The Beaches of Crete

Crete was our crap shoot at the end of the trip. We both wanted to visit another island, I was in favor of Santorini but it looked a lot like Mykonos so Corey talked me into Crete. The downsides were that it was far away, about as far as you can get from Athens and still be in Greece, and that it’s a huge island so we had to choose what parts we wanted to see. But then the guys who worked our hostel in Athens heard we were headed to Crete and gave us all kinds of recommendations of where to stay and what beaches to visit so we decided it would be worth it. We got a ferry from Mykonos (5 hours!) and landed in Heraklion around evening on Monday.

Heraklion is a big messy city with a gorgeous medieval wall running along the bay


We were only here one night so I have very little to say about this city except… street art! I liked this little guy.


The next day we got on a bus and headed to our real destination, the town of Chania in the upper west side of the island. We literally got off the bus, went directly to the airport, rented a car and headed straight to Elafonisi Beach. We didn’t have much time here and didn’t want to waste it.

It was only 72km from Chania but the roads were narrow


And windy


And it took awhile. Like 2 hours. Ish. Fortunately we had tunes and snacks

Oregano lays

And gorgeous views


And nothing to do but drive; so we did.

Elafonisi is counted as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. It did not disappoint

Elafonisi beach

That sand is pink!


Crushed coral I believe. And the water is the clearest I’ve ever seen anywhere. We sat on the beach for hours, I think I read a little bit and just stared at the ocean. The water was chilly so Corey got in. I did not.

Corey at Elafonisi

We drove home after a few hours and enjoyed a delightful dinner in Crete


And collapsed at our hotel. We stayed at the Splanzia Boutique Hotel and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Corey said the real subtitle of our Greek vacation (right behind “Beer and Cats”) is “Why are we not staying here longer??” and I said it the most about Chania and especially the Splanzia.

My room was so beautiful, especially in the morning light

Splanzia Boutique Hotel

and I even enjoyed some coffee on my teensy balcony

Splanzia Boutique hotel

And a massive breakfast spread with the best Greek yoghurt I’ve ever had in my mouth, covered in local honey.

Greek yoghurt

Thus fortified, and with a flight to Athens late that afternoon, we got back in the car to hit one more beach. Falasarna.

Falasarna beach

Falasarna was my favorite.

Kaitlyn at Falasarna

The water was crystal clear and warm enough to swim, I loved these beach chairs

Falasarna beach

And I spent a sizable amount of time just sitting. Drinking beer. Looking at the ocean.

Falasarna beach

Definitely amongst my top #5 favorite vacation activities.

But sadly we couldn’t stay so we packed up our wet clothes, shook off our sandy feet and headed for the airport. Corey assured me we wouldn’t be the smelliest kids on the plane because “it’s Europe and it’s the height of backpacker season.” He wasn’t wrong.

And that was the last of our Greek vacation. Corey flew back to the states at the literal crack of dawn and I followed at a more civilized hour. I was sad to go and I’ll be so pleased to come back.

Greece is so easy. It’s easy to get there, easy to get around, the people are friendly and welcoming, everyone speaks English and there’s something for everyone. If you feel like you need a Greek vacation, I think you probably do.

If I manage to get my act together, I’ll do one more post with a few of my favorite memories/pictures from the trip.

Aliens in Rachel Nevada

Nevada Mountains

Nevada State Motto: Take your pictures from the middle of the road!

Rachel Nevada

And speaking of that, this is Rachel Nevada. By that I mean that this is the sign signifying the entrance to Rachel and in the background is the village of Rachel. Squint. There’s not much to it but I promise it’s there.

Rachel Nevada is famous for plane crashes, UFO sightings, proximity to Area 51, and for just simply being a teensy tinsy speck of habitation in a wide flat array of empty desert.

Rachel and the surrounding countryside remind me strongly of X-Files episodes where green flashes light up the sky, the cars stall out and all the clocks stop (at which point Mulder gets out his can of orange spray paint and puts a huge X in the road so he can further investigate). I drove through Rachel during the day but I can only imagine that driving through at night begets stories of bizarre happenings. The desert in this area is so alien and uninhabited and the most remarkable thing is this place.

Little Ale Inn Rachel NevadaSome detours are worth taking all by themselves – Escape from Dinosaur Kingdom – and some places are better visited en route to somewhere else. I’d put Rachel in the second category except that it’s not really en route to anywhere and I might think differently if I had stayed the night at the Little A’le’Inn (so bewildered by the apostrophes, btw…).

