Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Notes on Departure

Back during the spring my parents gave away our last miniature horse to our good family friends.

Did you know that we used to have a farm of miniature horses?  Probably not.  My parents used to breed horses and one of my sister's and I participated in horse showing.  I have all the trophies in my room still and last winter I purged a garbage bag full of my old ribbons, but at one point we had 20 minis!  When we moved we downsized to 6 and it's been on the downward slide ever since.  With my departure to college, I finally resigned and accepted that it would be best if we sold our last miniature, my show horse named Targetina (Tina for short).  We actually gave her away to some friends, because she's not in her prime for showing anymore and we know she'll have the proper amount of attention and love.

Last week we went to visit Tina at her new home.  Our friends live amongst fields of corn and cows, but they're in fact quite endowed with a lovely farm.  I don't know too many farmers, though the ones I do I truly admire.  They're very down to earth; they have a deeper compassion for the world to live in and people, creatures and land they care for.
She looks thrilled, right?
Oh, and don't call them ponies.  Different breed.
I'm sorry if this appears to be animal torture; I promise I only turned on the flash for a few shots.
I'll admit, I harbor some guilt for taking for granted my life with miniature horses.  But I also believe it's one of those things you should fully invest yourself in -- or not.  I believe this was the best choice for Tina and my family, because raising horses is a pretty expensive lifestyle.
Our friends also have a full-sized horse named Buddy, and a previous mini they bought from us named Comet.  And here a few more farm shots:

After that visit, we drove back to modernization because my mom was insistent upon purchasing an elegant outfit for my trip.  While I'm in France, my program director made reservations for an opera in Paris! Oh, what to wear.
Hopefully this is classy enough, and I figured the cocktail length will translate if I ever wore it at a school function.  Photos courtesy of my Pops :).


In other news, my friend Eamon was nonexistent in my life this summer because he decided to live in Philadelphia and work at his school.  Then he came back last week and had us over one night to celebrate his birthday.  It was so long since I had been at his house!  His mom chatted us up as she gardened and his dad made these delicious grilled and roasted ribs and homemade macaroni and cheese.  No pictures this time, but the amount of ribs I ate sufficed my meat intake for the rest of the month (I've been pseudo-vegetarian this summer :B).
And then, he left. 
He was home for 7 days.
Umm.. nice to see you, Eamon?
In spite of my sarcasm, I'm happy he's found life beyond our bubble.


And now I present :
How to Pack 4 Months of Your Life
in a 28 inch suitcase, a 16 inch carry on and backpack.
(without losing sanity or feeling naked and dreadfully unprepared) 

Demure, versatile, light-fabrics to accessorize with outrageous and pretty patterns.

Several dresses and tunics, because they pack easily and they you don't have to worry about bottoms.  I have a pack of tights, leggings and stockings coming with me.

Some "American" clothes (Adidas shorts and tye-dye and concert t-shirts to workout and be sweaty in),
shirts I won't mind re-wearing for 16(!) weeks,
3 sweaters that'll keep me warm at least through autumn,
my rings and XC/Senior necklace that I wear everyday,
3 pairs of jeans,
a pea coat (that's weighing down my suitcase), a lighter coat that can be layered beneath the pea coat and a blazer,
some tank tops,
and gifts for my 2 host families : travel guides about New York, local buckwheat flower honey, brass ornaments from my town and Reese's cups.  I hope they like peanut butter.

SO yes, my outfits will be redundant.  I honestly, really worked with the mindset of minimalism, but there still seems to be a lot of stuff.  I didn't post a picture of my shoes because I was still mulling over which ones to take and leave behind.  Guys have it easy, I needed (heh.. debatable) shoes that were appropriate for any possible scenario.  I'm bringing 6 pairs that include tall boots, short boots (those ones from my thrifting post that'll be my main go-to), moccasins (les Francais wear slippers in the house), sandals (for the shower and Africa), running trainers (you never know) and the heels that I wore in my dress photos.  I took out my ballet flats because those are one thing I plan on purchasing, yet I can't go day to day wearing those everywhere.. my feet aren't supported enough.
And this morning's grand weigh-in :
45 pounds for the suitcase
24 pounds for the carry-on

It could be worse!!!  The backpack will hold my laptop and important documents, so who knows.  I have to reduce some more weight from the carry-on because this Irish airline we're flying through have significantly lighter standards than the U.S. airlines.  Typical, right?  Our nation's rally of go big or go home, manifested in luggage limits.

