Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Towns in towns - NOTO

Once it was the center of the city, the place to go for shops and open markets, government and gossip. But with the advent of growth, North Topeka became that street most places know, where the double b's of bars and bad congregated and families kept away, along with people still went out but who might want to come home safely at the end of the evening. 

But then, as these things go, the city leaders and forward thinking citizens took a look and realized there was a lot of charm still waiting and turned the tide of the town (you see what I did) and NOTO was reborn into the Arts District of Topeka. The bars are now cool, antique stores line the street, monthly art walks happen and as the promotional press reads "NOTO is now, once again the place to be seen and is the colorful heartbeat of North Topeka with murals, artists, antiques and so much more!" 

We were headed to a arty cool furniture store to check out the potential of shifting some pieces. The store we were looking for was closed until Wednesday but an antique store was open (sort of, ok, they weren't really open, just working in the shop but an open door is an open door to me). It is the place in your head when you think of antiques, with two older men moving things around in cool, high ceiling dim rooms that stretch out of sight, with the scents of books and polished old wood and maybe even glass in the air. 

There was the  de rigueur cat, her name is Patina (of course her name is Patina) and there were older gentlemen (older, so polite I am when we were probably of a generation) helpful with some funny mixed in. For all that folky charm, Rusty Haggles has a savvy online presence, if you want to check it out. 

I remembered being here before, this place with its historic Main Street - I don't know if it's called Main Street but it looks like one to me, its gorgeous train depot, its generous parking. The cars looked too modern, but in my head I could see horses and carts, old cars with fat rounded fenders... Michelle indulged my frequent need to get photos.

The only thing better than an old building with a painted advert on it?
An old building with painted adverts painted over painted adverts. 
I'm a sucker for architectural detail,
especially when side by sided with modern boredom buildings
The capitol building peeks out from behind buildings (it's taller than the Capitol building in DC) until coming into full view. 

This is from the Kansas Historical Society, some trivia I didn't know, or forgot. I'm going with forgot. Maybe. I don't remember.

"The bronze statue of the Kansa warrior, Ad Astra, was placed on top of the dome in 2002. Sculpted by Kansas artist Richard Bergen, it is 22 feet and 2 inches tall and weighs 4,420 pounds. The Kansa people, for whom the state takes its name, contributed to the history of Kansas. The warrior faces toward the North Star, a symbol of finding one’s way. The statue is named for the state motto: Ad astra per aspera, “To the stars through difficulties.”

Facing the North Star. That's pretty awesome, we all need one.

The Western Meadowlark, the state bird, needs a serious makeover
In one of our stops, because moves always end up with some donations made, we asked what they would take, pick up, etc. He said the one thing they won't take is - get ready for it - desks. Desks! He said no one uses them anymore. It was sad. I remembered getting each of my children their own desk, how excited they were, a step in growing up, their OWN DESK! All those drawers to be filled, that surface to be used, a lamp to find. And now no one wants desks? Hey, GET OFFA MY LAWN, KID!

Have a what the hell Wednesday. Do something wendingly. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Kansas and Sushi?

Not long after I got here Michelle and I went by this place called Mizu Sushi that was offering 2 all you can eat sushi dinners for 30 dollars. That seemed ridiculous, so we went inside to smell the air, literally, and check out that it really was that, not a buffet thing. It all seemed good, and we ended up hearing from two people who highly recommended it. We were ready. 

Except, you know when you have big projects that take days and at the end of the day the last thing you want to do is go out? Even for sushi? Anyone who knows me well might find that impossible to believe, but so it was, until last night. 

There were things on the menu I'd never heard of before and of course, I had to order, like this offering:

*Spicy* Spicy tuna, spicy salmon, avocado, crunchy with pink soy bean paper, honey wasabi sauce, and fish egg on top.

The triangle roll in the corner is the Spicy Rose Roll.
It was...okay. 
Even the server understood what wasn't good about it, she brought up that the honey wasabi pretty much was just wrong. But how could I resist soy bean paper? Everything else was a winner. So much a winner that we ordered more. Because we could, not because we should.

Let the games begin
When I took the above photo I finally noticed the dog on Michelle's tee shirt. He was the perfect guest and is welcome any time. Ok, I almost spit out my sake laughing. 

