Sunday, February 1, 2009

Janie in Madison

Because I like to occasionally come back to the topic of Madison, Wisconsin, I thought it would only be appropriate if I focus on this city. I have lived here for seven months, this week. (I just had to stop and figure it out), and it really feels like home. Here is a recap of things I have been doing around here lately.

I should let you know that I have only left the state once since I have been here. Sounds crazy, I know. Because some of you know that I like to occasionally gallivant to places where my friends are. I am missing my old friends, dearly. I am hoping they will all come here when the weather breaks (they don't all embrace frigid temps like yours truly). I will soon be leaving the country, though. That's for another posting.

Thank goodness for my Mother bringing my hand-me-down cross country skis aboard the plane, because they are getting some use. I skied on Lake Mendota, avec my dog, who thoroughly enjoyed it, and then did a candlelight night ski in Ft. Atkinson, about 30 miles away from Madison. I am set to do another candlelight ski on the 14th. The trails are pitch black, except for bags with candles placed inside, along the center of the trail. When I went, the skiing was amazing. You could see all of the stars. It was, of course, below zero that night, but since I have my "uniform," I survived.

I have been enjoying the winter farmer's market. In fact, I just ate a sweet potato from there. The winter farmer's market is - get this- directly across from my apartment. In fact, one crazy Saturday morning, I was actually up at 6 AM, for a morning ski, and there they were - the farmers were unloading their produce into the building. It's literally 15 steps from my front door. They cook a breakfast, each week prepared by a different chef from gourmet restaurants in town. My experience has been that the meals are so incredible, there is usually a line to the entrance. Naturally, all of the ingredients are from the farmers. Scrumptious.

This brings me to a new topic. This past week was Restaurant Week in town. Participating restaurants selected a special three course meal for the price of $25/person. I finally got to experience L'Etoile, and I was not disappointed. Probably the most expensive restaurant in Madison, they fully support sustainable agriculture. In the restaurant, they feature a map of the state, and surrounding areas, which shows where all of their food comes from. The meal was incredible, and worth the money. I will be revisiting there again, but probably not until there is a special occasion. (Their chef prepared last week's farmer's market breakfast).

This weekend was in the 30s, which for Madison, was a heat wave. It was sunny, too. I was able to finally get in some outdoor running in, as opposed to my usual early morning treadmill routine.

So, I finally saw this outdoor lifestyle center that I have heard about. Because I have been so opposed to chains and such, I was sort of hesitant to experience the lifestyle center that is in the burbs. Today, it was suggested that we go to an undisclosed shoe store (chain). I was open to it because I need some more boots, but as soon as we got there, I didn't want to be there. Oh, let me explain what a lifestyle center is. The concept is an outdoor shopping area, which usually includes some plush landscaping, fountains, and is full of franchise type stores. I assume they do well in warm climates, but in a place like Wisconsin, one probably doesn't want to shop there, when you have to walk from one end to the other in below freezing temperatures. Because I am two blocks from State Street, which features many stores with the items I was checking out today, I was hesitant to give my money to these big chains. After walking into the third store, I said, "This is depressing me. We have to get back down town." I never thought I would say that, after living in Boston. But, it just doesn't make sense for me to give my money to a big corporation when I can give it to my neighbor. Literally. And so, we got the hell out of there.

I totally understand why people like lifestyle centers. Don't get me wrong. I just don't have the need for them at this time. A lot of people like going there because it gives them a sense of being surrounded by people. I get this. But, I have that where I am now. So, I probably won't be going back there.

And so, I have learned what areas I like and dislike. This is probably the longest I have gone without seeing a movie at Sundance. But, I did watch "Witness" this afternoon, where it was said by family and friends during the debut of the film that I looked identical to the little boy who plays Samuel. It was like looking in a mirror.

And just off the record - in the next month, I do plan on moving my blog. I need one that is easier to use links in, and I plan on adding a picture from time to time, so I will keep you posted on that.

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