Little Ale Inn Rachel Nevada

Little A’le’Inn is the only bar/restaurant/inn for 80 miles in any direction so everyone stops here. I came in on a Saturday afternoon right after a memorial service that had turned into a happy hour. The locals were nicely dressed in cowboy hats and button down shirts, sitting outside at the picnic table getting tanked on Coors Light and Black Velvet. That’s a story rich environment if ever I’ve seen one. Had I more time, I’d have joined them and heard every UFO story there is and some besides.

Little A'le'Inn Rachel Nevada

Sadly, I didn’t have that kind of time so I ordered my Alien Stout, brewed for the Little A’le’Inn and quite delicious, and a grilled cheese sandwich. There’s nothing fancy here at the Little A’le’Inn but the food is good, all the locals are friendly and the gift shop and accompanying alien merchandise have to be seen to be believed.

Had I to do this detour over, I would plan to stay overnight in one of the Little A’le’Inn’s double wide trailers ($50 a night, I hear), I’d make sure I had plenty of X-Files episodes loaded on my laptop and while the sun went down, I’d order another Alien Stout and say “Tell me about the woman who got advice from an alien named Archibald…”

Rachel NevadaBye bye Nevada! You’ve been a picturesque treat.

Tomorrow AZ.

Goodbye to New Mexico

jen and katie

Jen and I have been friends for 25 years. Considering this sampling of pictures from our past, we’ve decided we look better with age :)

We’ve seen each other through a lot of change in the past decades. These kiddos are some of favorite additions



Ruby and Kaitlyn

I love this little fashionista with her long legs and her pink fascinator

kate marie

kate marie

And this tiny terror with her pigtails and sunglasses.

I’m so glad I got to hang out for a week and be a part of the Silver City White family. Much love to Jen, Shawn, Ruby and Kate Marie. Thanks for the gardening, potato salad, visits to the chemistry lab, political debates and yoga sessions. I can’t wait to come back!

State road 78

Now I’m back on the road, headed to AZ for a brief stop with my brother

The old west highway

Arizona tomorrow


Driving in Spain

Having driven all over the states this year, I figured it might be time to try driving in a foreign country. So far, every country I’ve been in where a rental car was involved, the driving’s all been on the “wrong” side of the road and I didn’t do any of it. Thank God. I have enough to worry about when I drive without also turning everything I know backwards and upside down.

Given that, I determined that Spain drove on the “right” side of the road by looking out the airplane window at the traffic as we landed in Madrid and heaving a sigh of relief. Note to self, might want to check that out slightly further in advance next time. Other things I might want to consider in the future include the purchase of a Tom-Tom or GPS device to which I can download maps. God bless Corey for leaving his Tom-Tom with me or I’d still be in Barcelona going around and around the roundabouts.

Even with a Tom-Tom, it’s tricky to get places. The Spaniards like to repeat names of towns, streets and plazas and half this country was built 1000 years ago so a generously sized one lane roads looks like this:

And my little Audi (Anika) is a compact car so… you can only imagine how petite the roads are when they allow parking on  both sides and someone’s driving a full sized anything. We’ve definitely parked Anika in some spaces where we couldn’t open both doors to get out and exited a few tight corners by way of 25 point turns. When there were two of us to read signs and look for stuff it was a bit easier. Now when I go down the wrong road or there’s a dead end, I have a strong temptation to just park the car and get out because the idea of reversing for a quarter mile or executing another 25 point turn seems a bit daunting. However, I’m getting really good at estimating my car size to within half an inch and so far, so good. Everyone please knock on anything wooden in your vicinity.

However, when I rented this car I forgot the cardinal rule of rental cars on vacation which is that they make you think you can do more and go further than you really should, which results in half the vacation time spent in a car.

This trip is no exception.

Also, PS: Spain is huge. It’s big for Europe but it’s also just big. The fastest legal speed is 120km, which isn’t that fast although it feels like it when it’s a two lane mountain road with constant switchbacks. Plus the fast direct toll roads carved straight through the mountains are frighteningly expensive (approximately 8 Euros per 100km). This all means that the best way to put the vacation back into the rental car experience is to ditch the toll roads, take the two lane roads, accept that everything will take forever (food service, travel times etc.) and save my mental energy for figuring out the road signs because there are a bunch I still don’t understand.

Here are the ones I recognize:

SpainTwo lane road going each direction, which is good information to know because you can’t tell this information from the size of the road or the way it’s striped down the middle.