The fail on this plate was the Green Mountain, which sounded awesome
(White tuna - which isn't tuna, but escolar, avocado, cucumber inside, and seaweed salad on top)
but again with the honey wasabi? That pretty much wrecked it
Everything else was very good. Ok, everything we could manage to eat, which was about half of Round Dos. The rest is in the fridge and I can't think about it right now, because I'm still full.

Tofu skin
I passed on this one but Michelle said thumb's up
The service was almost crazy good. Three young women came by with unobtrusive frequency to check on us. They were all well informed about the menu and just generally truly into service with a smile. 

Even as we waddled away, with our to-go container in hand, we couldn't help but think about our next visit. Which is sick. 

So if you happen to find yourself in Topeka, KS and having a serious sushi jones, check out Mizu. Just don't get all crazy about 'local fish'; unless climate change really steps up the game it will be awhile before oceanfront dining is a thing here. P.S. Climate change is stepping up the game, but not that fast. 

Have a willing wonder Wednesday. Do something worthwhile.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Squirrelly Free Range Friday

We don't have squirrels on Culebra. We don't even have mongoose. Mongooses. Mongeese. Hmmm. Well, we don't have them, however they are pluralized (and pluralize they do, ask most of the other islands where they were disastrously imported to kill rodents and snakes. Instead, they killed about everything else and multiplied like rabbits. But, I digress. 

You don't scare me!
The thing about not having something like squirrels as part of daily life is that they are fascinating when seen somewhere else. This particular squirrel likes to try to get into the bird feeder hanging off the porch. He gets quite irritated when we come outside, leaping across the yard (to Murphy's continual frustration - Murphy is the dog, in case you haven't been playing along.) He fairly flies up to the fence top, chattering away with  very understandable meanings that probably shouldn't be repeated here, but along the lines of !%$@*&!. 

I'm waaaaaaaaiiiitttting
Sometimes I hang out a little longer than I planned, just to bug him. I think he knows that. 

Stink eye

He'll be back the minute I slide the door closed and that's really fine with me. As long as he doesn't eat the tomatoes!!!

I was just remembering when Friday used to be Free Range Friday, often about food. I haven't made this old family dinner in ages and it turned out so well, I couldn't imagine why it went off my staple go-to list.

Angel hair pasta and clams
The only thing missing was grated parmesan and while it would definitely have brought more flavor, it was quite delicious with only the minced clams, olive oil, a little butter, minced garlic, fresh parsley with some salt and pepper. 

Lentil and potato soup, with the bones of everything meat and fowl we've been eating lately, plus some meaty ham bones from the freezer (yes, we're selling the freezer too, everything must get used!), garlic, onion, cumin, parsley, a dash of red peppers is on the stove, because this place is AC cool all the time so it feels like soup weather to me! That works!

Have a free ranging Friday. Do something frivolously fine. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sunflowers and Bits

Yesterday we took a time out to go see sunflowers at Berry Hill Farm. They are pretty medicinal! There is no one there except other people taking photos, only a box on a stand where donations can be made. They ask a dollar if you take a sunflower. We didn't take any but thanked them, via the box, for this simple pleasure. 

I don't know if these are the kind of sunflowers florists use or not but even without the seed potential (because I'm an addict of sunflower seeds, I notice these things), they were a pretty magnificent sight to behold. 

Almost ready to say hello to Sol

It was a bee and butterfly feeding frenzy out there. 
I did my best but when one is vertically challenged,
it's not easy to take a photo of an entire field.
While waiting for the car that is being sold (a 98 Eclipse, for you car types, it's pretty damn sporty) to get its oil changed, we walked next door to the local healthy food market to while away some time. The phrase 'if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all' is never true with health food places; they are all different. Maybe lots of you have seen this before, but I never had.

Well, I guess it is!
Getting to know Murphy again has been fun. He's a sweet little dog who is incredibly good at looking adorable. 

Comfy, Murph?
On our walks, we pass this tree full of large, cherry sized fruit. Michelle says crabapples. I prefer to think they have magical properties that have not been told to mere mortals such as ourselves.

Or maybe just crabapples
Have a thankful Thursday! Do something in tribute (to Aretha). 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Space and Time

Because photos of sorting, organizing, throwing out and/or packing things isn't the most exciting thing to see, unless you have some weird kind of fetish I don't want to know about, there hasn't been much going on out here in the land of sunflowers to really show and tell. I've been using my photographic skills to list stuff on Facebook Market, which I have to say, works pretty well! I never knew much about it until now, so if you have something to sell, it's worth a shot, with all the caveats of protecting yourself and your home while selling. So far, so good!

