Monday, October 31, 2011

Eerie Similarities

My dad and me about 26 years apart.
(At my mom's house in Iowa helping clean out the garage today, I found this in a box.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughtful post to share

A Voice From The 1% does a good job of addressing the questions raised surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement. I've walked by protests in action and they appeared to be quiet people, clean and tidy, but still I did not know what I thought. I have always believed that while I have made good choices in my life, there is little that separates me from someone who has much less in life but a few strokes of luck.

Our country is in a state of demise in many ways and these protests are putting the our economic inequalities into question. For this I am proud- of the American right to free speech and that we are able to effect changes in this country. No matter what happens or whose side we are on, there is success in being reminded of the democratic process, of speaking up when we believe things need to change, of starting the dialogue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Looking back to the south island of New Zealand when these guys tried to block our exit through the fence, I was with three other hostelers in a rented 1987ish manual jalopy mobile. Supposedly it was a big tourist site, but really just a few rocks in the countryside. However, we enjoyed the cow standoff. I've been enjoying the cows for years and years, since I first planted Father's Day flowers for my mom's rancher boyfriend in North Dakota, and little Henry the Calf came and ate them all. He was so cute and his mom had died... how could we get mad at him for that? These are also a few of my reasons to be vegetarian.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Boston Academy

Last week, the American Academy of Optometry held their annual conference in Boston. Since I'm currently living without commitments, I decided to head east less than a week before the conference commenced. I purchased a ticket out of Chicago on Spirit Airlines (a US budget carrier) and arranged to stay with my friend Xandra (Alexandra) who I met in the south island of New Zealand and now lives in Cambridge. It's a delight and surreal to re-meet people who I met on the road in their hometowns. On the road we are sort of floating about, so seeing someone indigenously helps to complete the picture of who they are.

The conference offered a wide variety of education and I surely benefited, picking up some new things and catching up on changes that have occurred in my profession during my last four years abroad. Also fun was seeing old friends and roommates from optometry school, a colleague from New Zealand, old professors, and making new friends. I was glad to go, and it's also good to be home.

Allston (below) is a suburb of Boston where Xandra and I had dinner. It's Portland-like with heaps of coffee shops, a few second hand stores, and vegetarian restaurants. I grabbed a bus there from the conference center to meet Xandra. Boston transport is very simple to figure out. I bought a one week unlimited fare pass for $15 on arrival, which covers all modes of transport in the metro area.

The last time I was here was when I was 14. My cousin Jenny and I would take the hotel shuttle down to this area, where we spent many hours shopping at Gap, which was something I did not have in North Dakota. The square looks the same but back then it seemed so amazing with possibility.
Inside Quincy Market.

Friday, October 14, 2011


"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
Falls drop by drop on the heart,
Until in our own despair,
Against our own will,
Comes wisdom
Through the awful grace of god."

Monday, October 10, 2011


My favorite song by the Head and the Heart:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Seventy-five miles south of Manitowac, where I lived from 1978-1981. Carrie was born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin because they wouldn't allow men in the delivery room in Manitowac in 1979.

Wisconsin looks like Germany. It's part of the reason I instantly adapted to German countryside; it felt like home. The hills clothed in multicolored leaves, churches peeking out above the trees, cool air swathing the hot, a premonition of winter to come. This year, the darkness of fall has stayed away.

Last weekend there was a concert by a Seattle band, the Head and the Heart at the historic Turner Ballroom in Milwaukee. We stayed at the Plaza Hotel, also a historic building, peaceful and retro, simply and accurately restored (or perhaps just very well kept up), and reasonable rates. The quiet of Milwaukee contrasts with Chicago's financial frenzied stressed population. It was a peaceful weekend.

