Monday, April 30, 2007


…even think you’ll get more than a hermit’s line here today. Despite the fantastic spring skies and, I’m sure, proliferating spring flora, I remain preoccupied with GETTING WORK DONE.

On my table – there are flowers on my table. Would like to see the insider’s (meaning a person who spent her day inside) view of the petals of spring? Here, stare at these:


Sunday, April 29, 2007

a peachy day

Yes, really, peach blossoms, in Madison.


But who can even pay attention? Work. Work. Get it done. Finish it up. Work, damn it!

And this Thursday, finally, put a (temporary) stop to it, take a break. Fly away.

Where to? What for?

For the challenge of it. For the insights. For the people. And food.

Keep checking.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

even the mall is beautiful

Outside Old Orchard mall; what's in a name...

Perhaps this is a stretch. But the day was so pretty, that there were almost as many people in parks and along the Chicago lakefront as in the malls.

I wasn’t shopping at the mall, not in the true sense of the word "shopping." I was attempting to find the one Pottery Barn store out there that would be compassionate enough to take back something of mine and, in so doing, save a few trees maybe.

I had purchased said item 18 months ago and never used it. I don’t want it. It is expensive (by my standards). It is useless to me. Yet it is still listed in the PBarn catalogue. Someone else may want it with the passion of a typical consumer convinced that only X item will do. But PBarn will not take the item back because..... it has sat in my closet for 18 months.

Why so long? I am a busy person and don’t get to the malls much! PBarn, loosen up already.

After a few hours of quasi-shopping, my Chicago host and I drove downtown just so we could chomp on the best burgers ever. Burgers and I -- now that is a rare encounter. Indeed, I eat burgers more rarely than I go to the mall. But my host eats burgers and so his word is more credible and he agreed. Just so you know, the best burger can be found here:

note Hop Haus

…and my selection, the French burger (with brie and moutarde and balsamic onions) looks like this:


Some people find cities claustrophobic. As if the buildings are closing in on them.


I was raised on cities, or at least in cities and all I can see is their splendidness (even as I so often need to leave them and wade in meadows).

I came back to Madison this evening. It doesn’t offer meadows, but it’s plenty green. Once April rolls into May.

Friday, April 27, 2007

south of the border

Such good food, here, south of where I live.

Borders are funny lines drawn (sometimes, but not always, with hostility) by neighboring entities. So the fact that something is south of the border should not make much difference (esp. foodwise), but it does. Step south of the line and you are completely elsewhere.

In Illinois.
Funky trendy Lincoln Square


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

a week in review: new technology

Ten minutes clicking “put in shopping cart” and giving credit card information for the acquisition of the smallest notebook around (Sony).

Fifteen minutes finding out which cell phone services are compatible with European networks.

One hour talking to various reps of the two major ones (Cingular and T-Mobile) to figure out what I need to link the new notebook via the cell phone to the Internet, especially in Europe.

One hour getting wrong information while talking to various reps about the above.

Not knowing that I was getting incorrect information, fifteen minutes giving mailing and credit card information for the acquisition of a cell phone that would, according to some, link my notebook to the world.

One hour taking new notebook and new cell phone to chosen provider to link the two under the purchased plan.

One minute to find out that this was completely incorrect and that nothing of what I had purchased would link me to anything beyond a computer with music stored on it.

Two hours talking to rep from new computer company (Sony) only to find out that I managed to purchase THE ONLY SONY ON THE MARKET that has a card linking it to cell technology of one of the providers (Sprint) that does not use European cell technology and therefore, for international purposes, is worthless.

Three hours surfing the Net, looking for ways to acquire aircards that would link my particular computer with cell systems in Europe.

Three hours and fifteen minutes for the beyond wonderful (Cingular, now the new AT&T) salesman to figure out a way to circumvent all problems, including the ever stubborn and have it her own way Windows Vista, and to put me on the map of France, to say nothing of the world, footloose and free, with my new (Sony) notebook and my aircard, never to be bothered by the absence of Wi Fi anywhere ever again. (This is not a time to ask -- at what cost??)

To be continued, of this I am sure.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I had dinner with a friend tonight. We went to this place on State Street:


Good view, no? Is there a name for the phenomenon where two triangular structures align themselves in this way? Do you see it? -- a liquor store and the art center. How appropriate.

