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What a weekend!  Team Tim and Andrea just returned from a sun- and fun-filled tour of Southern Michigan.  While the casual citizen of the world might yawn and roll over to the words ‘Southern Michigan,’ TTA now know better.  Peaches, blueberries, wines, grape vodka, sun, sand, waves, and small-town fairs, (with sequined horse-riding youth) greeted us just over an hour outside our hustling Chicago.  Had you any idea?  Neither did we!

After filling up on cheese grits and banana pancakes at the legendary Sweet Maple Cafe, we drove through Indiana as quickly as possible and headed to our midwest paradise!  Those words are no longer an oxymoron!

The wineries out there were really cute and homegrown, with mostly friendly folks pouring lots of wine.  I think the Round Barn was the Team favorite, which was purchased in Indiana and moved –in pieces– to MI, where nice Amish folks reassembled it for our pleasure.  They had some fruity dessert wines and a grape vodka that made a smooth martini, and Tim couldn’t stop posing in front of the barn.  We also ran into a “town” fair, with Driers’ family-owned cured meats and some soft and squishy coffee-can corn bread, an art fair, with live twangy music, more wineries (I think we hit 6 in all), and bigger waves in that freshwater “ocean” than I’ve seen in some parts of San Diego.

Back in Oak Park, Tim is nursing his crispy skin.  That much fun has some consequences.

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It’s been a bit busy lately–we went to Seattle and have been ushering a lot. (seriously, yesterday’s play, which I liked, and the transportation to and from it basically tanked our day). Andrea‘s astounding picassa show was up way before my lazy ass could post this pile of words! up later, but in the meantime here’s a foodcentric rundown of last weekend:

  • Broke fast at tilth, wonderful tilth (our waiter’s tourette’s led to about 30 dollars worth of heirloom bloody mary’s)
  • At a new ice-cream place in Wallingford, I attempted to eat the strangest sundae ever: chocolate ice cream, bergamot-infused olive oil, sea salt, and whipped cream. Will stick to the basics next time.
  • For a bus tour of Seattle, bought some lemonade, tequila, and sunglasses. One should never ride a hot bus in Seattle without a thermos of faux margaritas.
  • Arrived at the Madison Park beach in the mid to upper 80’s, which inspired Andrea to jump in the lake.
  • Landed at Green Leaf, a terrific new Vietnamese place in the ID. Andrea doesn’t like Vietnamese food usually, but she dug Green Leaf (maybe it was the blood cube in her soup).
  • Watched Mariner’s beat the Pods, danced with the little one, and had one more beer at the best bar on Phinney ridge.
  • Woke up, shook off hangover, walked to Senor Moose and ate some fancy beans.
  • Hit the Ballard farmer’s market and walked away with some frozen blueberries, four pounds of rhubarb, and lot of green garlic, mint, and #2 heirlooms.
  • Had a leisurely afternoon making a prosecco sangria (with mangos, canteloupe, grapefruit and the rest of that pomegranate lemonade), blue-cheese/chipotle turkey burgers, roasted potato/garlic salad, a big green salad with the market’s bounty, and a giant rhubarb/blueberry crisp.
  • Proceeded to feed a lot of people this food. Had a contest with Natty to see who could expand their belly the most. Unexpectedly, I lost.
  • Luckily, this boring list comes to life in Andrea’s pictures!
  • Retired to Silver Cloud stadium, which had been billed as ‘close to pike’s place market’ on Hotwire. I noticed afterward that the highlighted portion of the map had a small strip that extended several miles south to include this place. Did Tom DeLay end up working for hotwire?
  • Met with folks at UW, did a little work.
  • Dinner at Jerry’s where I got to meet Ida, who is so cute that she makes buttons look like shit.
  • Post-dinner at Micah’s. Had such a good time talking I never even thought about getting out their wii.
  • The next day, after several aborted meetings, we went to Salumi. It’s a Seattle institution that I’ve never paid my respects too. It’s sort of like being the only guy to have not seen Star Wars, but for foodies. (that’s a little more tasteful than the ‘lost my meat virginity’ phrase that I was originally going to toss out)
  • Attended the department’s awards banquet which had a nice spread and the vundervul Andreas handling mike duties. Andrea was a little overwhelmed by the sea of nerds. Fortunately Paul C. lightened the mood with tails of dropping stuff (beds, etc) on people when he was at the top of one of Columbia’s student towers.
  • Andrea stayed out way late with her ‘reans. I was not invited to their karaoke party at China Gate Great Wall, but should’ve crashed it in retrospect. I guess calling and asking if a “group of Koreans” are at the asian restaurant is a version of crashing. Andrea also apologized for getting carried away and making me worry which I appreciated. What a sweetie!
  • Took a bus to the airport and returned to Chicago. As a reminder to the fact that we were, indeed, back in Chicago, there was a gang-related shooting about 30 feet from our apartment. Yee haw.