In closing, I solemnly swear I will not be going on a hiatus because now I have friends and family relying on me to live vicariously!  I truly appreciate all of your well-wishes and I'll do my best to keep up with your posts, too.  My flight to JFK leaves tomorrow morning.  IT'S ALL HAPPENING.  

Listening: "You Are a Tourist" by Death Cab for Cutie
p.s. I hope my friends at school are all settled in comfortably and had a fantastic first day of classes.  It's really odd not returning to campus, but I'll be back before we know it.  I miss you all and wish you the best fall semester! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Last Weekend's Roundup

I spent last weekend with some of my closest friends from school.

Justin was utterly generous to come via bus and train to Rochester from Maine to stay a few nights at my house.  He showered me with gifts of the Avett Brothers CDs, blueberry jam, blueberry syrup and blueberry honey (blueberries are, apparently, a Maine thing).  Saturday we went to the Rochester Public Market, which was voted as the best in the country!  It was actually my first time visiting too because I live pretty far from the city to begin with.  Jenny, another friend from school, took us there with her mom and showed us the ropes!

Checking melon densities :)
 If you're from the Greater Rochester region, or even New York State in general, you're obviously familiar with the Erie Canal which is hailed in our elementary educations from first grade onward (remember the song?!).  For those of you who don't know as much, it's the revolutionary waterway opened in 1825 that connects the Great Lakes from Buffalo to the Hudson River in Albany.  Expedited travel and trade ensued; today, commercial travel, recreation and tourism at the various canal towns is frequent.
Jenny's mom asked one of the lock operators if we could watch him in action.  Haha, it wasn't that mind blowing, but you had to appreciate the ingenuity because the locks change water levels and keeps boats moving through the different elevations in the canal (there's 36 total).
And then we came back to my house in the countryside and plated a beautiful dinner on the back porch after a team effort in the kitchen.  The Menu:
Grilled shrimp with a lemon, honey and mustard vinaigrette
Grilled chicken
Grilled summer squash and zucchini
Sweet potato fries (that didn't exactly crisp), finished with cinnamon sugar
Italian pasta salad
Couscous salad that had raw sunflower seeds, craisins, cucumbers and a multi-cheese blend
And for dessert, a homemade peach pie that we brought from Jenny's house!!!
there were sooooo many leftovers...
On Sunday Justin and I went back into Rochester to the George Eastman House (the man who founded Kodak, basically the Henry Ford of photography and huge proprietor of Rochester). We went for the Norman Rockwell exhibit that was quite impressive, though the gardens ended up being off limits because a monsoon/typhoon was raging through Western New York that day. When I had called my mom, she was panicking about the flash floods on the thruway and the water coming over car tops-- hahaha.
Fortunately for us, we made it a few streets down to the East End of Rochester to Java's Cafe.  I have friend who attends Rochester Institute of Technology, where they have a Java's on campus.  There is also one at the Roc. Public Market, but I was adamant to visit the first location, which is across from the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.  The Cafe is low-lit with an off-beat ambience; artwork and vintage posters adorn every inch of the walls and there are cozy nooks to sit and just be in your own zone.  Besides specialty coffees and baked goods, they have an entire wall devoted to loose-leaf tea that you can have brewed there or buy per ounce.  There was also a pool room lounge in the basement near the bathrooms.  Basically, I was in love.  If I only resided closer to the City, you'd find me there everyday (and we also noted that it's a hipster hideaway, makes for good people watching).
Java's on Urbanspoon
On Monday, I brought Justin to another one of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua.  We strolled around Main Street and bought artisan chocolate, he displayed his musical talents at an instrument shop, we had coffee, gelato on the pier and sent him off with food from Wegmans for the train ride.
By 2:45, he was gone.

