JULY 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
A current favorite product of mine: PhillySwirl SwirlStix. They're made with real sugar, have artificial flavors, and have no nutritional value except for some vitamin C (which, let's face it, they add to everything), but they are just sweet enough and terrifically refreshing on these terrifically hot summer days. (I'm not complaining about the heat, by the way.) And they come in lots of excellent flavors in one box, and not one of those flavors is nasty artifical cherry. I hate artificial cherry. Anyway, these are very tasty and enjoyable, and I highly recommend picking up a box.

Monday, July 30, 2007
Spelling police strike again. When we were in South Haven last weekend, there were all of these trash cans set up around town. All of them had a stenciled-on sign indicating that no residential trash was to be placed in them a -- reasonable request. However, whoever stenciled the trash cans left out an "n," so all of the cans now read "RESIDETIAL TRASH PROHIBITED." Subtle, yes, and the message gets across, but it's still spelled wrong. However, some spelling vigilante in town took it upon himself or herself to correct some of these trash cans!Here, you can see his or her handiwork.

(It made us laugh when we saw these, and it kind of reminded me of the MGM group in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Umm, not the film and entertainment company. MGM is Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts. Awesome.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
We had a great, extra-long weekend out in South Haven, and even though I've been back to the regular routine for almost two days now, I'm still feeling the relaxing effects of several days at a beach town. What a great time! We did nothing of any consequence: lots of walking, reading, sitting on the beach, more walking, eating fish, going for ice cream, and swimming in the pool at the Bed and Breakfast (because the lake was so cold it made our legs hurt). We also rented kayaks on Monday morning and took them out on Lake Michigan, which was awesome. I had never kayaked before, despite wanting to for a while, and even though we just paddled parallel to the shore and didn't venture out too far, the lake was calm and it wasn't too hot. All in all, a great time, and we agreed that this was one of our best vacations ever. Kind of interesting, considering that we've been to South Haven for the day countless times, and South Haven was our consolation vacation because we didn't have enough time to go up north this summer. It was so good, we're thinking about doing it again next year.

Friday, July 20, 2007
About that doing nothing business: we're going to the beach. Not just today, though. All freaking weekend, and Monday too! Yeah, I'm bringing school work with me, but I got most of my work for Tuesday done last night so I don't have to do much besides read a few articles. And we have a room at an inn. An inn! A little beach inn. So I am totally looking forward to vegging out for a few days. Back on Tuesday. Yesssssss.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I should be doing nothing.

Monday, July 16, 2007
So there are people who you don't like. Admit it. For whatever reason, you don't like them. We all have those people, and this morning, at the local supermegamart, I ran into the person I don't particularly care for. No big reason why -- we just don't click, I guess. But we said hello, and then I looked at this person's cart. It was one of those little carts, and there were three items in it: two two-liter bottles of diet Coke and a package of bacon. And then for the rest of the day, I felt kind of wrong for not liking someone who would go to the store and buy those things, because obviously there are bigger issues there. Wow.

Saturday, July 14, 2007
All of us here at would like to wish a very happy jour de Bastille (or Bastille Day, for the non-French-speaking members of the audience) to all of our French friends. Not to say that we have any French friends. We know someone from France, but we wouldn't consider her a friend. One time we complimented her on her shirt, and she gave us this whole story about how it was from Paris, and how all the best clothes come from Paris, and ooohlala oui oui, and ever since then, we've been kind of lukewarm on the whole French thing. My shirt's nice too, you know, and as far as I know, it's not from Paris. But we like French food, especially all of those delicious semisoft cheeses and that crusty bread. Oh, and last night we saw SiCKO, and we left hopping mad but with a newfound respect for the French and their minimum five weeks of vacation a year. Five weeks! Jeez. No wonder the bread and cheese are so good. They have time to perfect them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Some things:

