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USA

Gobble wobble...

...Thanksgiving with cosmos

overcast 11 °C
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I unwittingly spent Thanksgiving in San Francisco last week. Flying back to the west coast for interviews, I needed to be in town and getting over jet lag before my first interview. Virtually everyone I know was gone for the holiday, so I ended up taking myself for a motorcycle ride that day, and then treated moi to a tasty turkey dinner at the House of Prime Rib, one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. Since I was flying out to Seattle and Portland in a couple days for the interviews, I took my notebook full of practice questions with me so as to get some studying done over dinner, and sat there with my cosmo and the biggest plate of food I've ever seen, mulling things over, and talking to myself. I'm sure folks thought I was mental - gesturing across the food trough and talking toward an empty seat across from me.

Seriously, that was more food than I've seen at one time in the last 6 months. While the food was quite delicious, the sheer quantity was a bit....well...disgusting. Honestly, it put me off my appetite the second it came to the table - it looked like a platter for 4. If you're planning on going there, I recommend SHARING a plate! One cosmo was all it took, and I was tipsy. Thankfully, the food caused a sort of mini heart attack in which my heart started pumping like mad, and seemed to take care of the alcohol in short order.

I proceeded to drive home and pop a bottle of champagne and watch Napoleon Dynamite for the hundredth time. It was a relaxing day, though I did miss the antics of my family - never a dull moment, with shots of whiskey over the turkey deep fryer, food fights, and pie stealing, my family takes the cake (or pie) when it comes to entertainment value during Thanksgiving.

My friends, who graciously allowed me to stay in their house while they were away for the holiday, came home a day early, so I got to hang out with them. It was an unexpected and fantastic surprise, especially since I haven't seen them in about a million years! Their friend Steve, who they introduced me to, was hilarious, but made me yawn a little bit. ;-)

I'm now sitting in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Seattle...right next to a really irritating fountain that's making me have to pee. I had the first of 2 interviews yesterday, and the next one tomorrow in Portland. Half way there!

Posted by kmpossible 15:06 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Illinois...

...where the men are men and the goats are scared!

all seasons in one day 21 °C
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Ah Illinois...land of corn...and fast food. Eating at my Dad's was a highlight to the trip - he cooked chicken in the smoker (a 6 hour process), venison steaks on the grill (from a deer my Dad shot last spring), and served up as much beer as you could drink. Aside from that, the only food options in Galesburg where we stayed were fast food joints and bars - deep fried appetizers, french fries, burgers, etc. No wonder folks in that area seem to be expanding well beyond a conceivable waistline. I often wondered why I get sick every time I go back to Illinois, and I think I've cracked it. It's the unhealthy food! I'm convinced. Aside from at my Dad's, I barely glimpsed a fresh, un-fried vegetable crossing my plate, or feedbag, during meals. Even breakfast was a challenge - I had to order eggs and toast ala carte in order to avoid getting 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 strips of bacon, a "mammoth muffin", toast, AND hash browns. It's obviously cheap to eat this way, as the big breakfast was only about five bucks...and getting more for less must be a good thing, right? Not exactly. Just ask your heart after eating all that...well, fat. "I'll take the big breakfast....and....hmmmm...well, yes, a cardiac surgeon."

I'm absolutely terrified at the changes in the landscape in the nearly 10 years since my departure from the "Bible Belt", where religious zealotry is rivaled only in, well, any other extremist, narrow minded religious community. But I digress. There are no more hedgerows or fences between fields for that matter, and virtually no trees whatsoever in/near the fields, as they've all been ripped out in order to enslave more of the tortured topsoil to the almighty Corn. It's a big problem. A monoculture is a bad idea, no matter what variety - it encourages disease among the species, depletes the soil (and/or other resources) of certain necessary nutrients, and then requires tons of chemicals to feed it and keep it pest free. ...for the interested reader: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (more info here: http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php). Where have all the animals gone? To the factory farms, that's where - another large monoculture, requiring antibiotics in order to live, and passing on disease to us.

I got to catch up with my friends Monita and Jamie Jo while I was in Illinois - here's a photo from our night out...good times!
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We wrangled up some cold beers at a bar called Crappy's North (!) and sat around a big table with my dad, Mike, and some other people I went to high school with, whom I haven't seen in over 10 years, including Larua Jean Cheline (now Johnson) and Money (his real name is Mike). The band actually finished it's set with Free Bird...I thought they were joking until several folks pulled out their Bics. There's a lot of that going on in Illinois, nicknames, I mean. Scruffy & Bits, Meathead, Moose, Horndog, and HarleyJon to name a few. What a bunch of characters! It was great to catch up with the folks from school, and also friends of the family who came to Dad's on Saturday night - quite a few motorcycles arrived! Also, my sister, her husband and their 2 girls visited, as did my grandma, and my mom came out for a while as well - a good time was had by all.

Posted by kmpossible 08:09 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

2 Weeks in San Francisco

...with 2 dear friends...

sunny 23 °C
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September 9 - 22nd were spent in San Francisco. After 8 hours of food poisoning on the flight from Tokyo, I was ready to relax and catch up with friends in the city. Things didn't exactly work out as I had envisioned them.

I did get to see and catch up with many friends in SF, but the relaxing didn't really come to fruition until the last weekend, when we went to the Zen House (big sigh) in Russian River...more on that in a minute. Recovering from food poisoning in conjunction with jet lag was a new and unimagined hell that I would never wish on anyone. Late in the day for about the first 5 days, my head would start to get very heavy, my thoughts raced, my heart raced, and my eye lids felt like they were made of lead. It felt like I was starting to fall asleep, even though I was walking around, riding in a car, or sitting down to dinner. It was nearly impossible to carry on a conversation (as you know if you saw me during those first few days!)...I was conversationally impaired, to say the least.

