The Runcible Spoon and Driving, Driving, Driving

How was my day? Thanks for asking! It started wonderfully with breakfast at a charming place in Bloomington, IN called:

Remember the poem about the Owl and the Pussycat? Well, their progeny have opened a café in Indiana. Who knew?? They serve colossal omelettes:

And grind their own coffee so no one needs to worry about them. They’re doing great and their decorating sense is quirky but beguiling. You can’t tell under the ginormous omelette, but my table is covered with burlap coffee sacks covered by a glass top, plus there are seating options outside on the back porch and the front patio for good weather. And when you’ve eaten as much of that omelette as you can handle (I ate it all but I’m a professional breakfast eater. I would recommend you pace yourself.), go next door and browse for hours at:

So many of my favorite words begin with B, but Books and Breakfast are the Best. I could have spent hours between those two places but as it was I spent too long and left too late and had too far to go, which left me very little time to do much besides drive.

What did the scenery look like? You read my mind! Here are a couple of shots. It started like this:

And moved into this:

Which is scenic in a very spare “I’ll use this for my production studio logo when I get into the movies” sort of way. But then it evolved into a lot of this:

For about 6 hours. Welcome to the Midwest in early spring before anything starts to grow.

I’d have liked to stop and partake of the Amish buffet or buy local honey or find out why people would buy dead flat screen TVs or ask if I’m the independent thinker needed by a local school board (so many fascinating signs along these highways) but I couldn’t because I had to get to Chicago and take a yoga class. Welcome back to my driving life.

I managed to make it into the Chicago in time for my yoga class, despite bumper to bumper traffic on Lake Shore Drive during which I checked my email and updated my facebook status. (My “smartphone” might get me killed during this trip. Just sayin’) I decided to do Bikram in Lincoln Park and loved both the studio and the teacher, Mike. He says they give discounts to actors/theater people, so check them out if you are in Chicago. They have a number of class times and locations in Wicker Park and the Loop so you have your pick of studios plus the facilities are beautiful. The class was HOT, hotter than anything I’ve experienced since Falls Church, VA, but awesome despite/because of that.

My yoga meditation of the day came from one of the first things Mike said during class: Listen like it’s your first class.

I love that because it’s so easy to go into Bikram (or anything) thinking you know what to expect and neglecting to pay attention to what actually happens.

Listen like it’s your first class. Pretend you don’t know anything. Listen like you want to learn, like you need to learn, like the class and the teacher have something to offer you. Listen to absorb. Listen to change. Listen.

I have 3 days here in my favorite Second City with some of my favorite people. I’ve already had a great time tonight with my friend T, drinking wine and talking about the changes we’re implementing in our lives. Apparently this is the year of transition. Did you know that? A girl at my yoga class said that and I think it’s true. If you have changes you want to make, deep life-changing alterations to your existence, this year is the time.

And now you know.

Tomorrow: Chicago stuff. I don’t know what, but you’ll love it. Promise.

See you then.

Loveless Cafe and Christmas in April

I said goodbye to the South with breakfast at the best place in Nashville. Loveless Cafe has remained unchanged for over 50 years until they expanded the restaurant 5 years ago and added a barbeque pit and a country store for their mail order “hams and jams” program. However, they still have the same secret biscuit recipe and the best country ham and red eye gravy in all of Tennessee. If you want all day breakfast on Highway 100, you go to:

Sadly, Miss Carol Fay “the biscuit lady” died recently.

But she trained her successor well. The biscuits were buttery perfection and their famous homemade preserves tasted like condensed fruit and sunshine. According to Mrs. Wilson, “everyone eats the biscuits just to get at the preserves.”

I LOVE breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day and this café is one of my favorites, as much for the scenic qualities as the food. I love the 50’s style neon sign, the red and white tablecloth and the scrambled eggs that I think they cook with bacon fat. Magnifique!

After breakfast and unnecessary purchases, I drove out on the Natchez Trace Parkway, past the double arch concrete bridge:

Down to historic Leiper’s Fork where I hoped to see a friend of mine’s art in a local gallery but the gallery was closed (sorry Clay and Krista!). So I turned around and headed out of Tennessee. Within 2 hours the terrain had substantially flattened and I knew I’d left the South.

I stopped once today, but I made it a good one in Santa Claus, IN where a giant constipated Santa Claus banishes you to the nether realms:

Need a close up of that face? Of course you do.

Puts me somewhat in mind of the troll guarding the bridge in Billy Goat Gruff. Why are characters out of context so disturbing? Santa Claus at Christmas time is great, even a mean Santa like this one who wants to put coal in your stocking. But seeing this giant Santa on a sunny day in April is like seeing a Christmas tree under a pile of boxes and a mattress on an episode of Hoarders. Creepy and a little sad. A decent description of Santa Claus, IN, come to think of it. Of course I had to go buy a Santa ornament:

Note that he’s holding a tire? Because I’m on a road trip! Get it? Get it? Yeah… when you’re in the middle of nowhere looking at an empty Holiday World, signs for Lake Rudolph and a vacant Frosty’s Fun Center, the hysteria mounts and everything seems a bit hilarious.

Then I realized that I lost an hour in Indiana (Time zones. Killing me.), which changed my whole yoga schedule and I had to scramble to find a place in Bloomington Indiana with an appropriately timed class. Fortunately I ended up at Know yoga, Know Peace (say it aloud. Clever right?) with teacher Jean. She’s Bikram certified but the studio isn’t, which gave me my opportunity to talk with a studio owner about this hot yoga choice. I liked Jean’s explanation that she loves Bikram but misses doing other yoga poses so she chooses to teach in a hot room and use Bikram as a base line but incorporate other Hatha poses.

I had a fantastic time in her class and enjoyed doing a different series of poses than what I’m used to. She led with a nice balance of calm and energy and said “Find your breath” after every pose, which made me think about how often we lose our breath or forget to fully utilize it.

The conversation and the class led me to my yoga meditation of the day: Which is more important, the style or the teacher?

I think Bikram (the man) would put the emphasis on the style, thus his choice to train all his teachers with the same patter, phrasing and emphasis to make each teacher/class/studio as much the same as possible.

Advocates of a style above all else believe that their style can work well for everyone, even if it doesn’t work perfectly for some. Advocates of the teacher believe that in any pursuit, the teacher makes the difference in a student’s ability to succeed. My martial arts background leads me to believe that the some styles are more effective than others. But I know that each style’s efficacy is most dependent on the practitioner.

Some students will excel with crappy teachers because they grasp the fundamentals without a lot of guidance. In my own experience as a student, the teacher makes the most difference. Even in pursuits in which I have no skill or talent or ability, I’ve learned the best lessons from good teachers.

I ended the night with a long sushi dinner at Mikado with my high school friend, Laura. We caught up on the last couple decades of our lives and laughed over high school memories over late night drinks at the Irish Lion. It’s so fun to see old friends who are happy and doing well with lives so different from mine.

And now to bed. Tomorrow: Chicago!