Wednesday, April 30, 2008


It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.


I was talking with a niece (for lack of a better familial term) recently about her upcoming summer plans. She is completing her second year of college and is planning on going to Ireland for the summer - a few weeks of "learning" and travel through her university. Next spring she hopes to spend a semester in London. I must have overwhelmed her with my excitement - so thrilled for her to go on this adventure! Oh, how I miss those days.

Sort of.

I told her stories of my summer in Nigeria (did I mention the malaria?) - and how I bummed around London for a week on my way home. Little money, little food but I was so excited to be doing it "on my own".

I told her stories of the subsequent spring semester in England where I also backpacked around Europe - again, little money, little food. But somehow I made it work. At one point I had nothing but a Eurail pass, 25 cents and a box of cookies. Luckily, I was on the last leg of my trip - eager to meet my parents in Germany. Oh the joy I felt when I finally hauled myself through the door after 20 hours of train travel - and there on the table was FOOD! Vegetables! Meat! WINE! And yet, that endless train ride is not at all a painful memory.

At the end of the semester I wasn't willing to come home - crossing the Atlantic seemed like such a final act. I would have completed my time overseas, headed back to a boring job at home. I was not ready.

I found myself a summer gig volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel - hard work but 3 square meals! Picking pears, working on a potato combine, backpacking around the country - again, little money, little food (off the kibbutz). Absolutely one of the most rewarding jobs I ever had.

And as I sat there and told these tales to our niece with all the excitement and joy and I could ever feel - I kept thinking, "could I do that again?".

No. My older self loves my comfy bed, warm shower, and FOOD.

But I can't wait to see her pictures!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Purple Rain

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


We've finally turned a corner with the weather this weekend in DC. Flower Child can go back to doing the thing that gave her her name. I spent the weekend digging through dirt and gardening to my heart's delight.

It was Thursday this past week the clematis bloomed - and it is gorgeous! Beautiful purple flowers - just stunning. And the best part is, I don't have to do anything - it comes back year after year with minimal help from me.

Where's the music in all of this? Well, Purple Rain of course. A great movie from my high school days (one friend saw it at least a dozen times) and an even better album. I do love Prince/the artist formerly known as Prince/Prince.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

La Vie en Rose

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


Sunday was one of those days - when you feel fully transported to another place. I went to the farmers' market on a gray rainy day and picked up some fresh mache (salad) and tomatoes. I went home, put together a tomato tart and made homemade French onion soup (complete with toasted baguette slices topped with Gruyere!).

My husband picked up a bottle of Beaujolais Villages and we sat down to a lovely French lunch. With the pouring rain outside it reminded me of La Vie en Rose - the movie about Edith Piaf. Well, everything except the tragic part.

Growing up my dad would play Edith Piaf records endlessly. She had this strange, yet captivating voice. Made all the more interesting and heartfelt due to her excessive drinking and drug use. And difficult childhood.

Back to my transporting afternoon - a simple French meal, a lovely bottle of red wine, a wonderful husband. La Vie en Rose.

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fresh Produce at the Farmer's


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.


There comes a time in everyone's life when they get that phone call from their parents. "We're retiring to..." Boca Raton? Warm weather. Early Bird Specials. There's something to be said for that.

My mother and stepfather who lived in England for several years (he's British) called me several years back to announce their plans.

"As in France?".
"Yes, they have nice wine there. And good weather. And good health care."

Fine by me!

They have spent the past few years in their new home mostly renovating it. It's a nice old farmhouse that really reminded you of, well, a farmhouse. Rustic sink. Barn. That sort of stuff. It is now a lovely house with a gourmet kitchen and an upstairs suite for visitors.

Instead of the trek to the $5.95 buffet that I would be making if they lived in Florida, I'm trekking down the hill to the wine co-op to fill our 10 liter jug with the village red. Life is good!

The first time I met my husband he overheard me at a party talking about how my mother was moving to Bordeaux. He interrupted the conversation, injecting "what?! why aren't you there now?!".

A couple of years later when I brought him to meet my parents I thought he would dump me afterwards - he got his trip to Bordeaux, what did he need me for after that? Instead, he proposed. Guess he wasn't sufficiently scared off by my mother. Maybe he was too drunk to notice. Maybe he figured he could someday inherit a farmhouse in France and retire there.

Where will you be retiring to?

Monday, April 14, 2008

With All of My Tart

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


I spent the weekend baking. HEAVEN.

I love nothing more than baking. Pie crusts excite me. Lemon curd makes my heart soar.

I don't know if there is a song about how much one can love baking. But I did find a Monty Python (LOVE them too!) song about rhubarb tarts. So, sing along, and check out my goodies.