Here's a photo from a night out in the city.
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On top of trying to get well, I was trying to work out the logistics of getting my house sitter out of my apartment. The place was in such a state...you wouldn't believe it. If you were house sitting, would you not tidy up a bit when the owners came home? ...me too...I guess not everyone would, as I found out. There was stuff everywhere, boxes yet to be unpacked (after 3 months??), cat hair EVERYWHERE, a broken knob on the shower, smoke detector dangling off the wall with battery removed, wine stains on the carpet, a huge pile of baking soda in the bottom of the oven, a pile of dirty dishes, and all the furniture/pictures had been rearranged into a very un-feng shui configuration. Again, I try to put myself into another's shoes: if you were house sitting would you: rearrange the furniture? Move the wall hangings? Break stuff and not tell anyone? Not pay rent? Avoid talking with the owners? Avoid picking the owners up at the airport WITH THEIR OWN VEHICLE? Let your cat scratch and ruin the sofas? Myself, I answered no to all these questions, as I'm sure you did too. So you can understand my incredulity at this behavior. We offered the apartment/house sit at a huge discount because we were requiring a bit of work on the house sitter's part: communication over email to let us know that everything is ok, and water the plants. The response was HUGE on Craigslist, so I was able to re-rent/arrange a house sitter very quickly. ...instead of relaxing and catching up with the friends I didn't get to see. I'm still pissed (can you tell?) about the whole ordeal, but I am happy for the time I did get to spend with my friends.

During this sub-optimal home coming, Mike and I stayed with our dear friends, Peter and Brent (and their dog, Leo), in their lovely home in San Francisco. They were our saving grace - fed us, encouraged us to imbibe some lovely wine, and invited us to their Zen House in Guerneville (Russian River) to relax at the end of our stay in SF. These two have a knack for creating peaceful space...I never get such good rest as the rest I get at Zen House. They also both happen to be fantastic cooks, so we ate like kings. I contributed by making red velvet cupcakes - 5 each over the course of 3 days. Yes, there were tears on the last day when I had eaten my 5 already and tried to take one of Peter's. I think I raised some feathers with that one! ;-) The weekend was certainly the high point of our return. Sitting in the hot tub late at night telling stories and looking up at the stars between the redwood trees...can you think of a more peaceful evening? ...thanks a million guys, I love you!

Posted by kmpossible 10:41 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Birthday Dinner

French Japanese Fusion, not your every day sushi croissants!


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El Paseo in Mill Valley, California was the location of my birthday dinner last Saturday night.


Mike treated me to a lovely five course tasting menu with wine pairings, coffee and dessert. The place isn't visible from the street, you have to walk down a cobblestone walkway (which is TREACHEROUS in high heels!) between a few buildings, to the entrance of the restaurant. The clientele seemed a bit stuffy to me, but the food...ah the food!

We had split pea soup served in little shot glasses, foie gras with pureed artichokes (served with a glass of 1960 port wine), snapper with caviar, and duck with roasted endive. Every bite made my eyes close, and every sip of wine was like a rush of tingly dancing bubbles on my tongue.

As we sat eating course after lovely, sumptuous course, we could overhear a table behind us getting louder and louder. Mike drew my attention to their table about halfway through our 3-hour dining experience to show me why. There between the 5 of them were about 7 empty bottles of wine...and they were still going! I must admit that I, too, was feeling a bit tipsy...after all, we did drink about a bottle and a half of (really REALLY good) wine each! That of course made the trip back to the truck even more treacherous over the cobblestones, but luckily Mike was steady, and we made it unscathed!

As if this weren't enough, I also got a 2005 Harley Davidson Buell, Firebolt as a birthday gift from Mike!
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Of course, he got one too! They're fun and FAST! We'll greatly miss them while we're on the road.

Posted by kmpossible 18:18 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

This place called Earth

...so many things to learn, so many cocktails to try!

sunny 18 °C

In true KimPossible style, I took myself out for lunch today after selling an old motorcycle helmet on craigslist - to a place called Pacific Catch on Chestnut Street in San Francisco. The food is AMAZING...let me tell you. I truly LOVE this place! Best to go for lunch though, as the dinner crowd is, well, crowded! Between 2 and 4pm you can get a seat at the bar or a little table in front and basically have the place to yourself. However, you can put your little name on a list in the evening, and then saunter over to a nearby watering hole to prime the plumbing for the tasty fresh catch.

Today I had a rice bowl with grilled Mahi-Mahi, and a pineapple salsa that was WAY too spicy for my delicate palette! =) ...maybe I should have had more beer? As I sat drinking my 21oz Sapporo I had a brief conversation with a local named Chris, who happens to be a windsurfer. We talked about the joys of voluntary (or otherwise) unemployment and the doors it opens later in your life, believe it or not. Traveling is a choice that anyone can make...it's the things we tell ourselves we CAN'T do that hold us back. He has made a similar journey in his life to the one I'm about to make, and made note of the fact that most people when confronted with the knowledge that "I just quit my job to go travel for an indeterminate amount of time" will have a physical and visceral response...something like "Ooooooh maaaaan! I WISH I could do something like THAT!!! (while cringing and wincing)" Well, I say: Do it, damn it! You only go around once, and don't look back & say "gee if only I had..." If you really want it, you'll find a way to do it!

Anyway, I intended to try some lovely imbibement (come on, poetic license please!) that I saw on the menu after my Sapporo, but ended up with yet another Sapporo plopped down in front of me just after my fellow traveller left the restaurant. Thanks Chris!

This planet is my home, and I intend on making as many people smile every day as I possibly can...even if the only person that happens for is ME!

Posted by kmpossible 17:09 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (2)

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