Monday, July 21, 2008

Staycation

You know, why travel all the way to New York when you can just stay home? Travel is over-rated, right? At least, I'd like to convince myself of that. Due to circumstances beyond my control, we did not head to NY this weekend as originally planned. I am bummed, but believe I shall recover. Maybe there will be time in the fall for a day trip into the city, and we can see and do a few things.
In spite of this terrible change of plans, we managed to have a Staycation sort of a weekend. You've heard of them. Most people do it to save money. We were doing it because we were here, and I didn't want to be here, so we pretended we weren't here. We did things we don't normally do. We ate out three times in three days. We never eat out three times in three days. We went to a movie. We never go to movies. I became the pansy. I was one with the pansy. "BE the pansy", I said.
And I took pictures of chickens and hawks and mushrooms and lilies and - wait for it - KNITTING!! A miracle. (The pansy thing will begin to make sense now.) On Thursday a very intrepid knitter appeared at drop-in questioning her sanity. She was working on Noni #117, Girly Backpack, fall 2007, complete with the most lovely pansies ever knitted. Trouble was, she was having some difficulty knitting them. I read the pattern, and it felt like Greek. Now maybe it was the crowd (it was a very busy drop-in!) or maybe it was the night air (my mind sometimes stops working after...I wake up) but no matter how many times I tried to read the pansy pattern, it made no sense. I know, I just KNEW that if I could sit down with it and knit it, it'd work. But drop-in is not the place to do that, especially on a night when there's 20 - 24 knitters in attendance. I snagged the pansy directions and determined to make it work, no matter what. I gave my grave promise that in 2 weeks' time I would be prepared to assist this student to self-pansying. I figured it would make good train knitting. Since, in the end, there was no train in my weekend I decided it might make good car knitting instead. I toiled for a bit in the car when we went to fetch shavings and soymilk and fresh local produce. Then we stopped driving and I decided maybe it would be good cheap wine on the deck knitting. Soon I had it - an unfelted, but definitely recognizable pansy!The petals are intarsia, so we're talking about a lot of ends to run in. Tedious, since I am not a fan of intarsia or loose ends, but rhythmic once you get going. A second glass of wine and some heavy duty scrubbing in very hot water and soap resulted in a serious pansy. Now all I have to do is make enough of them that I can make this look easy for my Thursday night knitter, who's due to return in two weeks to have a flower lesson. It did, as I moved along, become easier and more understandable. I am serious about 'being the pansy'. As I moved to pick up the next set of stitches off of holders, I asked myself what a pansy would do. Now, I adore pansies which might be cheating, but somehow it all came together and a pansy was formed.
Eating in the Valley - bearing in mind that I am a foodie, and a bit of a snob at times about where and what I eat and the quality thereof - we went for the first time to my former laundromat. I kid you not. I washed diapers in this place until my dad bought me a washer and my ex bought me a dryer. I'd say that this was my laundromat of choice for a good two years. Now it's an Italian place called Ristorante DiPaolo, small and a bit upscale in the middle of a town that's...not. We had a gift certificate that we've been dragging around since Christmas. I am not a big lover of Italian, and neither is Mr. W. But we were curious as we'd heard good things about the place. We were not disappointed. I will say that I felt like the price was a little high - not just because of the unusual location, but also because the food, while good was not what I'd call stellar. We were seated in the exact spot my hairdresser had warned me to avoid; behind a wooden screen close to the bar, front door, and kitchen. This made for a disruptive dining experience with people coming and going, loud kitchen sounds, banging and crashing of trays and dishes and shouting employees. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the meal. I had barramundi, which is so local to this establishment as to be within about 5 miles of where my chair was located. That always makes me smile. I began with a really nice salad topped with gorgonzola and carmelized pine nuts, beets and pears. Mr. Wonderful had pan-seared scallops with mushrooms finished with white truffle oil that were nice, but a bit too seared. My large fillet was a little dry toward the tail end, although I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get even cooking in a piece of fish that ranges in thickness. The jasmine rice was average and a bit under done, but a small pile of kale was very properly cooked - still crispy and bright green. Mr. Wonderful's main course was a shrimp dish that he was not in love with, but since he does not like cream sauces and ordered one, we're not going to go into detail about that one (buyer beware - of you order something you do not like, you do not get to complain!). I had a glass of something red that was good - memorable in large part because the temperature was right and it perfectly complimented my fish, but not memorable enough for me to...remember what it was! I want to say it was a Shiraz. Mr. W went with BBC's Steel Rail Pale Ale (weirdo. who drinks this? it's not even beer. want beer? try BBC's Imperial Stout, or Coffeehouse Porter, or the one with the oatmeal...oatmeal stout...wait...that one's from The Pint. 