Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Goofin' at Laumeier

We don't visit Laumeier Sculpture Park very often so when we do go it's always a great adventure for us. We like finding our old favorite sculptures and love sizing up any new ones. Most recently, we went on a cold, rainy day.....obviously not the best weather for an outdoor activity but it was super fun nonetheless.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tilles Park Winter Wonderland

As a kid, I remember one of the holiday season's annual highlights was going to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville to look at all the holiday lights and visit the live nativity (a.k.a. petting zoo). Yes. Good times, good times. But, alas, those youthful memories went to the ol' storage unit in my head until this year when my own kid became old enough to be fully aware of all things Christmas, including holiday lights. So, in the spirit of the season, we drove out to Tilles Park to see the annual Winter Wonderland holiday light display.

I had anticipated hoping on Highway 40, pulling into the park, and driving slowly around the park without the company of a crowd. Boy, did I ever totally underestimated the interest in this kind of thing! We waited in line just to get into the park for at least 30 minutes. Once we entered the park, we drove around, looking at the light displays, for about 30 minutes - probably even less. Then it was all over. We paid our $9 and left for home. Disappointment? Yes, a little. But, for Willa, the lights were a huge source of entertainment and amazement. In fact, Willa enjoyed it so much that she cried almost all the way home while, between sobs, plotting the ways that she would get back there. And that made it all worthwhile.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sweet Art

Willa's 5th birthday is December 8th but we celebrated this past weekend. What I've learned about kids' birthday celebrations is that they are no small order, especially when it comes to baked goods. Last year, I drove out to Clayton's Bakery & Deli for the birthday goodies - 2 dozen cookies for school, 2 dozen cupcakes for the friends birthday party, and a cake to feed 15+ for the party with the relatives. Although the goodies were quite tasty I just couldn't bring myself to make the drive out to Des Peres again this year. I considered ordering from The Cakery again ~ they made our very tasty Wizard of Oz cupcakes and cake two years ago ~ but opted, instead, to order everything from Sweet Art on S. 39th Street. I had never tried it but had read some good things about the place so I figured, why not? Plus, it's in the neighborhood.

So, let's talk about why I like Sweet Art and why you should go there. First, the ingredients -- organic & local whenever possible. Love, love the commitment to unadulterated ingredients! Second, the baked goods are very, very good. We ordered 2 dozen frosted, flower-shaped sugar cookies, a dozen vanilla cupcakes with pink butter cream frosting, a dozen chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and, finally, a "Best of Both Worlds" cake - a cake with alternate layers of chocolate and vanilla held together and topped with chocolate butter cream frosting. Yes, yes, yes! All very tasty, very delightful, made from scratch products. Third, the place has an awesome vibe. It's the kind of place that, from the moment you walk in, it envelops and you become part of the surroundings - the warmth, the sounds, the sights, the smells. Very nice. Very chill. Very telling.

The bad news? The service was just okay. The staff offered no assistance in helping me to plan my order for the party (Fortunately, I had a vague idea of what I wanted when I went in ~ they do have a great website ~ but having had some additional suggestions would have been nice) and the counter service was super, super slow (I'm not expecting drive-thru service but jeez! The owner just stood there, seemingly irritated & disinterested in my situation as I waited and waited, and did nothing to assist the lost person at the counter waiting on me). Bottom line: If I had come in to buy a $3.00 cupcake, I would have lived with $3.00 customer service. But, because I spent some time making the decision to buy here and I spent a lot of my hard-earned money shopping here, I guess I expected a little more effort on their part.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wolf Howl

Willa and Evan at the Campfire Wolf Howl. Photo Courtesy of Morton-Holden.