We were both hungry and the food is quite good here. We were curious about the portions and upon learning that "meat" means more than half a pound of meat, we decide to share.

We begin by also sharing a bottle of wine…


…then, in a moment of great independence, we each order a cup of soup. After this, we return to sharing: the steak dish, followed by a (shared) salad.

Would we like to see the dessert menu? No, not at all. We have no room for dessert. We have just finished a (shared) two course meal along with a (shared) salad.

What does this say about food portions in this town?

Monday, April 23, 2007

scenes from the (former) tobacco warehouse where I (currently) live: an evening in April

She stands on the balcony, sipping wine. He says things to her. She answers, with enthusiasm.


So why does he walk away? (She takes a sip, looks up and disappears.)


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The day

Say what you will, everyone should have a birthday where 1. they’re healthy 2. and the weather is grand. It also helps if it’s a week-end.

How to begin? Easy.

A chocolate croissant, a latte, an NYT story about a depressed NY chef.


Then, the market. Madison’s own. Uncomfortably crowded at times, but still, it is The Market.

People say that at this stage, the market is too dominated by flower sales. What’s wrong with flower sales?



Besides, there's always music to love and adore. Right? What, you don't like bagpipes?


Next, a bike ride. I ask my biking pal Ed to think of a good loop, and he does. First we travel from Brooklyn to Albany. Because he knows I like New York. Then, onto local roads that remind me that this is… not New York.


Happy cows; rare to see this pastoral scene outside happy cow countries

Oh, and as it’s my birthday, I ask for an official photo.


A quick return to Madison. I am so ready for a Caribbean therapy session at Cameo (the Spa on the Square). You know, I should have guessed it would include a soak in a tub. But with changing lights? The name for this part of the spa treatment: chromotherapy. Really. (It felt like a nice long bath with lots of New Age music and rainforest sounds in the background.)


But the mud pack was grand and the essential oils of this and the other were fantastic.

With smooth and supple skin, I walk across the Square, where EVERY set of Capitol steps is occupied by women in white.


she's checking her rear, he's thinking -- can I stand being married?

Time for the movie, In the Land of Women. You have to know that I have been amused by Meg Ryan since her Sally, then Sleepless, then French Kiss roles. So this would be an acceptable step in the Meg run of films. Even though she is more credible in comedy confection than in a serious rendition of a mother-daughter struggle. Still, it’s nice to look at a big screen again.


And finally dinner. At Sardine. I truly think it deserves the crowds. There is something quite right about it. And, unlike the 297 restaurants in NY closed last week for health violations, to my knowledge, Sardine has no rats, roaches or mice droppings. It feels so fresh in there! Honestly.


Saturday, April 21, 2007


I call my occasional traveling companion, Ed.

It’s my birthday this Saturday!
I don’t do birthdays.
Yes, but I do birthdays and my family, who does birthdays oh so exceptionally well, is far away…
I wouldn’t know how to proceed.
I have it all figured out. I’ll send you the specs for the day.
Do I have to give you a present?
Birthdays, to me, are about doing stuff, not getting stuff. Still, if you feel so inspired…
I wont feel inspired. This is making me way too nervous.
It’s all in the mindset. Think: fun!

A birthday. On a week-end. With beautiful spring weather. I'm thinking: an early morning latte, a walk to the farmers market. A bike ride maybe. And then – the ultimate: a Caribbean wrap at a local spa. I’ve never done that. It seems very indulgent. Something you should maybe do only on a birthday.
Evening comes, a movie – of the Meg Ryan type – then dinner.

It used to be that I would cook dinner for a bunch of people on my birthday, but this has proven to be about the worst thing that I could put forth. Some people do not like big dinners. Other people do not like people at big dinners. Still others do not like to eat. Or cook. So it becomes a one way thing, where I am perennially the cook and people are either hating the food or each other or both. My dinner cooking days are in a sleep mode.

Ed’s line: every day is a special day.

Bullshit. Most every day is a work day or a chore day and quite likely a combination of the two.

A birthday. On a week-end. With beautiful spring weather. A day for guilt free leisure. So un-American. So me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

in the country

Late afternoon. The thermometer registers 70. I head out on my bike.

I have made my way through so much of the countryside just outside Madison and still, I am, each time, amazed how American it feels. And I mean this in an expansive way.

