Monday, August 30, 2010

The French Impact in Madison

As I traveled to Montreal in the cold season, I thought about the need to desperately brush up on my french. I don't know how good my french was when I studied it. I do know this: I really loved that class. My Parisian teacher commented to my parents in my report card back in 1997 or 1998 that I had a lot of enthusiasm for the language.

Let me start by telling you the most exciting thing that happened in Madison this weekend (which has something to do with France). I have blogged several times about Madison's Ride the Drive. I mentioned a special someone who was coming to promote it. The seven time winning Tour De France winner, Lance Armstrong was here! See my photos!! (I get star struck really easily.) I planted myself in a great spot to catch a glimpse, but didn't get any really good photos of him.

As I said, I am bike-a-phobic, but Dad and I walked a lot of the route in 88 degrees with my big, old, furry and hot golden retriever.

I am excited about the prospect of turning the city into an even "more" biker friendly place, which I hope will in turn put me more at ease about biking places. I just walk everywhere. I should probably work on overcoming my PTSD.

And back to my "Frenchy" tales, there is a fabulous little hidden gem on Mineral Point Road called "La Baguette." It is owned by a French couple and I believe they have an imported oven from France, but I have not looked up my sources. They play french music and have some french magazines. Sitting in the store, you feel exposed to the culture, but you don't feel like you are actually in France. (If you close your eyes, you would certainly feel like you were there). If you are a foodie, go there for lunch. You can at least look at photos of Sarkozy and his gorgeous wife in an outdated French magazine.

And then, on to my french speaking. Or lack of it. I finally attempted a "Cafe & Conversation," about two blocks from my condo. And before I left the crowd of french speakers, I announced, "I am screwed." I don't remember much but I will survive in France with my cute new walking shoes, plethora of scarves, dark hair and small build. Vraiment?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Now I'm Inside - Mish Mosh

Two years of blogging already. (I can't believe it! - one of my pet peeves. I can totally believe it because if I told you how much I have done since I started - well, even my sisters don't know all the dirty details.....)

Every time I walk the dog, I witness someone on a bike who always looks like they are about to get hit.

I am so excited for fall. I have been excited for it all summer. These long days with the sun out are killing me. I feel obligated to be outside until sunset.

Did you ever have that "exhausted" feeling after spending all day at the swimming pool when you were a kid? I am so anal, I try to recreate that feeling as an adult. I run four miles, lift weights, then go swimming to feel that "exhaustion" I felt from my child.

Just like I carve my pumpkins and decorate with this fall theme to remind me of my memorable childhood. Which is probably why I love this time of year that is just around the corner.

And Christmas time - love it. Have you ever walked around New York City or Chicago during the holidays? What a majestic time! Love the store windows. Walking around a museum and then sitting in a coffee shop with a hot chocolate drink - ideal Saturday afternoon.

And soon, I am going to Paris. I am lucky. I feel so blessed.

Sunday, Madison has a second "Ride the Drive." My golden and I are walking it with our Dad. Lance Armstrong leads the way. This should be part of Dad's training. Maybe he will start a blog about it......

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Wisconsin!

Only in Madison do you meet a little girl who says to you at a coffee shop, "I knew that local toy store around the corner would have ugly dolls because it's not a big chain store." Where do kids get this stuff? I was impressed.

And so, a weekend of debating what to do, yet again. Gay pride, mini-marathon, new children's museum, and more. Well, everyone who knows me will be shocked to learn that I went to the Corn Festival in Sun Prairie. I didn't exactly fit in, but that doesn't matter. $1.00 gets you in and the rest is carnival games, food, a petting zoo and watching glutenous people. For $6.00, you can purchase a small, cardboard tub and then you enter the corn area....

Walk into this area, people load up as much corn as you can fit into your "tub," and then husk it yourself at a "husking station." Have it buttered by some young girls with gloves. Salt it with the "salt tree." A tree with what looks like clothes lines with salt shakers dangling on them. I had two. My friend had six. And the ninth was thrown out. Sorry.

The highlight of the corn feast was holding a yellow lab puppy at the petting zoo area.