Yesterday we took a drive to see my oldest granddaughter (I want to grow up and be her, she's so strong and funny and smart and good) in the town where she goes to college. I took a few shots along the way. It wasn't until we were almost to the car leaving that I realized I'd not taken any photos of us together. Oops. Actually, that isn't a bad thing, but I'll try to remember next time. 

The sky has been very dramatic the last few days.
I got to meet her new to me boyfriend and he got the Grandma Super Seal of approval, level headed, a musician, close to his family, doesn't think we're all crazy, cute as can be, with a great dry sense of humor; what's not to like? If he can enjoy lunch with three generations of basically me but smarter and funnier as the genes pass down, kudos to him! 

This is a bit fuzzy as on the road photos sometimes are,
 but it's such a quintessential farm house I had to include it.
There are a few things I like about Kansas. The sky is one of them. With wildly vast horizons, any cloud show is going to have some drama going on. Sunsets and sunrises can border on insanely exquisite (not so much in this neighborhood, because it's a regular neighborhood with homes and electric lines etc. but the country isn't far away). And generally, the people are super nice. That's enough for now.

Look one way and see this

Look another way and see this
Space. Michelle will say, as we are heading someplace I've not been with her, oh, it's just right over there. Over there takes no real time to get to, but it's driving a lot farther than my concept of over there, which usually means within sight. Things are spread out here, I'd need a drone shot to show what I mean but imagine the shopping center in Fajardo. Now imagine the parking lot being 3 times bigger. Now imagine that all around that is space. Empty space. And then WAAAAY over there, is a fast food place. It's not all like that but it feels like it to me. The luxury of space that can't be adequately understood if there is nothing to contrast it to. Ok, I'll be quiet now.

Have a wide-open Wednesday. Do something wild.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2000 Miles...Pretty Much (photo heavy, fair warning!)

According to Google Maps, the drive from California to Kansas, fastest route, should take 1 day and 3 hours. I managed to make it take 4 1/2 days instead, since I was actually driving the vehicle and didn't have a clone drone companion to help spell me through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and most of Kansas. There's a lot of road out there!

The mountains, I've found, after a few years of driving or being driven around in them, are beautiful. But I'm a flatlander who grew up in Florida and after attempts to think differently, my conclusion is that mountain driving is just not my thing. Giant vehicles hurtling themselves around blind, twisting, ascending and descending curves make my hands slippery and my heart pound. Where is the horizon? Somewhere up the road. 

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

Every curve has a surprise potentially awaiting.
Usually road work.

No, these aren't the Rockies yet, just rocky.

One thing about a long road trip is the incredible changes in the land being traveled. Nevada has salt flats, Wyoming has green outcroppings of geological makings, Utah tosses up spires of whatever they are made out of. 
The salt flats of Nevada
 Using my camera rather than my phone allowed for photos on the fly. In some of the most dramatic country I couldn't spare a hand for the camera, as traffic would bunch up at some crazy speeds, requiring all eyes and hands focused in concentration. I swear it wasn't tears I was wiping out of my eyes. 

It's beautiful. Scary to drive (for me) but very beautiful.
Maybe everyone has a Donner experience. Approximately six miles before I got to this monument, I was in a tight, four laned line of a lot of semi's and cars, road work cones on either side of us making us a one lane, with cliff edges on the other side of that. Gripping the wheel white knuckled, suddenly the semi right, and I mean right in front of me PULLED OUT TO PASS THE OTHER SEMI in front of him. It was like a bad movie as I slow-motion swerved toward the cones and cliff edge to avoid being scraped off the road by a wall of semi. Obviously, that didn't happen, and I didn't soil my pants either, but I'm pretty sure I was hyper-ventilating until I reached the next place I could pull off and calm down. Of course it was Donner Pass. What else?

That was really the only super scary moment in almost 2000 miles. Not bad!

Had they only known that six miles up the road was
a rest area! With a phone! History will never know
how things might have been so different.
I also decided that everyone else on the road was completely confident and relaxed. 