Three girls, sitting in the driveway, because it’s warm, school’s out, the week-end is here.


Three Hmong women, walking through a cornfield.


I ask them – are you looking to farm it? Yes, they say. They have heard this parcel may be available for the season. Do you want to grow things for the market? Oh no! We don’t know enough about farming. Just for home use.

Can you imagine the incredible determination behind this (potential) venture? Would you have it in you to take over a wetlands cornfield and make something of it for your family, just for the season?


A robin watches all this. He is unquestionably the marker of spring. Hey robin, do you simply observe, or can you tell me a thing or two about tomorrow?


Thursday, April 19, 2007


You take a balloon and you slowly let the air out. With a great sputter. And what you have left is a shrunken heap of rubber.

It sort of describes my day.

BUT. April is a month of change. Spring forward. Leap, bounce, alight.

So, give me a day. No more than that.

In the meanwhile, mind your eating habits and munch on some of these (as I did).


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Twenty years ago, I became an attorney. I stood in the courtroom of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and I swore to be a decent lawyer. I think that’s what I swore to. I was preoccupied then, worrying that my two little ones (in the audience) would make it through the event. Their dad was keeping tabs on them. We survived.

Today, I attended a swearing-in ceremony in the courtroom of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.


There is a tradition in this state. If you are a parent or a spouse of the soon-to-be attorney, you may choose to present her to the Court and swear to her good character.

I swore to my daughter’s good character as she took the attorney oath. (I deviated from the text. I swore, but additionally, I swore that her dad and sister would attest to her impeccable character as well. The Chief Justice looked at me and said (to paraphrase): that is surprising. The fact that her father would agree with you? Understandable. But that her sister would? Are you sure?)


Justice Butler spoke to the group of eighteen Wisconsin attorney wannabes. He talked of being a role model way back when judging a gumbo contest. He talked about loving food. I really warmed up to that. He and I chatted afterwards about our love of food.


At the close of the event, Chief Justice Abrahamson told my daughter that I was an okay mom. Wisconsin is that kind of a state. People say nice things about one another. Oh, but Chief Justice, do you have any idea of how wonderful my daughters are?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

let it be(e)

The colors of spring: yellow, sprouting from the green – nice.

Bees love it.


For some reason, this side of the ocean does not.

And I am also blameworthy. Hating to stand out that much in the Old Neighborhood, I would pick on my patch of May yellow, eliminating at least 25% of the perceived menace.

Now, downtown, I walk past buildings with patches of the unnatural deep green that is the commercial lawn and I see no yellow. Until finally, I notice a little patch, clearly overlooked by the sprayers and pickers.

The bee is happy (or at least busy).

I need go to my neighborhood flower shop to find that springtime yellow again. And it is there.

The proprietor asks me if I would like to relieve her of a batch of lemon tulips that she could never sell because of their incredible swoop. She is always giving me free flowers. She is like that.

Another rejected batch of yellow. She and I admire their beauty and then she wraps them up for me to take home.


Monday, April 16, 2007

the buzz

If the most important thing in your life is the making of honey and you live in Wisconsin, then you were in luck today. The opportunities began to present themselves and the weather was on your side.


For me, the buzz reverberated to other sectors, including to that of technology as I discovered the very real availability of the cell modem. Imagine: an Internet connections in all places where a cell phone can pick up a signal! Even in Europe! And, sit down for this one -- in France! So that I need no longer check into small b&b’s and ask if the owners perhaps have heard of le Internet, and if so, would they like to share? Imagine!


But perhaps the biggest buzz came as I finally placed my signature onto 589 pages attesting to the fact that I agree to the terms of condo ownership. The best part of the closing transaction? Arguably, finding out that within half a block of the condo, a café is to open. And its hours are to be set at: 6a.m. ‘til midnight.

In my town, this is exciting news.


Sunday, April 15, 2007


Bicycles are an enigma for me in many many ways, but, I am committed again to a (virtually) car-free spring summer and fall and so it was time to spring clean Mr. G and take him out for another run.

Out comes the de-greaser – a messy job of wiping down the chain, only to then fill it with grease again. I scrubbed down parts that seemed to profit from a spit and rub type cleaning. A shiny red bike, ready for the season.