I want another slice of rhubarb tart.
I want another lovely slice.
I'm not disparaging the blueberry pie
But rhubarb tart is oh so very nice.
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart!
A whatbarb tart? A rhubarb tart!
I want another slice of rhubarb tart!

Blueberry Muffins and Pain Aux Raisins

The principles of modern philosophy
Were postulated by Descartes.
Discarding everything he wasn't certain of
He said 'I think therefore I am a rhubarb tart.'
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart!
A Rene who? Rene Descartes!
Poor nut he thought he was a rhubarb tart!

Lemon Curd Tart with Swiss Meringue & Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream

Read all the existentialist philosophers,
Like Schopenhauer and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Even Martin Heidegger agrees on one thing:
Eternal happiness is rhubarb tart.
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart!
A Jean-Paul who? A Jean-Paul Sartre!
Eternal happiness is rhubarb tart.

Parisienne style Brioche

A rhubarb tart has fascinated all the poets.
Especially the immortal bard.
He caused Richard the Third to call on Bosworth Field:
'My kingdom for a slice of rhubarb tart!'
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb bard!
Immortal what? Immortal tart!
As rhymes go that is really pretty bard!

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd and Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This Weekend I'm Rolling...


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

South Beach Miami

It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.

On a lighter note than previous Wayfaring posts, I thought I'd blog about Miami this week.

For the big birthday weekend my husband wanted to take me somewhere - Paris? No, too cold, too far. What I wanted more than anything else was warm sand in my toes. Seriously, that was the exact criteria. Oh, and minimal travel time, no connections, and minimal time zone changes. Miami it was.

South Beach is a mixture of cultures - Cuban, art deco, funky - if you count those as separate cultures. Let me tell you a little about each of these.

Cuban - Miami has a large Cuban population and it was in full evidence this past weekend. As we were walking to Puerto Sagua for Cuban sandwiches (I love any sandwich with pickles) we kind of ran into Jon Secada, the Latin pop star. And his friends, one of whom invented the Macarena. They were filming something for someone (TV?) and somehow we we were asked if we wanted to meet Jon...and dance the Macarena. Here we are. I think I did pretty well.

Art Deco - At some point, someone had the good sense to preserve all the beautiful art deco buildings in the neighborhood. It's a wonderful place to walk around once you've spent enough time on the beach.

Funky - South Beach day and nightlife is a a motley collection of eccentricities. Our hotel had theme rooms - now I know you're thinking jungle or bordello - and you might be right. They also had rooms, such as ours, that was decorated based on a 50's car theme. The bathroom fixtures, the ceiling fan, everything. You can fight to get into a chi-chi club, watch scantily clad women parading down Ocean Drive, or get a temporary tattoo at midnight after too many mojitos.

Notice it's a flower - for Flower Child

Monday, April 07, 2008

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine.

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.
You tell me that it's evolution,
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.
But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out.

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I'm in Miami, My Toes Are...


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Burning My Brain

It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.

I was tossing around a bunch of ideas for this week's Wayfaring Wednesday and then I realized I was tossing them all around in my brain. Which 20 years ago, was on fire.

During college I became very interested in African studies - this was very exciting for me as I had spent a few years not really sure of what I wanted to do. I had a major but I didn't have a clear passion for the subject. After taking an African history course in which I hated the teaching assistant, but loved the class, I knew this was for me.

The summer between my junior and senior years of college I decided to go on a trip to Africa - keep in mind, this was the late 1980's - not everyone was doing it. The one program I found was 6 weeks in Nigeria studying at the University of Ibadan with other American students.

It was a great trip in many ways - I dove into the unknown, went to a country I'd barely heard of, with people I'd never met.

Upon my return to the U.S. I started to come down with weird symptoms. Blurred vision at first and then the fever hit - easily reaching 104 degrees. Ibuprofen would break it and soon it was back up again. My parents took me to my infectious disease specialist in NY City (doesn't everyone have one of those?) - and to make a long story short, I ended up hospitalized for a week with malaria. Later I would discover, cerebral malaria. Not good.

Fortunately for me, my mom is a critical care nurse and was able to take me home after the first week - I spent the second week housebound with round the clock supervision. The fevers had stopped but now I was experiencing severe shaking - my muscles were so out of whack that my arms and legs shook uncontrollably. Try eating like that! Getting fork to mouth was impossible.

After the end of two weeks, I was much improved. And at the end of it all, after the scorching fever, the vomiting, the uncontrollable shaking - the near-death experience, I wanted to go back to Africa.

So that's how I figured out my future career - took a bit of burning my brain to do it.

Did you ever go to a place which confirmed something for you?