St Louis is fortunate to be the home of the Wolf Sanctuary - a.k.a. the Wild Canid Center. Located near Highway 44 & Antire Road at the Tyson Research Center, the Wolf Santuary is the country's most successful canid conservation, education, reproduction and research center. Although the Sanctuary has limited daytime visiting hours they do offer a fairly regular evening opportunity for folks to come out and participate in a campfire wolf howl. Here's how it works: Basically, you make your reservation in advance, pay 10 bucks, and drive out to the center around 7pm. You hang out in the main entrance while the rest of the group arrives and then head down to the campfire area around 7:30pm. The program starts with a fireside chat, the purpose of which is to dispel myths and falsehoods about wolves. Ours was led by the education coordinator and her sidekick, a gruff-voiced, semi-sarcastic but well-meaning curmudgeon type of guy. The program was loosely strung and, while clearly designed for kids, was full of some interesting facts and lighthearted humor. At this point, you're warned, again, that the wolves do their own thing ~ meaning that they may or may not at the end of the night when you walk to the enclosures for a little howl and response. On our particular night, last Wednesday, the wolves did howl briefly during the ed program but not at all at the enclosures. On the way back, the crowd visit the gift shop (a really cool WWII bunker that stored ammunition) for hot chocolate, cookies, and, of course, purchases! Overall, it was a fun night, especially for the youngsters. And, even though we couldn't get those wolves to howl for us, the money went to a great cause.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meditation Retreat

Photos Courtesy of MABA

About an hour from St Louis, in Augusta, MO, is the Mid-America Buddhist Association (MABA). Every Sunday, they offer very interesting sounding programs followed by (what I assumed would be) a really tasty vegetarian pot-luck style lunch. I'd always wanted to drive out for one of the programs but never managed to actually do it until last weekend. Starting on Friday and ending Sunday, MABA held a mediation retreat based on the concepts of metta -- a Pali term meaning loving-kindness -- and karuna -- compassion. This was a casual retreat, meaning that you could stay all weekend or you could just pop in on any one of the days, so I only went for Saturday's activities. The schedule was basically a day-long repeated cycle of dharma talk, meditation, walking meditation, and exercise (walk or yoga) with a delicious vegetarian lunch at noon. And, before I write anything else, I have stop here and say -- OMG! What those little Buddhist ladies can do with soy! Anyway, it was a lovely day but much harder physically and mentally than I would have ever thought. But, it felt really good to leave with a sense of having achieved a mindfulness that I hadn't had when I walked in through the door.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

During a recent PD lunch with friends, I mentioned that I was reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I spoke a little about the book -- An outwardly popular and successful couple livin' in the burbs whose lives crumble horribly when they realize that their lives (as individuals, as a couple, as parents) aren't extraordinary, that, in fact, they're dull, unfulfilled, and false. One of my friends commented that she disliked books in which the characters or the situations made her feel awkwardly or psychologically uncomfortable. I agreed. But, later, as I continued reading Yates' book, I realized that don't dislike that feeling. Nope, not at all. In fact, it's quite the contrary -- I actually LOVE that uncomfortable feeling! And, many of the books that I've loved best have made me uncomfortable. The best popular example that gives off this feeling that I can think of right now is the play/movie Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The characters in Virginia, as well as Revolutionary Road, are passionate, flawed, desperate, selfish, mean, illogical, vulnerable. And, the thing is you want to look away from them, you want to feel different from them, you want to hate them. But, unfortunately, you can't because, at some level, you can relate to them and their neuroses, you see a bit of yourself in them. Hopefully, you get what I mean. And, if you do and you like what I'm talking about, then Revolutionary Road is a good read for you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

That's Entertainment

I've never been one to go to the movie theater very often but, at one time, I used to rent and watch movies pretty regularly. Over the years, though, I lost interest -- which is why I never have a clue about new movies. I'm the loser at the annual Oscar Party who's never seen or probably never heard of any of the nominees -- unless they were a book first then my odds increase on the latter. Anyway, I have seen a few movies recently that I thought we worth mentioning.

First, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's pretty old now but it's an awesome movie with a very, very awesome soundtrack which you gotta buy.

Second, Coraline which is recently out on DVD. We saw the trailer for this movie in the theater (seeing what I cannot remember now) and it looked very good. And Coraline was good but not as good as I had hoped it would be. But, it is still definitely worth seeing.