'pale ale'. uggh.). Hey. Who said that?? Someone broke into my blog. I didn't say that. I would never imply that my dearly beloved spouse is a beer wimp. NEVER!! Anyway, I digress. For dessert he had something with a tart crust that I ignored (crust = diablo). I had...ok...I had (wait I need a drool cloth)...flourless chocolate cake and chocolate mousse in a chocolate ganache dome. With raspberries. I brought half home to Girl. She's old enough now. She was incapable of speech or thought for about ten minutes. It was SO good. Overall it was a good meal, and a nice time, and we would go again if we had another GC to soften the blow. Our other 'big' meal out was last night, at Hope and Olive in Greenfield. We'd heard about this place, owned by the owners of the former Bottle of Bread Pub in Shelburne Falls which met with an untimely end in December 2005. We'd never made it up there claiming it was too out of the way for us, but since Hope and Olive is fifteen minutes away we have no excuse. We'll be back. I had Chicken Tikka that was perfectly complimented by a Key Lime Martini. The chicken was a fantastic balance of flavor, topped with a mint cucumber raita and mango - and oh what music they made! This is Indian rib-sticking food. Good, basic, melded, stew-like and just excellent. It was topped with a great big fresh papadam. I loved loved loved this. Mr. Wonderful had a sirloin which frightened him because it had "sauce". In the end he seemed pleased by it, regardless of the presence of the sauce (it looked a bit mol`e, but I could not taste it since we didn't clear it for gluten content). He fell madly in love with his potato, which was excellent, and after scraping the beets ("taste like dirt...") off of the farmer's salad, he dove into that with relish. Again he had some watery beer thing. I mean. Some lovely local pale ale. Mmm,mmm. Can't get enough of that pale ale. yum.me. Maybe it was the martini. Maybe it was the nice table not next to the kitchen. Maybe it was our very comfortable server, or the relaxed environment, or the excellent food, or the price, or maybe it was a combination of all of those things, but I suspect that Hope and Olive has become my new favorite local restaurant. It's simple lines, bright colors, cheerful staff and great local food with lots of international flair just made for an out-of-the-park dining experience. I'd love to, say, take my sample knitters there. It would be a great place to just sit at the bar for a few hours. A great place to be social and comfortable. Everyone should go! After dinner we walked up the street to see a movie. We chose Wall-E and could not have chosen better (although the theater needs some help...my seat was not attached to the floor and kept shifting wildly, but I did not want to disrupt Mr W or miss anything so stayed put, and the facilities were..less than tidy). I am a bit surprised that Wall-E doing as well critically and with the public as it is, since the underlying subject matter, if you really look at it, is not comforting or sweet or charming. It is, at it's heart, a scary look at what might be the future of man. Can we continue to consume and dispose at our current rate and sustain ourselves on this planet? The answer, really, is "no". And Wall-E does not shy away from that. It does present the possibility of apocalyptic human survivors, drifting far above the earth in a sort of space-station meets staycation. Human contact is obliterated. I am still trying to reason out where the babies came from. Investing the charming and adorable main characters, both robots, with emotion softens the blow against humankind. But if you can come out of the theater unaffected by the underlying message, you need to go watch it again. My guilt level at my overconsumption reached all new highs that were not so easily glossed over in the light of day. We emerged from the theater to a brilliant light show to the north and a wind that increased a good bit as we trotted back to the car. We dodged lightning and gaping puddles all the way home. "Poor Boo. Poor Mervin. Poor House..." But all was mostly well upon our return. There were a lot of leaves and small branches down, but the lights appear to have stayed on, everything seems to work this morning, and the dog only took about an hour to come down from the ceiling.
In other exciting weekend news, the chicks have reached that stage of development that makes me so glad adolescence is over and never to be revisited. They are gawky, geeky, mostly but not quite all feathered.They are clumsy, and adorable as they jump from object to object in their little house, and practice jumping and 'flying'. They really think that if they try hard enough they can. It's a wonderful but ridiculous time. It seems like only yesterday...Then there were lilies:
Proud hens who seem to be a bit too aware of the camera:
Bee Balm visitors:
More 'shrooms (I dig the red ones):
Babies on the move - big time:They've been out of the nest for days now. Mom seems to be calling them here and there and encouraging them to hunt. Sometimes that does not work out so well, and there's mass chaos with lots of noise and distress. In my heart I know their mother is laughing (on the inside) at their failures. Remember the first time you watched your kid pour milk? And you tried not to laugh, and tried not to grab the carton, and the seriousness of their expression and panic at failure was enough to break your heart and leave you in stitches all at once?
I love tails. The fluffiness kills me.And the color, the iridescence that I am still working on catching.Bees, bumble style.Chicken wire. Good fences? They make safe gardens!!
Phew. Man can I talk when I get going.

3 comments:

Deb said...

I'm sorry you didn't get to NYC but it sounds like you had a good weekend nevertheless. We actually did a mini-mini vacation on Sat. afternoon. We drove up to Grafton,VT to the Grafton Cheese, finding a scenic dirt road in the process when we turned right instead of left in Bellows Falls. We sampled cheeses, bought some, and then came home, stopping impulsively at Basketville because a wine tasting was advertised. We sampled some great fruit wines from Putney Winery and bought some rhubarb wine (!) and had a very late lunch/early supper at Curtis BBQ. All in all, we traveled just about 100 miles, were home in just over 4 hours, and had a lovely, relaxing, mini-mini vacation!

PS. I love the yarn I bought from your eBay auction!

Yarnhog said...

Awww. I'm sorry your trip fell through. On our second wedding anniversary, we wanted to go away, but we had a baby and not much money. My mom took the baby overnight and we went to a hotel downtown for the night, saw a show, had a lovely dinner and played tourist. It was almost like a real vacation.

Julia Grace said...

I, too, was wondering where the babies in the spaceship in Wall-E came from. =) It's too bad you couldn't go to NYC, but I'm glad you had a good time at that restaurant!