Car camping definitely brought the Turtle to mind; her bed, her kitchen, her clean bathroom! But, as last time, out in the middle of nowhere's bigger towns, I had to appreciate WalMart's overnight camping policy. This was the most camper friendly parking lot I'd seen, with maybe 15 campers and trailers tucked up for the night. All felt safe and the Beasty wasn't at all uncomfortable with the seats down and sleeping bag, pillow and blankets. Until 4:30 in the morning when this semi came in and parked 4 feet away from me, roaring generator and all. 

Hey buddy! Semis go over THERE. 
After getting an early coffee, it was easy to get back on the road again.

What I tried to capture with a quickly grabbed camera
is not always the most apparent in the photo.
I was going for the swirled cone here. 

A rest area that was just as hot as it looks along what is called
The California Trail.

My admiration for the fortitude and/or insanity of the pioneers who traveled this land to reach California increased along the way. And for those who chose to stop before reaching that fabled land? I get it. Sort of. 

Barren stretch of waterless alkali wasteland indeed.
This is where the words of Phil Collins kept making the rounds in my head.
"Please get me out of here, I'll do anything!"
It's amazing how long you can drive along flat, wide open spaces, feeling them going on forever, when BAM, suddenly you are in the mountains again. 

Driving the Beasty instead of the Turtle changed everything. For one thing, I'd probably still be on the road if I was driving the Turtle. Guilty thoughts of betrayal went hand in hand with increased speed. One thing for sure, driving the Turtle is for meandering, not trying to get from here to there in any compressed time frame. Of course, I didn't exactly fit the time frame even with speed a reality. 

That is water, way over there. And not much traffic to worry about.

The profound vision of one person can, literally, change the whole game. 

I liked the name Stonehouse better

It'll be fun!

This was in Nevada, after the smoke from the California fires
were a ways behind me. It's hard to see but flames were shooting high up
in the air and no one was around. 

Nature does a bit of roadside decoration

The railroad tracks I rode on last year ran alongside the highway on and off
for many miles. Oh, I remembered it well.

Here come the mountains again!

I don't remember why I took this photo.

Nice solar panels!!
Up in the mountains there are a LOT of places to pull over and take a breath. I was really surprised, and took a lot of breaths. 

Am I the only person who thinks this is maybe not the
best way to advertise your town?

Yep, that's salt

That thing with four things on it? I don't know what it was, the four
things were ball-like and it was the tallest thing on the road for miles

That is not snow, it is salt. Piles and miles of salt.
Salt flats, then green in the hills. And incredible stretches of nothing but that. America is huge. 

The green in the hills...why? PFM, unless some geologist tells me different.

I never saw an Amtrak train but I did see a few trains moving goods across the country. I'm not sure why this one was so vivid, but circling the hills, it looked like a toy train set-up. 

Taking a photo of the 'new state!' signs is something I couldn't do for any place but Kansas. Because they show up in really weird spots; going up a mountain pass, speeding along a mountain pass, being in bumper to bumper traffic on an interstate slowed by road work. 

Before entering Kansas, I left Interstate 80 to go down the edge of the Rockies before joining Interstate 70. Driving along, the voice of She Who is Usually Obeyed said, turn left. This was not an interstate exit. This looked like the exit you take to go to Auntie Bell's farm house. Owl Canyon Road? What? 

A dirt road, a really BAD dirt road, literally in a canyon was my route? There were a couple of vehicles along with me, one in front, one behind, who also had listened to the voice (because strangers in this strange land would not have voluntarily taken this way to go) so I figured, if we all ran out of gas maybe one of us would have some beef jerky to share before the vultures found us. 

On and on, for maybe 10 miles, we wended our way to hopefully somewhere. Then, suddenly, there was another interstate! We were saved! Hooray! 


Just another cute bus with a nice little family
cruising the highways and by-ways.

Old and new
 The last rest area I stopped at had this on the walkway. The long journey almost over, mountain induced sweaty palms long behind me, it was just what I wanted to see. Because love really does make all the rest of the good things in life happen. Get your love on today!!

After the last few days here in Topeka, it all almost seems like someone else took that drive. Who is that woman? I'm glad I did it, I'm glad it's done. Next time I see the mountains on that stretch will be from railroad tracks or 30,000 feet in the air. All you need is love.

Have a traveling Thursday. Do something telling.