You would have to live under a rock to miss the new Children's Museum that just opened opposite the square from my condo. It has received a ton of publicity and it looks awesome. So, I checked it out. A "human" hamster wheel, chickens on the rooftop and some of the best views of Madison are appealing to adults (and children). You would not know we are in a recession visiting this museum. (Also an interesting story about the design above the elevator on the rooftop).

I just made a good recipe I hadn't made in a while. Having purchased an eggplant for $1.00 yesterday at the market and basil for .$50, I made my "eggplant sandwiches" (No bread included. Just breadcrumbs). E-mail me for the recipe.

I suppose I am ready for my bike posting. If anyone else has a bike rack picture.... Send now or never. Thanks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What's in a Name?

I am always thinking about names. It's hard to name a child something that isn't already used by many others. And you don't want to make something up either. My child is my dog.

When I named her "Scout," I thought it was creative. Based on the young character in the classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird," I was pretty sure I had named my dog like no other dog owner before me. And boy, was I wrong.

In the past year, my building has housed three Scouts. Two of them golden retrievers.

You can always find it irritating when people don't "get" your name. I have been called an exuberant number of different names when introducing myself. From Janeanne to Janice to Amy and beyond. That's why I finally figured out if I say, "Janie like Janie's got a gun by Aerosmith", that seems to work.

Now, for Scout, I get a lot of "whats?" I have tried the "From To Kill a Mockingbird," but disappointingly enough, in the nine years I have had her, there have been too many times when people let me down by indicating that they have no clue what I am talking about. (And not everyone knows Aerosmith, either. But that's ok). So instead, I say "Scout. She's my girlscout." That clears it up.

So, many years ago, I determined a "Man Quiz." When flirting or on a date with a guy, if I tell him my dog's name and he replies, "Oh, did you get that from To Kill a Mockingbird?" he has passed one of my IQ tests. (There are about four. That's for another posting).

Through the years, it is mildly mind boggling that so many people do not know classic literature. And when a couple arrived at our regular dog park and introduced "Franny," their black lab, I asked if they were Salinger fans. They were. And as we discussed Holden Caufield, Nine Stories and his recent death, the Chicago couple told me there was a Zooey canine down the street from their old house in Chicago. They said when they met the dog, they replied, "This is Franny!" and the neighbors with Zooey were like, "Yeah?" "They didn't know the novel," they told me. "Who doesn't know Salinger?!" I gasped. (I am glad my parents kept three or four of his books in our basement which I read one summer). I am also glad that I go to a well-read dog park where we name our dogs after fictional characters from well known authors.

And on that note, my aunt and uncle just told me that their grandson's middle name is Rhett and it only makes them think of Rhett Butler. About a week later, I met a young guy who introduced himself to me as "Rhett, like Rhett Butler." "I bet you haven't heard that you're entire life," I said to him facetiously. "Yeah, right," he joked back.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patience and Stuff

The first article I read this morning was about the flight attendant who lost his temper. It sounds like something a lot of disgruntled employees dream of doing. My favorite part was the beer he grabbed on the way down and the "It's been nice!" type of comment he exclaimed as making his grand exit. (Unfortunately, it's election Tuesday and this was my favorite article. I don't really care about Palin's endorsement).

I think sometimes service people just lose it.

My patience, when I have it, has grown quite thin these days. On a really bad day, I have no tolerance for the people who clog up the square for every festive event that takes place. While boasting about how wonderful Concert on the Square was last summer, I completely skipped it this year. Talking with some real Madisonian neighbors, we agreed that surrounding yourself on a lawn full of people who drive in from Egypt to eat frozen entrees and drink cheap wine and think they are being real cultural is not the idea of fun. However, there are plenty of people who aren't like that in attendance.

I went to Wollersheim Winery over the weekend. I blogged about this place when I first moved here. About a thirty minute drive, the winery is on lovely grounds. I bought a french red that I have not opened yet. Since you can sample everything, I know I made a good choice. On a pretty afternoon, it's nice to pack a picnic and sit out on their patio with a bottle. They are cheap, too. You do have to dodge some of those Wisconsin people I was referring to, though. Beware. There are also Madison looking folks who look like they probably biked in from the "big" city.

Thanks for your bike rack photos. Still hoping for a few more.