

POLAR?

An obvious choice today. Light snow flurries, gray skies.

I need a break! It cannot be all work, I need a break! I meander. Just a handful of blocks, to Vilas Park, the zoo, empty now. No little children with cups of fizzy soda… So cold… Are there beings who do not mind this grayness, this utter chill?

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PR... Public Relations?

In my days (are my days no more?), I heard a lot about PR. We need to do some PR work, our image is at an all time low. Do people still worry about Public Relations? Elected officials? Firms and corporations? Universities? Professors?

I do. Bloggers who use their real names have to worry about this. What image do you project when you write frivolously?

Whatever it is, it’s better than posting about the nonfrivolous: work. I love my job to death, but I rarely write about it. I am a photographer who does not turn on the power of the camera (I speak figuratively here) until the door of work slams behind me.

Thoughts like that come up as I sit immersed in materials, preparing for the next semester (which starts next week).


Puerto Rico

Of course! It had to be! An addendum to the post below:

What are you saying, that people should not go all the way to Puerto Rico for long week-ends? You’re kidding, right? It is the norm! That is why prices are so elevated Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Working people go away for week-ends. Self employed people do whatever they please. You are self-employed. I am not.
Puerto Rico is too far for a short trip. Five hours on the flight, each way…

I feel I am listening to my mother.

Too far…
No, I cannot listen to another too. I booked a room. Come or not, I’m off. A week-end in early March. So that I can smell the salt and listen to the steady ripple of waves.

Camping, would you consider camping? Hiking maybe?
No.

Some may consider a few days of warming one's toes in golden sands boring.

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Not me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

fleeing the darker side of winter

Looks like the March sailing week-end is off. No boat to be had down there on the Keyes.
What??
(a sigh of relief… boats on choppy waters… go this way and that way, go this way and that)
But what I really say is – a week-end at a southern shore is what I long for on the cold dark days of January, February… What now?
What now… we’ll see… something will come up.

My occasional traveling companion just erased an image of boat decks and shorefront bars where sailors drink whiskey and smoke cigars. It’s what stories are made of. Gone.

Can we forget about the sailing bit and find a beach for the week-end? I have built my life around the image of the Caribbean blue waters in March.
Reluctantly: There are cheap fares to the Bahamas. People go there to gamble. Beach during the day, casino at night. You want to gamble?
No.
I don’t either… But that’s what you do down there…

(Future traveling companions: The way to my heart is NOT through a cheap airfare and gambling.)

I’ll look up some fun and funky places to stay, where fans spin in tile-floor rooms and locals sit on bar stools in the lounge and sip on whiskey and rum…
Can you keep it under $65 per night?
That wipes out the vast majority of winter Caribbean destinations!
How about Puerto Rico?
I’m surfing the Net as we speak…
So, cheap places. Have you found any?


(Future traveling companions: The way to my heart is NOT through a constant search for the very cheapest room to be had on whatever side of the ocean you may find yourself.)

Who needs a beach anyway… It’s pretty, here, in sunny cold Wisconsin. True, the picnic tables will stand empty for another six months or so…

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…but one needs to look on the upside of a January day.

Driving home late in the evening I focus on the upside of a January day. I try not to pay attention to the smoke suspended from chimneys, never seeming to go anywhere at all, held back by the cold. I try not to see that.

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I bring back my now polluted daydream of hammocks suspended between palm trees and bars filled with sailors and locals, drinking whiskey and rum. The remains of an image. They’ll get me through a day or two.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

when did I become an American?

Truth is, I don’t know. There was no defining moment, not at the level of awareness nor at the level of government bureaucracy.

Some two dozen years ago, I switched my status from that of a resident alien to a US citizen, but I really don’t remember exactly when it happened. I was never naturalized. At some point, during the looser times of the eighties, I requested a passport and, based on my familial history, too complicated to explain here, I was granted it.

So maybe, technically, I had always been an American, even though I was born and raised in Poland, was eligible to vote in Poland, left the country as a Pole and returned to it as a Pole?

In those early decades of my life, I was so Polish that the idea of a different identity would be shocking. Sort of like finding out that you were adopted. Guess what, you are an American!

When my first American passport came in the mail (when? when?? 1985? later?) I did not relinquish my Polish passport and so I am technically a Pole as well. Technically? I feel my formative mush inside is composed of more Polish identifiers than American ones. Even though, right now, I really have more in common with the folks on this side of the ocean.