And, lastly, Where the Wild Things Are. Super great movie for older kids and, especially, adults. We took Willa, who's almost 5, and she liked it but, I think, found it #1 over her head at times, #2 frightening at times, and #3 a movie that is more appealing to boys. Again, the soundtrack is super awesome and I highly recommend buying it. I already have.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Look who stopped by....It's Little Orphan Annie, Daddy Warbucks, and Sandy!

"The sun'll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom that tomorrow......"

Bill's handiwork

Willa at the Pumpkin Patch

Here are a few photos from the Autumn season from the Henske house. I love this time of the year and can't wait to get out and enjoy it some more!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lil' Buddha

I've written before about our cats, Bernice and Four (a.k.a Lil' Man). When it comes to our cats, I have a BIG ol' case of the I love ems' but I can't stand ems'. One of these days, when I don't have Barbies to play with, lesson plans to write, errands to run, and laundry to do, I'll tell you the tale of how we came to share our house with these two great big lovable pains in the arse. In the meantime, he's Lil' Man giving his best impression of Buddha.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Book Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Gist:
After his friend Michael commits suicide, Charlie, a typical angst-ridden teen, begins writing very intimate, very therapeutic, letters to an anonymous person only addressed in the salutation as "Dear Friend". With each letter, Charlie begins to realize that after almost a lifetime of isolation it is possible to "participate" in life.

Side Note:
This is an MTV advertised, hipster novel so it is edgier than I've lead on here in this review. And, yes, it's target audience in the YA (young adult). But who isn't young at heart?

Bottom Line:
It's a great, quick read, reminiscent, at times, of My So-Called Life. If you liked the show and you like poignant, emo coming of age tales, this is a definite must read.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Polish Festival 2009

Despite having had some big plans laid out for last weekend, the only thing that we managed to do was to get to the Polish Festival. I was looking forward to going this year because we hadn't been for a couple of years. The highlight of the festival is always the food, which was as good this time as I had remembered it being -- Polish sausage, Cabbage rolls, Pierogi, pastries. Yum. As for the rest, well, let's just say that time has stood still, somewhere between the 1950's and 1970's, for a lot of the Polish Festival patrons. I think that the picture illustrates my general point. And, yes, you've read it correctly -- the name of this one-man-band, whose possible prejudices I am unaware of, is the Honky Express.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review: I'm Down by Mishna Wolff

Here's the gist of I'm Down by Mishna Wolff -- Mishna, who is white, grows up in a poor, all black neighborhood where she lives with her Dad (who is also white but has assumed the culture of the neighborhood), Step-Mom (who is black), and siblings (white and black). Although I'm purposely leaving out a lot of the story here, I'm Down is a coming of age memoir that recounts the author's story of survival, seeking her Dad's approval, and, ultimately, discovering her place in the world.

I'm Down
definitely has it's laugh-out-loud moments, especially early on. In fact, had Wolff's book had been written in the 1970's, it might have been made into a sitcom -- probably in the genre of Welcome Back Kotter, Good Times, What's Happening!, etc. but with a dash of Roseanne (or any other working class white family sitcom/drama) Yeah, it is that funny at times but then there's that, you know, stereotyping stuff. Hmm. But, luckily, there's more than that too -- real pain and sadness juxtaposed with self-discovery and hope. My grade = B/B-

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

I've not ever not liked a Sarah Vowell book. In fact, I think it's physically impossible to not like her writings. I mean, come on, how could anyone not find her to be a wickedly entertaining, keenly observant, dry humored, gifted writer of history, art, and pop culture? Okay, okay. So I have a little bit of a Sarah Vowell obsession. But, it's only because I just know if we were to meet in real life we would be B.F.F. Yes, B.F.F. & E. Seriously!

Anyway, S.V. obsession aside, Assassination Vacation is another great Vowell book. In Vacation, Vowell writes, with the aforementioned qualities, about the assassinations of presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. While I've never been a big fan of presidential history (one can only read so many white-European male centered presidential stories before they all start sounding alike) - there are many writers out there, Vowell included, that have made an otherwise boring, narrow P.O.V. history exponentially more interesting and accessible. Bottom Line? Read the book, learn something new, and be entertained while you do it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Abigail Washburn

In July of 2008, we went to Madeline Island (Apostle Islands, WI) on vacation. Nice vacay but there were definitely too many moments when I expected midwestern Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey to pop out from around some random corner singing "I Had the Time of My Life" (See this here and here if you are lost). Incidentally, we had a similar experience about four years ago while vacationing in Door County (also WI - do I detect a theme?). Anyway, one of the things that we did while on Madeline Island was take the ferry over to Ashland, WI and catch Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet at Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua. It was a great show and I've since become a big fan of both Abigail and Ben Sollee.