Ok, kids, I was going to wax on about my new garden at Argonne, but apparently I’ve rambled too long so I’m waxing off.

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I forgot to mention, Andrea took some nice pictures when we were in San Diego. You can see them here.

(yes I know I have a very red face at times)

Here’s the road trip I got planned for Andrea, Lester and I:

  • Thursday night: Seattle to Spokane
  • Friday: Spokane to Billings, stop in Missoula, Bozeman
  • Saturday: Billings to Badland–might stay here
  • Sunday: Badlands to St. Peter (parent’s house)
  • Monday: St. Peter to Twin Cities (sister, etc)
  • Tuesday: Twin Cities to Chicago (stop at Grandma’s in Madison for lunch)

Here’s a map of the trip…Andrea will be in Chicago for till the following weekend, so that should be fun too!

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The last two weeks have been nuts. When things settle down a little–possibly in September–I’ll start posting a little more regularly. In the last couple weeks, I’ve been on two trips to BC and a quick jump to Chicago to get an apartment (more on that later…) The first trip to Canada was for Andrea’s 30th, where I got us some nice digs at the Sheraton in downtown Vancouver. I upgraded to the ‘really-high up’ suite where we had some excellent views. We did some great eating along the way including this Korean place that stays open till 5am and makes the most incredible cow-spine soup. Sounds gross, but it was quite possibly the best Korean food I’ve ever had. We had a decent breakfast at Elixer, followed by a really nice place for snacking called Salt, which was in an alley in gastown. Salt serves local meats and cheeses with some nice fixins (and really generous glasses of wine). Later we had an elaborate feast at the local institution for Indian food, Vij’s. I think the appetizers are the way to go here.

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This last weekend we went back to BC, but this time we took the ferry system to Pender island where Andrea’s noona (Kor: older sister) was attending a wedding with some friends. Between the cannucks at the reception, we were the babysitters for 6 kids (all under 2), which can really make you question ever having one for yourself. Truth be told, Andrea’s twin nephews David and Alex are quite cute…when they’re not bawling or pooping or whatever. Anyways I bushed..here are some more pictures from all that. I’m done with going to Canada for while though…those 1 hour long waits at the border (90 minutes today) get real old.

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Thought I’d squeeze a post in before I turn the wonderfully symmetric 3^3^3.  Things here are a little nuts–I’m trying to finish this class up and several papers while coordinating a move to Chicago.  I’ve narrowed down my choices and I’m targeting this neighborhood that is barely close enough to my new job (ok I’ll be working here and a little here too) while being somewhat urban.  In two weeks I’m flying out to quickly grab an apartment using a free referral service there.  They assure me there are tons of nice vintage apartments that are within my price range..we’ll see.  In between is a trip to Canada to see Andrea’s sister and nephews and a secret mystery trip for Andrea’s less symmetric 30th birthday. (well, I guess you could do something like 7+4*4+7, which is symmetric, but clunky)

Ok, I have to go put the final touches on my stat mech midterm.  On a related note, my students voted on a take home final–I told them that it would be harder and ultimately more work, but they still went that route.  (I guess they figure they can find the answers on wikipedia…)  If you have any devious problems that I should put on it, lemme know! (and don’t post them on wikipedia)