Today I wanted to file for a new American passport. I had lost my “real one” back in Italy (or Switzerland?), in May and time was running out: replacement passports obtained abroad have to be switched over to the real thing within a year. I called the US Passport people and asked what it is that I need for filing purposes (it isn’t clear on the web for losers like me. Losers of passports. Losers of identities, maybe).

Easy! I am told. Submit form XXX, two photos, your temporary replacement passport, a copy a drivers license and, you know, because we are going through tough times, proof of citizenship: your birth certificate or naturalization papers.

But I have neither! I am a child of Poland, an adult of America, maybe I was always American, but I certainly didn’t know it until I was close to forty and if not, I do not know when I became an American.

No birth certificate?
A Polish one.
No naturalization papers?

No.

Hmmm. Do you have an old passport? An invalid one? That would do.

Notice to the general public of Switzerland and Italy: somewhere on your soil lies my true identity. I left it there. Could you help me locate it please? It bears testament to the fact that I am an American! (I am American, aren’t I?)

You don’t have any old passports at all, do you?

I remember getting rid of clutter as I moved to the loft a little over a year ago. Does an old passport constitute clutter? And if I trashed it, what now? Where is there proof that I am indeed an American?

Nowhere.

I think about how I have made travel my life (or so it sometimes seems). I think how ironic that my traveling days may be over. How can I leave the country if I have no papers giving me permission to return?

I drive around Madison, looking at the land that is suddenly not my homeland or at least not if I leave it, if I can leave it. Snow-covered, blue and yellow land, my favorite colors, snow is blue, sunlight is yellow, am I a Swede?

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Of this I am certain: I am not a Swede.

Driving west, driving east, east meets west – I live in downtown Madison now where indeed the east meets the west. In the same way that my eastern roots met my western identity? Am I a median of the two? The halfway point to each? Is that why I like France? Or the ocean?

I pass my old neighborhood where I lived until recently. Until the time I threw out old papers. The snow looks clean and fresh here. It is a child’s neighborhood. A place to grow up, a place to be an American.


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Wait, one more drawer of papers and mementos. I can check one more drawer. At the loft, I open it, a drawer that holds my identity. An envelope with a letter written just two years ago. It tells me to protect and take care of my new passport (I failed! I lost it in Italy or Switzerland or in crossing from one to the other!). The letter accompanies an old, canceled, dated passport.

I am American after all. I am, aren’t I? A cancelled identity, broken, rebuilt, resubmitted for a stamp of approval. You're one of us! Am I? You almost didn't claim me. No matter. Confusion is the story of my life. On either side of the ocean.


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Monday, January 15, 2007

think travel, read Ocean View

Two new stories for you on the Ask For an Ocean View website: one on how to pick a restaurant in Paris without really trying and another on flying free and rubbing shoulders with the business class.

It’s a snowy day here in the Midwest. Finally, winter. I can’t believe I was singing its seasonal virtues just a few days back. Damn cold out there. Time to think about getting away.


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

onion

A vegetable of tears, the name of a satirical paper, a food of central Europe. And as a food – unforgiving. Bad vibes, bad breath, sad days, long days.

One daughter returns to her home out east today and this causes me to think the following: daughters are irreplaceable. Sons must be as well, but I don’t know anything about sons. I only have daughters.

I wrote earlier to her that even in the silence of a sleeping daughter, there is the comforting noise of her presence. The anticipation of a waking moment. The knowledge that you can shout up and get a (mumbled, sleepy) response.

In the evening, I go to Whole Foods to buy vegetables for dinner. No onions. Forget nutrition, forget the good price. Dumb vegetable of sadness.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

snow

…covers all. Doesn’t take much. A light flurry, like a sedative. What are the choice words? Under a blanket of snow, a dusting of snow… Forget about the grays, the departures, the tiredness, the work, the long period before spring. All hidden, blocked. Under a blanket of snow.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Flavors

Potatoes, and flour. Sage – lots of sage and olive oil. Porcini mushrooms, shallots, parmiggiano. Small tomatoes, fresh kernels of corn, arugula. Eggplant, mozzarella, oregano. Sage again, and olive oil and fontina cheese. Bread with this one. Oh! Celeriac and celery and nutmeg. How could I forget! And finally – pears, blackberries, raspberries, lavender buds, honey and oats.

There you have it – the principal items, assembled in the above combinations, creating dishes. No meats, no fish, none of that – just the veggies and cheeses of Sicily and Calabria, the fruits of, well, the Americas and lavender buds of the Mediterranean in general.