So that I can huff and puff up hills and speed down again, with eyes glued to the road for any sort of menace that would cause me to go flying over the rails.

It can be scary stuff.

In the country, the first thing I do is ride to a coffee shop – ridiculous, I know.

I look for signs of spring at last, full force, a blooming type spring but it’s still too early. I live in a place where change happens typically on the eve of Earth Day – April 21st. I should know because I was born on April 21st and I have always found it fortuitous to be over the hump of winter by the time my marker of the next year and the next comes to pass.

In the meantime, three photos from my ride. I only snapped a half dozen, so there you have it. A shack, a road and another enigma. For you.




Saturday, April 14, 2007

done in by the Sad Liberals

What do the Canadian Rockies and Sad Liberals have in common? The two forces that caused me to skip a day of blogging.

Amazing. In the remote villages of Sicily, in Japanese ports and towns where I longed for WiFi in the same way a kid longs for candy, in the northwoods of Wisconsin and the deserts of Arizona – I would always find a moment and a connection, to put a sentence up on Ocean.

But yesterday stumped me. Right here, in Madison.

The day was taken over by condo crisis number 859. [The closing is on Monday, but never fear, I may disrupt everything and insist on a postponement – at the last minute, I read the latest loan disclosure statement and found a major misrepresentation. Or misunderstanding. Or something.]

And the evening? I biked back to the Old Neighborhood for a reunion of the Sad Liberals – a group that spontaneously came into existence on the eve of the last presidential election.

(The sadness is slowly lifted, as hope pokes through. See our faces? No more tears. And no, I don’t know where the men where hiding.)


Sure, I had my camera, and I paused in front of my previous home to see if the planted by my perennials were okay there without me. They were:


Then came the food, the wine, the games. And still, I left in good time to post. But it was unrealistic for me to bike the seven miles back to the loft and so I called for a ride back and promptly fell asleep in the truck that hauled me and my bike home.

Apparently, I could not be woken easily.

And the truck did not have WiFi anyway.

By the time some degree of mental alertness returned, it was past midnight and the moment to post had long passed.

So there you have it – done in by the Sad Liberals. If you’re on the other end of the political spectrum, you’re probably smirking. I admit it – had I not affiliated myself with that lot, I would have had a clean record here, on Ocean. With the exception of the Canadian Rockies. Blame Canada for that one. Yep, blame Canada and the liberals.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Just three days ago I was posting photos that were to acknowledge the beauty of Paris in April. I feel I ought to give equal time to my home town.

So, April in Madison (sad, isn't it?):


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I need say absolutely nothing. I took three photos today – here they are:

Wake up, look outside:


From my office, a poignant view of the struggles endured by determined students:


And after, the kind of scene that would make your heart swell – say around Christmastime?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007



It is the only photo that I took today, but what a story behind it! – my housing issues are resolved and I quickly shift toward planning the space I'll be moving into this summer.

Monday, April 09, 2007

April in Paris

An Easter Sunday afternoon. Such crowded streets! Open bakeries, pastry shops and the occasional store. Packed cafés and restaurants.

Play music, skate down the Boulevard St. Germain, kick a soccer ball around.

Lovers, friends, families, so much public display of affection! Paris, transformed into a stage for the presentation of love.

A four hour walk from one end of the Left Bank to the other and back again, covering the blocks between St. Michel and the Eiffel Tower, in search of whatever it is I am always in search of in Paris.

[On Monday I travel back to Madison. In the next three weeks, I have an insane amount of work to do, to get me to the end of this semester. I imagine that the term “pulling all nighters” will suddenly become part of my vocabulary, on a farily regular basis. In anticipation of this, let me warn that posts here will be very short. I do promise a sentence and a photo every day, to keep Ocean rolling, but that’s it. It will be an interesting challenge to come up with a one sentence/photo statement for each day. Until the third of May, when I break out of my self-imposed blogging limits. The semester ends then and I will be setting out on my great biking adventure.]

But that’s then. For now, in photos (chronologically), a Sunday walk in Paris. In April.

used books and scarves

café life

window reflections: Ocean author

music on St. Germain

skaters on St. Germain

reflections: a familiar tower

peeking through budding trees

April tulips

April in Paris

April in paris, close up

spring soccer on Les Invalides

evening sun, near the Odeon