SpainThis sign means “Technically two lanes but feel free to create a passing lane in the middle if the guy ahead of you isn’t responding when you tailgate him.” Corey figured this one out.

One of my favorites. I think it’s a cautionary tale about going too slow and/or going too fast or possibly about the dangers of driving a car that has eyes and a propeller.

And finally:

Yield to stick figures on seated lawn mowers.

Speaking of seeing the unexpected, I drove past a guy on a Vespa today who was chugging down the shoulder doing about 20km. He had a chest of drawers strapped to the seat behind him and he was smoking a cigarette and wearing shorts and sandals. I definitely yielded to him and I think he should get his own sign.

Getting Unstuck

Those who’ve known me a long time were surprised when I went on a road trip. Probably the most common question I got was “Doesn’t it bother you to do all that driving by yourself?” and they were even more surprised when I said “No. I love it.”

I didn’t get my driver’s license until I turned 27. And I’m not a New Yorker. Really I only got my driver’s license because I lived in Tucson, which is an almost impossible town to get around in unless you have a car. Between the weather, the abysmal public transportation and the lack of sidewalks on major streets, it’s dangerous sweaty work to walk in Tucson. So, I learned to drive. But I never liked it.

I reluctantly drove around Tucson after I got my license and bought a truck but made an effort never to go anywhere out of the city. Highway driving made me nervous. My best friends and boyfriends have always liked to drive so I took up residence as navigator/conversationalist/music changer/burger unwrapper in the passenger seat and loved every minute of the rides where I didn’t have to drive.

I’m not sure when that changed. Probably on tour because tour changed a lot of things about how I feel and what I like and what scares me.

The road trip I took in April was exhilarating. I loved getting in the car every day with only the idea of where I would end up but not the route I’d take. Getting lost was fun, making all the decisions was fun, driving down 2-lane highways in the mountains with really loud music on was super fun.

After 5 weeks of driving almost 10,000 miles, I got used to driving and learned how much it sinks into your body and frees your mind to think about other things. I got great writing ideas while I drove. I learned to drive and write quick shorthand on a legal pad at the same time (Dad, you didn’t read that. It was only for short periods of time and I was careful.)

Today I got incredibly stuck writing. I wrote and rewrote and edited and hated it and added things and started new drafts and looked at the blank white screen full of sentences I despised and didn’t know how to stop. How to unstick myself. But I remembered the experience of driving and hearing words play through my head so I grabbed my keys and got in my truck and just drove for about 45 minutes. I drove in silence. Then I put on some music. Then I got to the end of that album and I drove in silence again. And I started to hear those ideas in my head again. I could feel the logjam in my chest break up and let words out. And I thought, “thank God it worked.”

It’s crucial for me to figure out how to unstick myself. That’s crucial for anyone but I feel it keenly right now because I have a finite period of time in this golden hour where I have time and money and ideas and a place all at the same time. I have to make them count and I don’t have time to be stuck.

You know what else unsticks me? Spring rolls.

Spring Rolls

And Thai kha nang panang -red curry with chicken. The hotter the better.

Thai Red Curry What unsticks you?

The So Cal Kid and Highway 1

Definitely started getting sick yesterday and woke up to a cold today. I got started late and decided to hit the the Holy Roast coffee shop (I’d question the name but I don’t have the energy) in Santa Rosa before I left town. The kid behind the register looked like a Southern California version of a guy I worked with on Wizard of Oz. He had long braids, wide open brown eyes, a sweet manner, no ability to do his job and no awareness of a problem.

So Cal Kid: Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Can I get an Americano and a yogurt parfait? And change for the meter?

SCK: Of course! Oh, wait. We don’t have much change. I may not be able to give you change.

Silent face off while I look at him working in a coffee shop surrounded only by metered parking with no change at 9AM and no options. He looks at me quietly. Sweetly. Silently. Probably just waiting for me to speak. So I did:

Me: can we make change out of your tip jar?

SCK: oooh, I don’t know. (He looks at his compatriot coffee maker. She must do all the heavy lifting in the thinking department. She nods.) Oh, OK!

He digs out change.

SCK: thanks so much! Have a great day!

Me: yogurt?

SCK: Oh right!

He gets yogurt out of the case. Sets it down. Walks away. I pick it up and it’s sticky all down the side. I go to the coffee station and they are out of napkins.  I go back to the front.

SCK: (sweetly) Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Do you have napkins? I’m sorry. There aren’t any in the coffee station and it’s all sticky…

SCK: Oh goodness! Let me clean that off.