So, not too long ago, in May, I was really excited about a story that I heard on NPR about how Abigail had teamed up with the Shanghai Restoration Project to record an album, Afterquake, that would benefit victims of the May 12, 2008 earthquake that devastated Sichuan province in China. I found the music to be immediately interesting and, despite the somber cause, pretty catchy -- or maybe should I say memorable. It definitely stuck in my head in the weeks that followed so I decided to put it on my wish list -- where it stayed there until this weekend when I finally bought it. It's not in my hot little hands yet, but thanks to my Dad, His Most Royal Highness of Amazon Shopping, I get free 2-day shipping so it should be by tomorrow. Hopefully, the music is as great as I remember but, at the very least, the money went to a worthy cause.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Beaucoup to Do in the Lou 2009

Willa at Eckert's, October 2007

Personally, I think one of the worst things about living in St Louis is the summer weather. It's far too hot and humid for my taste. Weather aside though, St Louis is a pretty great place to live. We have some of the best neighborhoods, restaurants, and cultural attractions around. But, one of my very favorite things about living in St Louis is all of the festivals and seasonal events that take place. Although many of these are in the summer, the ones that I most like to go occur now -- from late August/Labor Day-- and run through the winter. I mark the start of this festival/seasonal events season by attending the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park, usually the weekend before Labor Day, and I end it, usually, by eagle watching along the bluffs.

Most of the things that I'm likely to do occur in September and October but things usually run through January. Here is a off-the-top-of-my-head list of the things that I'm hoping to do this year. Since I can't go to all of them, you'll know which ones I made it to this year by the blogging/photographing that I post/do. Oh, if you have a favorite event that's not listed, drop me a line and I'll put it up too.

Festival of Nations/International Festival (over)
The Greek Festival (today is the last day)
The 6th Annual Maplewood Dog Swim, September 11th, 4pm @ Maplewood Aquatic Center
Art Outside, September 11th - 13th @ Bottleworks
The 35th Annual Polish Festival, September 11th - 12th @ The Polish Falcons
The 16th Annual Saint Louis Art Fair, September 11th - 13th in Clayton, MO
St Louis Hispanic Festival, September 11th - 13th @ Soldiers Memorial
Samba in the City, September 12th @ Benton Park
Strange Folk Festival, September 26th - 27th @ O'Fallon Park, IL
Ottertoberfest, September 26th - 27th/October 3rd - 4th/October 10th -11th @ St Louis Zoo
Taste of St Louis, October 2nd - 4th @ Soldiers Memorial
Shaw Art Fair, October 3rd - 4th @ Shaw Neighborhood
Best of Missouri Festival, October 3rd - 4th @ Missouri Botanical Garden
Soulard Oktoberfest, October 9th - 11th @ Soulard Market at 8th & Lafayette Street
Columbus Day Parade & Festival, October 11th @ The Hill Neighborhood
Boo at the Zoo, October 16th - 30th @ St Louis Zoo
Apple Butter Festival, October 24th - 25th in Kimmswick, MO
Wild Lights, November 27th - December 30th @ St Louis Zoo
Harvest Festival @ Shaw Nature Reserve
Eckert's Farms in Belleville, Millstadt, and Grafton, IL
Eagle Watching along the Bluffs @ Alton/Grafton, IL

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Rant

This blog, while sometimes I regret that it's not, was never intended to be any of the following:
A political blog
An educational blog (as in pedagogy)
A soapbox
A springboard to fame

This blog was supposed to be:
A creative outlet
A relaxation tool

However, I have a few things (rants) to get off my chest.
1. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: Political opinions and drama and feasibility aside, this is what really bothers me about the opposition to universal health care: Opposition to Health Care for All = Opposition to Life. Opposition to Health Care for All = (Certain Undesirable) People are Disposable.

2. THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECH ON EDUCATION: Again, politics and drama aside, when is the last time public schools (or TV networks - that's another blog) refused to show a president's speech? And, no less, a president's speech on the importance of staying in school and committing to your own education? Hello? Do we have no respect for the office of the presidency? Or, do we have no respect for the presidency of a black man? Certainly, a lot of what Bush had to say wasn't popular (or intelligible) but Democrats and liberals weren't calling for schools to boycott him (or disrupting town hall meetings on health care by bullying a women in a wheelchair). Maybe the biggest flaw with Dem's and Lib's is that they're just too damn mannerly and polite. I cannot understand why conservatives, let's call them Patriots, would insist on disrespecting the office of the presidency? How unpatriotic!

3. PARENT ENABLERS: As a teacher, I see lots of kids skirting the rules or dodging consequences because of their enabling parents. I'm not talking about advocating for children - totally different circumstances. But bailing your kid out when they got their cell phone taken for answering your call/text during class? Wrong! Bottom line, your (unhealthy, codependent) personal need to have control of every aspect of your child's life should not come at the cost of teaching them the importance of personal responsibility and accountability.

4. READERS COMMENTS ON MEDIA WEBSITES: My latest obsession is reading the comments' left by readers on various newspaper and new station websites. I'm not talking about reading one or two comments, or even a page or two of comments. No. I'm talking about reading EVERY page of comments -- all ### of them! I'm not sure why I do it but it is definitely a sickness. And what I've found is that certain media outlets are more sensible than others. I may not agree with everything that I read but I can understand it, objectively consider it, and come to conclusions calmly about most readers comments. Okay, maybe I get a little angry. But the lower down I go on the media chain, the more convinced that I become that I'm having a stroke. Now, I support democracy, the constitution, and individual expression but there are a lot of ignorant, cruel, illogical, uneducated, racist, and selfish people out there and, apparently, they have computers with internet access. And, even worse, they might vote! Call me crazy (or elitist) but I'm not sure that I like that.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Shaved Duck

A couple of Fridays ago, Bill and I met Dona and Paul for dinner at The Shaved Duck. I'm not a fan of duck but I did see alternate options on the online menu that looked pretty tasty. Plus, I'd been really wanting to check this place out -- first when it was called Pestalozzi Place (I think that was the name -- or something like that) and now as The Shaved Duck.

Bill ordered the Pork Tenderloin which he described as being "good, but not the best ever." I ordered the Beef Brisket which while having an excellent flavor was really very dry. I had to improvise by putting my cole slaw on the sandwich to give it some moisture. Not a bad quick fix to the problem but, as a customer, I shouldn't have to work so hard to be creative. I also ordered a Caesar Salad which was very tasty -- their secret? Homemade corn bread croutons. Yum.

So would I go again? Yes. For a few reasons. One, it's in the neighborhood and supporting local businesses is important to me. Two, the food was decent and worth another try. Third, I enjoyed the ambiance. I recommend going to the bathroom for a surprise -- a fully loaded beauty tray. I tried the hairspray.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Visiting City Garden

We finally visited City Garden a couple of weeks ago. While I didn't get to explore and appreciate the art as much as I would have liked to -- my tour guide was an impatient, swimming-suit wearing 4-year old named Willa -- I was still impressed. For those of you who don't consider yourself an art buff, I say no fear! The sculptures here are very accessible -- they are easily and straight-forwardly interpreted, they have a broad asthetic appeal, and, for those of you in the kinesthetic crowd, using and touching is encouraged! If you haven't had a chance to get to the City Garden, I highly recommend it. We had a great time. It was especially awesome to be a part of a big, happy, eclectic crowd of people enjoying friends, family, and art on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Lucky, A Memoir by Alice Sebold

I was introduced to the work of author Alice Sebold when I read her book, The Lovely Bones. And while it's been quite some time since I read Bones, I remember it being very beautifully written, ethereal despite its horrific subject (the rape and murder of a young girl). I didn't realize during the time that I was reading Bones that Sebold is a rape survivor. Her memoir, Lucky, is an account of that rape.

