Friday, December 28, 2012

8 states by car in 1 day!

 ...and not the upper NE, but Real-Sized states!

We made it through Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

I awoke at 4:30 AM, but didn't get up til 5:30, as planned. We were on the road by 6:30, and pulled into Raleigh between 12-1:00 AM. It was a long haul, but not terrible. I drove the first 12 hours.

The morning started out like heaven. Quiet muted baby colors. Snow and sunrise, surely the most beautiful sight. For hours, I watched out the window while Justin slept beside me.

 {IOWA, god's country}

The route:

View Larger Map

It's interesting to make a journey over and over again. Knowing the towns along the way, where to stop for coffee in Charleston is a good sort of familiarity. I've enjoyed learning these roads.

Thirty-seven degrees this morning felt balmy when I took Bailey out to go potty. Justin's happy to be home out east. Today after one night's reprieve in Raleigh, we'll return to the OBX.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Glühwein von Sara Schultz

I was thinking about what made Christmas feel like Christmas. It's quiet this year, three of us and the dog holding down the house in Iowa. Ice packed snow hides the grass and street.
We slip around town and back home again.

Two years in Germany imprinted Glühwein (Glow-wine) into my idea of holiday tradition, so I scoured the internet for a suitable recipe. They were not overly specific, and so I modified one hoping it would not taste horrid.

Surprisingly I think it may have turned out better than any I have tasted. This is a heavily modified recipe from Jamie Oliver.

Glühwein von Sara Schultz

·       2 clementines
·       100g  (½ cup) brown sugar
·       3 whole cloves
·       1 stick cinnamon
·       3 whole allspice
·       Grated nutmeg- about 5-6 shakes- whatever you feel like (can grate fresh also) - I like nutmeg, so I used more
·       1 bottle Merlot  (I used Left Coast Merlot- you don't need a fancy wine)

Peel clementines into large sections. Pour sugar into large saucepan over medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze the clementine juice over top. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, allspice and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup. This will create a wonderful flavor base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with the whole bottle of wine in there you'll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

Try not to get too hammered! It's hard to stop at one cup! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Wish upon a scar"

I fell last night. My mom spilled her tea on the carpet and her shoes. It was in slow motion and at first I thought I wouldn't get up. But in a fit of conscience I jumped up with my computer cord wrapped around my tennis shoe and caught on the leg of the footstool. I crashed into the hardwood floor, like an elephant falling down. 

"Jeez, you two are a spectacle!"  He said.

I said I was ok. No pain. Just embarrassment at my continual accident-prone, eternally dorky nature. I would never be graceful.

I pulled up my fleece pants and saw that my knee was damaged. Somehow a carpet nail had caught my knee and ripped through it straight down, revealing my inner flesh. Just a hint of red seeped out. I expected it would bleed much more.

They fussed about looking for something to hold it together. "It'll scar." I said, remembering my chin scar. Burning with embarrassment and regret at a bike accident which took place over eight years ago now. I was trying to protect my sister. I failed and ripped myself open in the process.

I rip myself over and over again. Trying to protect myself from the outside world. Trying to pretend that I am easy going and graceful and caring. Trying so hard to be good enough.

I wish I could be good enough as I am. Not as people want me to be. Or who I think I should be. Just as me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Is this heaven?"

"No, it's Iowa." That's what we think the dog's thinking since coming on this holiday to the Midwest. He has the run of the yard and the house. Kathy mothering him like he's an extra grandchild. I imagine the day we're to leave, he's going to wave goodbye to us at the door and stay with the lady who makes him organic scrambled eggs when we run out of dog food.

Rain is falling outside, strange for December in the Midwest. Of course I can't help but think of global warming when we have this weather, especially with the temperatures passing the seventy degree mark in the last couple of weeks. Balmy is not a word for Iowa in December.