He does and returns it to me with napkins.

I pick it up and go back to the coffee station for a spoon. They are out of spoons. I go back to the front counter.

SCK: (sweetly) Can I help you?

(He seems to have a reset button wherein he neither remembers me nor gets annoyed nor has any ability to forsee my questions)

Me: I’m so sorry. Can I get a spoon?

SCK: Of course!

He brings me a spoon. By this point I have to feed the meter again because this process has taken 15 minutes and I only planned to be there for 30. I run out, leaving all my stuff in the shop, shove change into the meter and come back in with a flood of people. I sit down at my table and realize I never got my coffee.


The very LAST thing I want is to see this kid again. Ever. But he’s plugged into a brain wipe and doesn’t remember that I exist or that I ordered coffee so I have to go back up and remind him.

He sees me come back up to the counter and get in line behind the flood of people but only attends to the kids in front of me. In every case, he rings people up, hands them change and cheerily tells them to have a good day while they stand there awkwardly and wait for him to remember that they ordered things. Then they remind him. Then he acts surprised, like “Oh, is that what we do here!?” and scrambles to get their food. But he’s so sweet natured about it that people laugh instead of getting annoyed. Is this a super power? I have to think so.

When I get up to the counter (now my 4th time in 20 minutes) he has that look that says he recognizes me but can’t figure out from where. Then he smiles:

SCK: can I help you??

Me: I ordered coffee.

SCK: Oh! Riiiiight.

Me: I didn’t get it.

SCK: Oh! Ok. Um. What was it?

I suppress a strong temptation to say “a pound of your most expensive coffee and a large Americano with 5 shots” knowing that he won’t remember and will just give it to me and wish me a great day (again). But his coffee compatriot sweeps him aside at this point and says, “Americano, right?”

Then she makes it.

Then she gives it to me.

And it takes about a minute.

Well, 26 minutes, actually. But about a minute of actual work on someone else’s part.

I fed the meter again, had breakfast and left.

Santa Rosa, I don’t know what you’re putting in your water but you might want to stop.

The rest of the day was long but beautiful. Here’s Highway 1 through northern California:

This little nondenominational meditation chapel sits outside Sea Ranch, CA. I don’t know what it’s supposed to resemble, but someone called it the “conquistador helmet church” and I like that.

Beautifully built by a local artist, both inside and out.

And then back to the ocean…

And the mountains:

Don’t you wish you’d been there?

Tomorrow: Redwoods

See you then.

I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells.

Started here this morning:

Ended here tonight:

I have about 1000 pictures of the Pacific ocean from the California coast. It’s such a difficult thing to photograph and no picture ever captures what it’s like to sit on the beach watching the surf pound on the shore as the sun sets with sailboats silhouetted against the horizon. Magical.

Mostly drove today. Started listening to The Help on audiotape and LOVE it already. I’m very curious how the written version reads. I find the auditory version delectable for the character voices, accents and personalities. Those are hard things to convey in written form.

Notable today: an inventive use of trash at Tio’s Tacos in Riverside:

The beer bottle chapel:

It all feels so familiar, doesn’t it? The creative recycling, the all consuming love of concrete, the folk art and religious shrines. I could ask why (and would have, had the artist, Martin Sanchez, been around) but I’m finding that my questions for these artists go deeper than an hour long conversation about inspiration. I want to delve back and find that first point where they picked up a beer bottle, watched the light shine through it and pictured a wall; or saw a stuffed monkey and decided to make a jungle:

At what point did they need to purchase land to house their collections?

Who was the first person they ignored who said “creating a figure out of bottle caps is ridiculous!”

How many legal permits did they obtain to build their wonderlands? Are there ever enough admirers to make it worthwhile or is the act of creation enough?

After some wondering and picture taking and shaking my head, I kept driving until I ran out of road in San Clemente and then ate delicious ceviche at La Siesta:

And watched the sun set on the beach.

2 reasons to love California.

You have a full week of beach pictures coming at you! Aren’t you excited?

All right, keep it down. The neighbors will talk.

More tomorrow. See you then

West Texas, metal art and no yoga

It was bound to happen. Especially with the way that I hate doing yoga in the morning and the way that I procrastinate and the pesky way that all the hours in the day are limited and I can’t seem to do everything: I missed yoga this morning. SUCH a bummer. I was actually in my car and driving but knew that I wasn’t going to make it. And even worse, I knew that it would be so close that I’d likely be pulling into the parking lot just as class began.