  • On the one hand, I am really busy with the two classes I'm taking, the one class I'm teaching, and just trying to generally live my life. On the other hand, when I have a to-do list with 20 things on it and I get them all done, it feels pretty good.
  • We got a little bit of rain last night, and I was happy about it. Happy! About rain! It's been amazingly dry here, and there are a lot of yellow lawns, and even when we have days that just feel like the thick, hot calm before a violent thunderstorm, we get no rain. The wind blows, the temperature drops, and that's it. No rain. So last night, it was kind of nice.
  • I am so loving Sex and the City in syndication. So loving.
  • Aww man, Lady Bird died. Not that it affects me personally, but it's always sad when people die. Isn't it? Anyway, she was 94, and I think tough old broads are cool.
  • It is officially blueberry season here in Michigan. Good thing, because cherry season is about done, and I need to have something to put in my pies before peach season is upon us. New this summer: I've been making my own pie crusts. Oh wow. What a difference! I'll never buy the pre-made rolled-up kind again. And we got a shiny new KitchenAid food processor as an engagement present, and it's so easy to make pie crust in it. Now if I could only get over that gross-out feeling I get every time I add the Crisco.
Back to work. Jeez.

Monday, July 9, 2007
Even though it was unbelievably hot yesterday, Paul and I decided to brave the elements and go for a 32-mile bike ride. We rode on the trail we usually ride on, but we started at the halfway point. That way, we could ride out to Lake Michigan, have some lunch, and then ride back. Plus, we'd get to see a different part of the trail. (Actually, it all looks more or less the same, but this section had wild black raspberries growing along the side, so we got to eat free raspberries. Free raspberries! Woohoo!)

So we went, and it was hot, but it wasn't really unbearable. And, the trail is mostly flat, so while it was strenuous, it wasn't impossible. Plus, we each had on one of those high-tech moisture-wicking shirts, which helps. I sweat like a guilty business exec, so any help I can get in that department is much appreciated. Anyway, so yeah, we rode out to South Haven and had lunch at the tasty but rude deli at the end of the bike trail, and then we turned around and rode back. But when we got back, the park at the halfway point on the trail where we parked was full of people! And as we were putting our bikes back on the car, a nice old lady said we should go get some cake and ice cream! It was gazebo dedication day, and all the nice old ladies in town brought cakes in 9x13 pans and little plastic servers to cut it all with (there was a last name written in marker on every server), and another nice not-so-old lady was standing behind a cooler with an ice cream scoop and put a nice round scoop of ice cream next to my cake. After riding all that way, it was awesome!

So that, of course, got me thinking: what if after every physically draining task that we had to undergo, there was a nice old lady there offering you cake and ice cream? I think that would make the world a much better place.

Thursday, July 5, 2007
Lately I've been feeling like I can barely keep my head above water, but we did manage to get away for a long weekend to Cleveland. A few years ago, the thought of going to Ohio for vacation would have seemed crazy to me, but for some reason, it seemed like a good idea. And I have to say that, true to the old Drew Carey Show theme song, Cleveland does, in fact rock.

We met up with Amy (another Amy) and David on Friday, had a few beers, and then headed for dinner at Lola. Amy had heard that this was the best restaurant in town, and I think she heard right. The food here was so good I thought my tongue would fall off. (Of course, all the booze helped, but the food was outstanding.) Highlights from dinner: we learned what charcuterie means and even tasted it, I ordered a smoked Berkshire pork chop for dinner, and it was about the best thing I've ever eaten (and I don't think I've ever ordered a pork chop at a restaurant before), and we had bacon ice cream. No, that is not a typo. It was bacon ice cream. Of course it was good (It's bacon! It's ice cream! It's bacon ice cream!), but...I don't know. It was maybe a little too Iron Chef-y for me. But it was definitely tasty. Overall, Lola is probably one of the best restaurants I've ever been to, and everyone agreed that it was some of the best food they've ever had. Oh, and they had cool silverware, too.