I have zapped away the gray that has hovered over Madison these past days. My mind, today, is focused on what the kitchen can create.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

colors

When you have been inundated with the blues and delightful tones of virtual travel (especially in and around the Mediterranean), you begin to think that this really is the way the world presents itself. I mean this in the broadest sense: you begin to believe that life is made of days where all you have is the hot pursuit of all the beautiful rooms with views out there. I kid you not.

But, at the close of the day, the photos, the web site where you have been placing them, they all recede. The splash of reality. It’s like someone pouring a can of gray paint over your day. Work, chores, and the tones of a mid January afternoon in Madison seep in. I know it looks like Pittsburgh, or Detroit maybe. But it’s Madison.


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Except, you know, you know, that in a matter of secs, okay, hours maybe, you can go back and reclaim the blues. Hang in there, blues! I’ll be back in a little while.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

it’s here!

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There were the much needed pats on the head: there, there, you know most website launches are delayed for technical reasons.

And the encouraging words: I have never seen you so preoccupied. Come up for air! It will be fine! It already is fine.

Not good enough yesterday, nor the day before, but good enough to launch on the promised date: today.

If you are a travel enthusiast, an Ocean enthusiast, or just damn curious, click on this brand new website, brought to you by...me: Ask For an Ocean View.

The site will be updated several times each week, so keep checking for more.

And now, a pause for some fresh air. Haven’t had much of it lately.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

signs

Well, it can happen. One arm may work, the other may not. But the thing is, it's only a blog. It's only a website. It's not all that happens in a day. A taste, a fraction, a little piece comes up and gets posted. The rest continues, regardless of what happens on the Net.

Still, one gets invested in it. And one hopes for the best. And, walking down the stairs with a garbage bag for the trash bin, occasionally one gets rewarded with a storybook sign of good things to come.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

the Internet

I think it came to us too late. Five years maybe, not more, but too late nonetheless. For those of us whose work doesn't rest on absolute Internet proficiency there is no hope. We are the lost generation.

We want to know it, understand it, work with it, benefit from it, but we cannot. We take a step, we feel competent and proficient and then something happens and we feel horribly undermined, discouraged, put down.

It is no mystery by now that I am working on a website. The frame of it is there, finally, after a week of hard labor and great assistance from a person who is able (as opposed to me).

I'm working away at filling things in, linking, writing, endlessly, happily and then I notice one of the pages is completely out of wack. The alignment suddenly looks off. And I cannot fix it. I try, but I am stumped. I call my able person, she asks me to zip it to her (people of my age don't routinely zip and unzip files and so I have to reeducate myself there). It may be that I have to start from scratch. A mess up on the computer can be costly.

I think about this now as I try to navigate and search and insert and adjust and replace. Skills no one ever taught us. Skills that make or break a project.

Inept, behind, without skills. Partially literate, wholly incompetent. My generation. Or at least me.


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double latte for a pick me up

Sunday, January 07, 2007

discarded

Ideas, activities, thoughts, more concrete plans and perspecitives -- discarded because I am so focused on something else.

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along Lake Mendota: discarded tree, discarded pumpkin

After this coming January 10th I'll be more balanced. Of course I will. Hang in there for the unveiling of grand schemes. In the meantime, I am woking hard to permit Ocean to bloom in days where I should be sequestered in the bubble of my own work and... secret project making.

Patience, said so and so, is extraordinarily rewarding.

That better be true.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

in transit

Leave one place, find another. Wake up, looking out on the alley and the house next door. It’s warm, inside and out. I crack the window. Mmmm, breezes, good breezes, gentle breezes.

How unpredictable it all is!

One last stop, with daughters, picking out sale items on a clothes rack. I learn from them. They steer me to the good stuff in life.

Oh, don’t let’s leave yet… there’s an Italian cafĂ©, maybe a latte for the drive back?

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It’s an easy drive. Three hours. I have done it maybe 159 times in my life, maybe more. Surely more.

We buy vegetables, grill them, eat them. Home, back at the loft.

Friday, January 05, 2007

from Chicago: questions

If someone tells you you’re swell, terrific, the best, how do you respond next time you work on a project with that person? Do you try even harder? Or, do you think -- eh, I already won the person over, let me put my efforts elsewhere?

Separately: if someone comes into a windfall and needs your help in spending his/her fortune, would you put great efforts into assisting him/her in acquiring his/her dream situation or would you pout at the unfairness of it all?

Separately: if you go out to dinner and one of your party announces that they are suffering terribly from a debilitating pain and potentially horrible illness, would you continue to chomp away at the food before you, or would you abandon all pretense of a fine evening and move on, perhaps to a local ER room?