I won't see him until the end of January, so I was ridiculously fortunate that he came to visit! And I'm really spoiled because another one of my close friends, Kate, came to my house Monday night for dinner. I met her on the Cross-Country team and since I'm going abroad this fall and she is applying to go to Kenya in the spring, it's likely we won't see each other for a while. As you may or may not know, I'm studying in France this fall semester. I'm leaving Thursday, and I'll be back for Christmas. It's odd, hearing about all my friends going back to school and starting and I won't have left home yet! My family didn't even realize that I was leaving this week, and they thought I was there for the year... there tends to be a lot of hearing but no listening around here.


Listening: the Avett Brothers albums "Emtionalism" and "I and Love and You", courtesy of Justin.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Rock Show

Every now and then I feel like a loser for being into punk rock.

Mainly because it doesn't have much substance, seems to be an immature phase and all the musicians are just recording the same crap.  Then I reconsider, because since when have I not felt like an immature loser for liking and doing the things I do? And as it turns out, I have friends along with thousands of others who appreciate the same too.  And so, we went to see blink-182 for the second time around (Reunion Tour was August '09) last Thursday!  Oh, and one could actually credit them for being one of the originals that influenced subsequent bands in this genre.  Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker (who joined the band a few years later though) have been making music about as long as I've been alive.
After a few years of being reunited blink is traveling across the States to promote their new album Neighborhoods that should be released in September.  So, we grabbed our groupie-est garb, set the playlist to their 40+ songs and drove to Darien Lake.
The tour is sponsored by Honda-Civic and there were tons of promotion tents, like the airbrush tattoos and ridiculous Tom DeLonge masks.  We're frugal-minded people and only forked over $20 for the lawn, though of course we made the best of it!  Manchester Orchestra was the first opener, and I know they're a great band, but it was just a terrible venue and audience for their performance.  Then My Chemical Romance came on and we spent that hour with our eyes twitching and openly laughing.  I'm sorry, your transition from emo to anthemic rock can't fool me, Gerard Way!   
Finally, at 9:15 PM our boys came on and I had that heart-wrenching swell of adrenaline and elation and spent the rest of the night dancing and screaming with my friends and trying not to be hurt by the mosh pit in front of us.  All of the above was a success!  Ha, and I learned the next day over 60 people were arrested for under age drinking and the roller coaster at the connecting amusement park had another accident.. fortunately no one was injured.

And here is some lame, severely distant footage of blink-182 playing "I Miss You" that I shot on my iPhone. I was rotating the thing and switching off hands because my arms were tiring, but you can generally see the immense lasers and hear Tom's warble.  Their set was definitely shorter than the Reunion Tour and their energy felt off, though I should quit comparing this concert to the previous one and just feel fortunate for being at their concert!  I have realized that sometimes during concerts, I'm so focused on taking videos and pictures that I lose the furor of the moment.  "I Miss You" is a blink classic, however, and needed to be recorded.
To bitch once more, they didn't play "Adam's Song", "Another Girl, Another Planet", "Not Now" and a few other older favorites. 
The rebuttal to my bitching:  They're raunchy, hilarious, the audience is dangerously fun and they know how to put on a damn good show!!!
During the encore, Travis Barker did another sick drum solo too.  No flying drumset this time, yet he mashed up hip-hop and electronica, and the percussion beats are allllll him.  At 40 seconds for this video there's lots of pretty lights :).
There's something about him that is oddly... sexy.  Maybe it's because in his late-thiry years he hasn't gained any chub like Mark and Tom?  He just seems to have aged differently. :B HAHA

I have another post in the works about the weekend that followed, but what a stellar way to kick it off. We squeezed our way through traffic, wolfed own atrocious food at Denny's and I was home and in bed by 2 AM. Ahh, summer concerts.
Listening: "Another Girl, Another Planet" by blink-182.
p.s. Here's an article about them that's hard to look at graphically but at least contains beautiful pictures an a rundown of the band's history.  CHEERS