Turner Ballroom was gorgeous and open, and the band amazing.
Resting in the grass along Milwaukee's biking and walking path. I've been so tired, and keep thinking that I'm going to have some time to rest soon. I realized that I've been on a non-stop pace since the end of March when I found out that my job was eliminated and I was on a crash course to move home. Of course, the traveling was self-inflicted pleasure & pain. Today I've been home for two months, and have not yet spent two weeks in one place. It's life on the road. I don't expect it to end anytime soon.
The Comet Cafe. Excellent food! Excellent coffee.
Surprisingly, I found tons of good tips in here. One always needs to practice self-improvement. Never stop learning! I don't intend to get old ever. (The book is The Encyclopedia of Immaturity.)
I shelled out muko bucks for new jeans. It's been about seven years since I bought a new pair of designer jeans. I like to practice delayed gratification so that I really appreciate my nice things.
Demonstrating the "mine and toss" technique. When you've bought too much ice cream and you can't eat it all, you are totally justified in mining out all the good sections and flicking the rest down the drain.
Holy Hill is a Cathedral Basilica in the countryside about 30 miles out of Milwaukee. The traffic to reach it was worse than anything I've seen in Chicago, and at the top we even sited tour buses. I tried to hide in the corner to cure my crowd phobia. But it was better just to go home!
We checked out the newly renovated Cheese Palace, after stopping last time the day before they closed for remodeling. I wanted to get one of the cheeseheads for Lily but they were not for sale, so a picture has to suffice. Next time I'll just take a picture of the Palace from the freeway and keep going. The place was swarming with people, and non-delicious samples for the second time in a row, so I'd have to rate this as a "no-go". Avoid!

Lastly, I'll mention Beans and Barley, a cafe and grocery store with hippie roots (though now very gentrified). For about a year, I've been hearing about their Tofu Scramber. I'm a big fan of tofu scramble: you can eat it alone, on top of salad, with bread, hot or cold. I like it all ways and it's quick and simple to make at home. A lot of restaurants will offer it, but drown it in oil and spices, so that later my stomach hates me. Beans and Barley makes a simple, savory version which I think would delight everyone's palate. I've found the recipe for it, so if you want to try it at home, you can savor the flavor without a trip to Milwaukee.


Source: Beans & Barley Market and Cafe, 1901 E. North Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1/4 C. tahini
1/4 C. shoyu
1 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
2 lb. firm tofu, drained, dried and coarsely crumbled
2 tsp. olive oil
2/3 C. sliced fresh mushrooms
2/3 C. diced tomato
2/3 C. chopped green onions
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Combine tahini, shoyu, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Add to crumbled tofu, being careful not to crumble tofu too fine.

Heat 12-inch nonstick or well-greased, skillet over medium heat. Add oil and sauté mushrooms until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green onions and cook for 1 minute.

Add tofu mixture and cook, scrambling occasionally, until some of it begins to brown a little. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: Serve with home-fried potatoes and toast. This dish is also good with corn bread, muffins or bagels.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interviews across America

I'm back in Iowa, after a tour around the states: Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Southern Minnesota, New Orleans, Seattle, Tacoma... looking for jobs and visiting family and friends.

It feels good to be home. Resting while looking toward the fields. Nary a car, just a big broad sky. Riding bicycles along the bike paths through the countryside and campus. I haven't rested for a long time. This long stretch of busyness started back when I found out that my job was over while still in Germany, and has persisted until now. I'm hoping to have some time to relax finally.

In the last month, I've been to a few job interviews. One with an ophthalmologist who never washed his hands once in about twenty patients (including an intraocular injection) and told his patient that her diabetes was "from God". Another was an optical shoppe where they had no medical equipment on hand, saying they were mostly retail side, and basically referred everything disease-related out. I visited a run-down VA hospital, with greyed walls and patients devoid of happiness, and filled with windowless rooms containing run-down equipment. There were a couple places which were delightful: one who I only visited in hopes of creating contact for a future job, and another which was a small clinic with only one ophthalmologist and one optometrist on staff. Only time will tell where I go. I am patient.