Sebold's memoir begins where the story does, the night of her rape. Her words, like the rapist's actions, are powerful, graphic, and violent. Yet, the rape is only the beginning of the story – the introduction. The rest of the book is spent dealing with the aftermath of rape and trying to find a way to recover.

So, what to make of this book? Well, it ain't no Bones. The writing style is drastically different. Where as Bones drew you in and filled you with emotion and a sense of optimism Lucky was detached, devoid of emotion, and, surprisingly, dull. Okay, so I'm not well read in the rape-memoir genre. And, yes, I realize it’s a grim subject. But, if you really want to read a rape survivor’s memoir, I suspect that there are much better ones out there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Awhile ago, I bought two books by author Junot Diaz -- Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I started with Drown, twice, but I never really got into it. Then, I mostly forgot about both books until recently. This time I picked up Oscar Wao. And, I'm glad that I did.

Through the book's narrator, Yunior, we are introduced to Oscar, an affable urban DR variation of Ignatius J. Reilly (The Confederacy of Dunces). Yunior, who is also a character in Drown, becomes a sort of keeper of Oscar, both during and after his life. An eventual friend whose devotion to Oscar is evident in the care that he takes in describing him, exposing him, explaining him, remembering him. And while Oscar's life is mostly a solitary one, his story is not. It weaves in and out, layer upon layer, from New Jersey to the DR and back and forth again, connecting him to his family, his friends, and, ultimately, his history -- the ancestral fuku ("the curse") -- that continues to haunt Oscar and the other characters in the story.

The book is an amazing piece of fiction yet it also informs us about the complexities of intimacy, identity, homeland, and oppression. Because of this, it's hard not to get quickly absorbed into Oscar's world and feel compelled by Diaz's rich characters and their stories. No wonder this book won both the highly coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Fountain on Locust

Bill and Willa and a Strawberry Fountain Soda

Bill and Willa and a Strawberry Soda, take 2

Bill had to go to New York this week for an environmental sustainability conference so we decided that we'd go out for dinner on Saturday night -- his choice since he was the one leaving. He picked The Fountain on Locust. It's located on Locust Street, east of SLU, in historic Automotive Row. The interior is casual, yet artistically sophisiticated -- a lovely art deco, soda fountain-ish decor. Maybe that why it claims to be St. Louis's most photographed restaurant. The menu consists mainly of soups, salads, and sandwiches and a variety of handmade delectable ice cream and chocolate treats for dessert -- think a newer, more upscale take on Crown Candy. Can I mention that I LOVE Crown Candy? Yes, I think that I can. That gloriously positive post is for a different day. Just to be clear though, I did like The Fountain. Even a lot. The food was good (Bill and I both ordered the hot roast beef melt with the St Louis salad and Willa ate the cheese foccaicia pizza. We followed with a banana split and a hot fudge/hot caramel sundae) as was the service and the location. I'd definitely go again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Onesto Pizza and Trattoria

Onesto Pizza and Trattoria had come up in recent conversations that I've had with people about restaurants that they wanted to try. An upcoming dinner date with my friend Laura provided me the perfect opportunity to give Onesto a try. Beforehand, not having met anyone who had actually been there, I went straight to my source for all things restaurant in the St Louis area, Sauce Magazine. I didn't read any reviews but I did scope out the menu which looked promising for a causal dinner or lunch. Laura and I planned an early dinner tonight so we arrived before the mad rush. And, it was a full house by 6:30 -- both inside and out on the patio. The wait staff was very friendly and, initially, very attentive but that waned as the restaurant became more and more crowded -- but I never felt totally neglected. Our order was place, salads were brought out, followed by the pizza that we had ordered. The Caesar, sans chicken (i HATE chicken), was very good -- just the perfect amount of all things Caesar. The pizza was hot and tasty with a sauce that was especially catchy -- not too tart, not too sweet (but definitely more on the sweet side). Overall - good food, good atmosphere, good time. I left feeling that another visit would be in order soon (calzone, here I come!).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Arrested Development