Iowa folks are funny. They all think you know every tiny town in the state. The other night we were at a second hand store in Iowa City, and the girl told me she grew up in some little town that I didn't recognize, and then mentioned another tiny town I didn't know. I'd said already that I wasn't from Iowa and then said, "I could name hundreds of towns in North Dakota but I'm not that good at Iowa." She just went silent.

People are funny. Iowans are from Iowa for the most part and they are sort of dumb-founded when you don't know every street corner in the state. Not that they are not nice, but it is a funny thing. My mom told me that before about Iowans. I could pinpoint quite a lot of little towns in Iowa on a map, which I think is decent considering my feeble relationship with the state.

Still I am enjoying my time here. It took a while to slow down after the two hectic months of working and running around out east, but I've finally settled down and had time to mentally relax. It's a difficult thing, half-living out of your car for years at a time, living one place, working another, wondering where you belong, trying to make your life fit into another's, hoping everything makes sense.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Newbo Neighborhood

Yesterday I spent the afternoon wandering around a neighborhood of Cedar Rapids called "Newbo" for "New Bohemia"- an area which was heavily damaged during the 2008 flood. It was home to many of the oldest homes and buildings and to the Czech Village area, which has also since been somewhat rebuilt. In the two years that I've visited the area, the last six month interval has created the greatest expanse of cultural growth. Gorgeous restorations of old buildings preserving historic details create a naturally artistic atmosphere to house the new shops which have sprung up or relocated.

It's the buildings that frame the art, but it's the folks inside who make the place welcoming. Door after door, I wandered into another person who made the afternoon an experience rather than an observation. To describe Iowa: comfortable, simple, meandering and welcome.

Third Street Resale, a shop which has been around 10 years, but relocated from the CSPS building recently into this new updated old space. I found an old Viewmaster in here with slides of Chicago.
Third Street Resale
Best use of a chainring and crank!
You can work on your own bicycle for $5 an hour or have someone else do it for $100 per hour. I'm guessing they are trying to encourage bike self empowerment.
They have community action meetings in the neighborhood at a number of the stores in the neighborhood.
Metalworks in the Cherry Building
Kilns in the Cherry Building
Restored elevator in the Cherry Building
Cool old ceiling in this second hand shoppe
Inside the CSPS building
Beautiful artist Pieta Brown from Iowa City was on the over head speaker. She's playing at CSPS on January 18. "The world left me on my own. Not the first or the last."
View from the CSPS
House Rules
CSPS upstairs bar with view
Massive affinity for this view I had
Attention to detail
Art in the CSPS
I think little kids would love this. I did.
"The morning's sermon is ten millions raindrops falling on ten million leaves- the messages goes straight to the heart though not one word has been spoken."
Brewed Cafe makes a mean cappuccino
Brewed Cafe with Newbo Farmer's Market in the background
Craig Volesky, a Cedar Rapids artist on display at Brewed Cafe

A magical candy house from North Liberty:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where is winter?

We're in Iowa. All that snow up north and none for us. What a damn shame. I go to bed hoping for white stuff to come overnight and wake up to grass in the backyard. Tragic. Sixteen inches in Minneapolis- only four hours north!

This morning at the community center (where we go to exercise), I was lamenting the lack of snow with a fellow gym-goer. He'd asked where I was from and thought my affinity for the white stuff was due to my North Dakota roots. I told him Iowa was like Florida in comparison. I am kind of not kidding. For sure my snow-love is related to my childhood in the Midwest. Having four seasons is just natural. But Justin is relieved. However, he's never been sledding or skiing so maybe he's missing out.

Bailey has adapted to Iowa, and loves being spoiled by Grandma Kathy. She has taken a love to the pup. He comes in from outside frisky with energy from the cool, crisp weather. Today he even tried to sit on my lap. I've never seen him so happy.

We've been trying to decide when to return to the east coast, and the date is not set. The road is still not rebuilt to arrive on the island. They're hoping to reconstruct it by Christmas. Every few days I check the update on the NCDOT website to see how highway 12 is coming along. Weather problems have affected the rebuilding effort.

What 2013 holds is yet to be known.