The more so because it’s beginning of a several day hiatus from yoga as I’ll stay in places where it’s not available. But clearly I have a lot going on so occasionally something has to go. And I got to spend an extra hour this morning hanging out with Cynthia and figuring out the rest of my week, which was quite valuable. The next time I get all sweaty and stretchy I’ll be in Tucson, about 6 days from now.

So instead of Bikram, I had the next best B word:

With Scott and Jeremy, the brothers Branks. We did the Original Market Diner in Dallas and though my waitress was bereft of a beehive and didn’t call me “honey,” it was still a great diner experience. It was also the only thing I ate all day. I think I had a bit of a food hangover after Samar, if such a thing is possible, and it contributed to me getting up late and missing yoga. Bikram probably would have helped…

After breakfast I hit the road, leaving Dallas in the early afternoon without much on my mind or my agenda except getting to Amarillo by nightfall, which sounds like a country song. Getting out of Dallas was a horror show. Narrow 2 lane detour highways created with miles of orange traffic cones, giant trucks that fill up my rearview mirror, a complete lack of ability to tell where I am, how I got there or how to get out and no exits might be my idea of hell. Driving without navigating will get me lost. Driving while navigating might get me killed. No winning. Just losing. Welcome to Dallas.

I finally busted out of that mess, traffic dropped off and I took 287 West up through Wichita Falls. There was a lot of this:

And this:

Interspersed with some of this:

So when this showed up, I had to turn around a take a picture:

Mannequins dressed in bikinis in the back of a Cadillac parked in the driveway of the only house in 20 miles on Highway 287. No rhyme. No reason. Just girls with their hair blowing in the wind getting a little air and checking out the sights.

I bet several truckers think it’s the real thing until they pass it up. So… that’s curious.

And then more miles of this:

And this:

Which was all cool in a Friday Night Lights sort of way. Given that I’ve been driving in Texas for a day and a half and I’m still not out, I can see why Texans think they’re a separate continent. It’s an island of grass and cows and more grass and a few trees and long empty roads stretching into the horizon. Mesmerizing.

I turned up 83 so I could travel the last bits by Route 66 and at the junction of 83 and 66, I found this and had to stop:

This is George Garza’s house and he’s (obviously) a metal artist who recycles old machinery, paints it and positions it artfully in little gardens.

He has a Georgia O’Keefe thing for skulls:

And he said this piece was his first one (a corn grinder that he made into a totem):

He has a glorious decorated shop behind his house:

And his house is right on the highway so he’s decorated his fences in a way that’s very inviting for strangers:

I caught him just as he was leaving and while he was really polite, answered my questions and invited me to spend all the time I wanted walking around and taking pictures, he was half in and half out of his truck and needed to be somewhere so I didn’t keep him.

I got to Amarillo after 2 hours of driving straight west into the setting sun on long flat Route 66 where things seem to pop up all of a sudden like a mirage. Very odd, that.

I’m here for the night and I’ll drive through the panhandle tomorrow and then up into New Mexico where I’ll spend the night in a special place.

More about that tomorrow.

See you then.

Americana along Route 66 and eating at Samar with Stephan Pyles

The end of my day and the beginning of my day belong in different universes. I started my day here:

I’m a fan of the Waffle House and the one I visited in Joplin MO was a particularly good one. Nice and clean, fast service, good food, in and out the door in about 30 minutes, which put me on the road late morning, headed out on the classic American road trip road:

Route 66 is hundreds of miles long and winds through several states and I’ll see parts of it here and there as I head further west. All along this road are pieces of Americana left over from the decades between 1950-1980 when families (including mine) took long road trips. Some of these pieces remain, like this classic:

Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale of Catoosa as an anniversary gift to his wife in the 1970s and surrounded it with a picnic area, a pond and a zoo in an Ark. The Ark has since fallen apart and in the 80’s the whale also fell into disrepair but then some Whale Boosters (I love those two words together) raised money and rebuilt it and gave it a fresh coat of paint.

Now the whale has a curator (with business cards) who remains devoted to keeping this little roadside attraction in good shape.