Summer vacation is a good time for me to catch up on the things that I didn't have the time to do during the school year. For me, it's a little TV watching. Not new TV shows or even really TV at all. Just one or many episodes of TV shows that I #1 missed during the year, #2 was curious about but didn't want to invest in at the time, or #3 TV shows that I miss because they aren't on anymore. This summer it's reason number 3 and the series is Arrested Development. AD was a critics darling that never got the following that it was due. I still can't figure out why people didn't watch it -- it's a phenomenal show-- well cast, well written, and well worth your time. And, I should mention it is HILARIOUS! So, I suggest that you order it up on Netflix, pop some popcorn, and watch all three seasons in one sitting. Trust me, it's time well spent.

Friday, July 03, 2009

City Garden

I haven't been yet -- maybe I'll get some time this week -- but City Garden looks awesome! It's just what we needed downtown. Can't wait to check it out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride Fest 2009

It's that time of year again! Pride Fest! Although we don't generally stick around too long for the actual 'fest', we like going to the parade to show our support and grab some beads and other parade-freebies. Normally, we don't get moving fast enough to get a good spot but this year, with the nice weather, we packed up the water bottles and camp chairs and arrived early. And, we got a sweet spot -- street-side near the northwest corner of Grand and Arsenal. Or, so we thought until we realized that somebody brought a crazy lady to the parade and stood her right behind us. She complained the audibly the ENTIRE time -- about something, about nothing, and about everything else in between! Mostly though, here complaints involved not being able to see. Now, I might have been more compassionate had she been nice about all of this but she was not. So I ignored her as did everyone else in our vicinity. Eventually, she must have even started embarrassing the people who brought her because they started hushing her. I was tempted to turn around and take a look at her, maybe even remind her about parade and public etiquette but before I decided the wind intervened -- divine? karma? I'm not sure. But what I can tell you is that the tent canopy behind us suddenly took flight and clocked her in the back of the head. Her complaining finally stopped but, unfortunately, it was only because she began yelling at the people with the tent. That eventually stopped too but, by that time, she had walked far enough away from us that we could no longer hear her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review: Death in Yellowstone, Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park by Lee H. Whittlesey

Yes, more on Yellowstone. I'll move on soon. I promise.

No mystery what the book is about; the title says it all. However, word of caution: If you're hoping for a Faces of Death account of death in Yellowstone, this isn't your book. But, if you'd like a tastefully written, historical recounting of the various ways in which people have died in Yellowstone in the last 100 years, then Whittlesey's book IS for you. Lots of interesting information, lots of common sense reminders about life in the the wilderness. Whittlesey says it best:

"While appreciating its (nature) wholeness, we must never abandon a healthy respect for wilderness. Wilderness is impersonal. It does not care whether you live or die. It does not care how much you love it. So while we are loving the Yellowstone wilderness, while we play in it, indeed revel in it, taking it on its own terms and helping to protect it, we foolish mortals must always remember to respect it. For not only can it bite us, but, indeed, it can devour us."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yellowstone and Teton Vacation 2009

This was an awesome vacation. And I mean that in all sincerity. Going to Yellowstone is all about extreme ranges. Look at this data from our trip. We experienced all of them in 9 days within the boundaries of both Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Weather: Snow, Sleet, Rain, Fog, Overcast, Crystal-Clear Sunshine
Temperature: Cold, Cool, Warm
Flora: Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, Yellow Monkey Flower, Spring Beauty
Fauna: Bison, Bears, Elk, Marmot, Ground Squirrels, Chipmunks, Dung Beetles
Lodging: Historic & Commercial Inns & Hotels, Rustic Cabins, Campgrounds
Congested: Mammoth Main Entry, Old Faithful Area, Other Visitor Centers, Little Used Trails

Extreme ranges. Most definitely. Most definitely awesome. My final word: Go to Yellowstone! I would encourage you to go in June too. The guide book say that in Yellowstone there's July, August, and Winter. I say phooey! Go in June! Avoid the crowds (I hear it's bumper to bumper within the park by July) and the heat and more predictable weather. You can find more of our vacation photos by clicking here.