Separately, if this were your last overnight in Evanston, probably ever in your life, because your family member who has heretofore provided housing in Evanston every time you stopped over in the greater Chicago area, would you feel compelled to do something Evanston-specific? Like, teeter along among the staid and proper? Or would you go to your favorite Chicago neighborhood and enjoy it, because it is oh so much more with-it than this northern city enclave?

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leaving Evaston, finding the hipper neighborhood of Andersonville


All this to consider in one day. My last day in Evanston (Chicago). Tomorrow, back to Madison.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

from chicago: is it night? day? what?

I wake up early, stumble to my computer and check for messages. Bingo! One from my partner in crime, the graphic designer who has been helping me change things from html to readable matter on my new website.

I read it. There is a suggestion and a question. I answer with ten emails, clarifying and asking for new things to be added.

Breakfast. Shake granola into bowl, drink coffee with warm milk. Back to corner of the room where I remain huddled over my screen for the rest of the day.

Work – does it ever grab you? So that there is nothing that you would rather be doing? I have periods like that and this is one of them.

I go over data from last semester’s exams, I make notes on a new class I am to teach in spring, I consider changing some of my travel ideas for spring and summer and then its back to the new website. Text, written a day ago seems flat. I want to change it. I don’t know how to put in changes. Not yet.

More emails back and forth. Jo, the designer, responds. She is quick. I need quick. I am not the wait, for God’s sake, patient type.

Out I go to move the car. City life. My day is punctuated in two hour intervals. Move the car, avoid ticket. Each trip out is my breath of fresh air. I walk to the car, take note of the warm temp, pull my polar bear pajama bottoms up to avoid puddles (do writer type people ever get out of their pajamas? why?), look for an empty spot, go back and write.

By three I need a latte. At least I tell myself that I must surely drink a latte. It is another marker of the passage of time.

I am in Chicago, but I may as well be in Poughkeepsie. I drift in and out of Starbucks (too preoccupied to think about going elsewhere), return home for the last stretch before dinner.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

from chicago: excess

I had an excess of blog-related writing today. Tons and gobs. A whole day’s worth. The webpage is getting a big push into the world. A few more days! Still, a fair warning: the waters haven’t burst yet. In fact, burst is exactly the wrong word. It is a slow and painful process. I may lose all friends and family along the way.

(Thank you those who are continuing to be patient and amused rather than ick-ed out in these days when I am preoccupied and admittedly a pain in all regions.)

In the meantime, the good weather is passing me by. Much is passing me by.

In the evening, I make my way to a strip mall and have myself a hell of a good green curry dish.

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Then it’s back to the blog. World, I am busy. Be patient. It’s bang or bust. I am forging ahead.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ocean, 3

Today marks a three year anniversary for the Other Side of the Ocean.

Another year of daily posts, though some have come terribly close to midnight and on three occasions I missed posting altogether. No WiFi on mountain summits in Canada.

Just as the idea that I should blog came suddenly, moments before I published my first post, so too, in the last days of this December, the idea that I should do something completely new and different with Ocean morphed into a reality. Of sorts. The ends aren’t tied, the paint isn’t dry, but the decision has been made.

This month, something new will appear on the Net. An Ocean offshoot, a child, bearing the name of the parents and some awfully familiar traits, but taking them into directions that are only in part Ocean-esque.

Look for the newborn. She'll be here soon. And today, I get to announce her name: ask for an Ocean view.

Like a teetering old thing, Ocean itself will continue in a parallel universe. It’ll lend support and encouragement to the other young thing and then, the hope is that the young thing will make it on its own and maybe support Ocean in her old age.

If this all seems too oblique and mysterious, keep checking in. The exact date of birth, as in all births, is a more or less thing. Let’s just say labor has begun.

In the meantime, I’m ready for champagne. Three years of daily posts is a long time.

Thanks, to all you kind readers and patient souls, good commenters and out-of-the-blue emailiers – you have been Ocean’s fuel. To a year of good ideas and even better images, for all of us.

january 07 004

Monday, January 01, 2007

in Chicago: clean dishes

And so midnight came and champagne (tinted a shade of rose) filled glasses and chunks of lobster sat precariously on fat scallops.


december 06 466
lobster on a scallop, over truffled leeks


Thrilling foods, reserved for this one extraordinary evening.

And then you wake up and it’s back to menu planning. Daily bread foods. Polenta with tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms. Field greens and rosemary flatbreads.

A clean plate on the table. Welcome, 2007.