After a Persecco- and pig-induced sleep (that restaurant was really big on the meat), the following morning we headed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an enormous glass pyramid right on the waterfront, full of guitars and costumes and things you never thought you'd see under glass. (Pearl Jam's Vs.? Umm, okay.) While we were hoping for more intereactive-type exhibits (like a light-up floor so people could pretend to be Michael Jackson in the "Billie Jean" video, I suggested), and while the audio engineering wasn't as slick as it is in the Country Music Hall of Fame, we all agreed that it was an awesome museum and well worth the $20 admission fee. Amy was really happy about the big Doors exhibit up on the top floor, and Paul liked the big Clash exhibit, and I learned the meaning behind Rick Nelson's "Garden Party." As it turns out, it's really not all that fascinating. Anyway, it was a great place, and it's worth the trip to Cleveland just to visit.

After we loaded up on rock history, we went over to Jacobs Field for the Indians-Devil Rays game. We were able to get tickets at the gate, and as we walked in, we all got a free Grady Sizemore bobblehead doll! (Amy said to the ticket ripper, "They give you gifts when you come to Cleveland!") Apparently, Grady Sizemore is a good player and very cute, so everyone in Cleveland loves him and wants a bobblehead doll of his likeness. We filled up on ballpark food (mmm, ribs -- yes, more pork, I know) and beers and found our seats and had a great time. And what do you know, Grady Sizemore had a great game. I guess knowing there's 30,000 bobbleheads that look like you out in the crowd makes you play well. At one point, an umpire made a horrible call, and I was afraid that all of those bobble-Gradys would end up on the field. But everyone behaved, and everyone went home with a bobblehead.

The next day was Sunday, and we had made reservations for the House of Blues's Gospel Brunch. Frankly, I was a little surprised to learn that there was a House of Blues in Cleveland, but I guess with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame right there, people are interested. Please: if you are ever in a city with a House of Blues, and you have the opportunity, go to the gospel brunch. It may seem expensive (I think we paid $29 per person), but the food is unbelievable. It's just really good, unhealthy Southern-style cooking, and, it's all you can eat. It's worth going for the white choclate-banana bread pudding with creme anglaise alone. Oh, and you get mimosas, too. And then, as if that weren't enough, you get a one-hour, rousing, throw-your-hands-up style gospel show, complete with hand clapping and audience participation and everything. Paul and David said that if church were like that when they were little, they might still go. It was a great time, and the only thing I would change was the feeling I had as we were leaving. It was kind of like there was a stick of butter lodged in my small intestine. Kind of unpleasant, but you only live once, I guess. Besides, that macaroni and cheese was killer. Killer!

We walked around the city for about an hour in a butter-and-crawfish-induced haze, and then we decided to head to the zoo. Yeah, the zoo! Paul had read that the Cleveland Metro Zoo has the largest primate collection in the country, or something like that. Monkeys are cool. So we went. It was a really good zoo, but the best part was the Touch! exhibit. Even though they charged a buck extra to see it, people were lined up, and we were told it would take an hour before we could get in. We paid anyway, and about a half hour before the zoo closed, we went over, and there was this big shallow pool, and inside the pool were stingrays! And they were totally adorable! We were assured that all of the dangerous pokey stingray parts had been trimmed back (whatever that means), and we were encouraged to put our hands in the water, palms up, and the stingrays would swim over and glide over our hands. And they did! And they were a little slimy and weird-feeling, but it was awesome! At first I couldn't understand why the stingrays would want to do this, but then Paul reminded me that animals like to be rubbed on the belly, so it made sense. I really loved that we could touch the stingray, and now I want to get one as a pet. They're cute. Really!

As we were leaving the zoo, we realized that we were completely exhausted from our weekend of sight-seeing and pork-eating. We grabbed a quick dinner and went to bed. Lame, perhaps, but I think we had all reached our limit. Overall, we all had a great time. I am happy to report that Cleveland is no longer the mistake by the lake! It's a great town, and if you get the chance, you should definitely visit.

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