A little further down the road is another Route 66 attraction:

Recently rebuilt after a fire destroyed everything except the 4 rock walls and the giant iron stove in the kitchen. The owner, Dawn Welch, was the model for the car “Sally” in Cars and the café serves down home food. I stopped and had some great peach cobbler, but knowing what the evening had in store for me I’d have had a cup of coffee and taken a picture and kept on driving.
I did a lot of driving today and didn’t see much beyond those two attractions. I’d have liked to stay on Route 66 but I had to go south to Dallas where friends and dinner reservations were waiting. It wasn’t a frantic day of driving but I didn’t get any yoga in either, so I was happy to get out of the car at 6pm when I finally pulled into town. I got a brief chance to talk to my high school friend Cynthia, her kids and her parents before she and I changed and headed downtown to go to Samar.

Samar is a Stephan Pyles restaurant, named one of Esquire’s 20 best new restaurants of 2010. Stephan Pyles is a James Beard award winner, he’s had his own TV show and he’s the only celebrity chef with whom I have any connection because he happens to be good friends with my friends Scott and Cynthia. Don’t you love it when that happens? I met Stephan the last time I was in Dallas but didn’t get to eat at his restaurants so I wanted to make sure I did this time.
It was Tuesday night so we didn’t have trouble getting a table on the patio. We expected that maybe Scott would join us so we told the waiter to set the table for 3 and she took the 4th place setting away. She then brought us drinks and we ordered the first couple plates. Samar’s food merges influences from India, Spain and the Eastern Mediterranean. Plates are meant to be shared and that means we’d get to taste a lot of different things. We figured we’d order 4 or 5 plates and share them all. The first plate came out:

House made naan with hummus, moutabal (smoked eggplant, like babaganoush) and labne (thick creamy yogurt).

And the waiter brought a 4th plate and said “Scott and Stephan should be here in about 10 minutes.” Oh good, Scott’s going to make it. Wait a minute, Stephan? Stephan Pyle’s coming to eat with us at his own restaurant? We get to eat with the chef? Whoa.


And then the Executive Chef – Jonathan – came out to introduce himself and say that Stephan had called ahead and asked him to prepare the chef’s tasting menu for us and did that sound ok? He would just have the waiter take the menus because we wouldn’t need them and since Stephan was running late, he said to just start bringing food out. If there was anything we needed, just ask. It was a pleasure to cook for us. Thanks for coming in.

Let’s be very clear that from this point forward I cannot be objective because I’m sitting on the breezy cool patio of a gorgeous restaurant created and designed by a famous award winning chef who will now be ordering for me and eating with me. It simply doesn’t get better than that.

But perhaps a tasting of pictures? How about my favorite subject to start, “patatas y chorizo con huevo organico,” potatoes and chorizo with a fried egg:

Or this called “Tres Vasos” filled with such esoteric things as lemon air, vanilla scented potatoes and foie gras mousse:

Possibly this? “manti maa lehme,” “Lahmacun” and “battah tangine maa couscous” – or lamb “pizza,” Turkish pasta in a yogurt garlic sauce so good you want to drool on yourself and duck confit over couscous:

And that’s just a sampling! We ate things off the menu, we ate things I can’t remember, we ate things I didn’t take pictures of because I was eating. We ate for hours.

And Stephan actually took time from his busy life and the planning he’s doing for an event this weekend called the Buffalo Gap Food and Wine Summit and he ate with us. He told us where he got some inspiration for the dishes and recounted stories of hunting for restaurant furnishings in the Damascus markets and fighting with his designer to get them all incorporated. He was charming and lovely and interested in the food and when we finished everything he said “dessert?” then looked around the table and said to the waiter “bring us one of everything.”
Here’s are some of my favorites:

I started with the candied ginger stuffed semolina croquettes (at the bottom right) and put my hands in the air in what Scott called a “Pentecostal moment” because I just couldn’t contain myself over the subtle aromatic flavors. My final bite was the dark dense rich delicious Turkish coffee pot de crème (bottom left) and that small pot seemed to last forever because the flavors were so intense and powerful. Stephan had a bite of everything, seemed to make notes of things he might change and then had to run back to his obligations. But we three stayed while the moon came up over the patio. They lit the firepit and we talked about art, photography, travel and pending screenplays over fragrant licorice tea and a hookah pipe with rose flavored smoke.

Perfectly perfect perfection. Thank you to Jonathan for incredible food. Thank you to Stephan for his unparalleled generosity. Thank you to Lisa for her waitstaff skills arranging the table and smiley patience while I took pictures during her descriptions of all the food. And to Scott and Cynthia for companionship, conversation, smoke blowing, story telling and years and years of shared history.

I’m too stuffed to move and have yoga tomorrow. Pray for me.
See you tomorrow.

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.