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer's Harvest

While on my bike, I was caught in a downpour.
Whenever I thought it couldn't torrent any more, it did! But the rain was fresh; the humidity broke though I wasn't cold. My eyes were water logged but when I finally made it back to my driveway, I just had to dance. I began twirling and throwing my arms, the weight of the water in my clothing increasing the perpetual motion. But then I stopped, because the neighbors across the street sketch me out. I moved to my pool deck and sat for a bit, admiring the sounds and the lushness of the yard. It was one of those moments where my body felt so tingling and alive, that I was numb. It's exhilarating.

So you may or may not recall the post I did about my overwhelming addiction to the magic of oatmeal (' Your Stomach on the Line ' check that out if you want to review my madness).  Well, here I am to rave about the power and versatility of the vegetable that is present in gardens everywhere: zucchini !!!  Here's some cooking suggestions to try if you haven't:
- grilled; my parents prefer olive oil and dill, I always use oregano and lots of pepper, though brushing it with some honey or maple syrup is amazing
- sliced into strips, salted, drained and boiled like noodles
- breaded with crumbs, an egg, some flour and spices then fried in butter or olive oil
- shredded and cooked the same way, as a sort of zucchini latke/fritter
- tossed in olive oil and herbs with other garden vegetables and roasted in the oven (350-375 degrees) with some cheese until they're tender and golden
- sliced and cooked lightly to use in omelets, egg scrambles and fritattas
- RAW.  Younger, smaller zucchinis have a sweet, soft texture.  A lot of people love lightly frying the blossoms, but I have to admit that I haven't tried it yet.  Anyone?
- Searing the zucchini with curry powder, a bit of cumin and turmeric and chili powder.  I like doing that with rice noodles for an Asian-influenced meal.
- Zucchini cakes, breads and cookies

Yes, cookies!  This vegetable has a magnificent moisture content and mild flavor.  My mom always makes spiced (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) cookies that people can't resist.  These are the ones I made the other day.  In my effort to improve the nutritional content, I only used egg whites and substituted apple sauce for a lot of the butter... and they fell flat!  This time, my mom wins; some things just shouldn't be changed.  I placed dark chocolate wafers in a few of them, though.  I'll just leave the cookie-making to her next time.  Let me know if you'd like the recipe, they're super easy!


In other news, my friend Tucker bought a bus.

Yeah, that's what he keeps calling it anyways.  After Craiglist hunting, phone calls and even driving to Ohio, last weekend he finally drove to Pennsylvania with his Dad and brought home a 1970's white (ish) Volkswagon Westphalia ' bus ' (i.e. hippy van).
I guess the owner before him lived out of the van with his son for three years, and who knows where it's been before that! The inside was plastered with Grateful Dead stickers and this cool tapestry, though he's been very occupied with cleaning, purging and reupholstering.
Nonetheless, Tucker is happy and that much nearer to fulfilling dream of being a road tripping vagabond.  And he paid for the entire thing himself; definitely something to be proud of.

Listening: "Every Morning" by Sugar Ray

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Photos from Home

While I'm awake, I figured I would double post (omgz!) and share some photos that I took Thursday. I passed these sights when I was riding my bike, made it home, grabbed my camera, then pedaled back. The day was hot but too glorious to pass up a photo shoot. Sometimes I take for granted how beautiful it is where I live.

I adored this giant bumble bee because it seemed to be lolling about the pollen.  Us, the neighbors and many others have these bushes around their yards (I'm blanking on the name of the flower, of course).
As I was climbing back onto my bike to head to my next destination, a man was pulling into the driveway at this field and asked me if I was lost.  I smiled sweetly and replied, "Nope!  Just taking pictures of the hay bales."  He nodded skeptically then continued onward.  Hey, why not?  There's something about their spiraling textural madness and shimmering gold straws that I could not pass up.

Yup, I really am loving my camera.  Looking around, what's your favorite part about home?