Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anyone Biked on P.E.I. or the Iles de la Madeleine?

We're planning a cycling trip (a combination of trailer camping and B&B stays) on Prince Edward Island and the Iles de la Madeleine (which you get to by taking a 5-hour ferry ride out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from a port in P.E.I). We've been to P.E.I (by car) but never the islands, so there's a certain amount of "chicken trip" going on. Our plan is to leave our van at the ferry dock when we arrive and do the rest of the tour with minimal packs (with nice meals and soft beds awaiting us at a variety of inns and B&Bs, eh hem). Not exactly roughing it, but without the security of a warm car if it rains between stops.

Both have reputations as great touring destination for bikers. If you have any stories to tell, accommodations to recommend, or must-see-sights for our trip, we'd love to hear 'em.

Note: That's not my family there, but that's a genuine photo of biking on the Iles de la Madeleine. Thanks to the Tourism Bureau of Iles de la Madeleine for the photo.

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New Asian Restaurant in Arlington

On Sunday, we rode from Lexington to Arlington (on bikes! still getting in shape!). We thought we'd have dinner. And although we're still missing Viet's Cafe (great bowls of pho and noodles--a particular favorite of my visiting parents), we were not disappointed by the new Chinese-Japanese restaurant that's taken the cafe's old space.

It's called Mifune (which would seem to give Japanese food pride of place, Toshiro Mifune being one of Japan's most celebrated actors). But both sides of the extensive menu are worth trying. My grilled salmon with ginger and scallion sauce (a Chinese entree) was tasty and well-prepared, arriving beautifully presented with orchid buds decorating the plate, while my sushi order of a tuna and avocado roll was delicious. My husband and son gave the ol' thumbs up to their crispy aromatic beef and pan fried noodles, as well as their individual sushi orders. The hot-and-sour soup--so useful for my still-suffering sinuses--held its own against the many versions I've had in my life.

The renovated space is brighter and bigger--they knocked down the wall that used to provide a separate seating area at Viet's--and upgraded the restrooms. Service was attentive but not hovering, and the presention of the food, as I mentioned, quite elegant. (As a bonus, if you get there this week by May 31, all meals are 20 percent off as a pre-grand-opening special, but that's just gravy.)

Despite the oddness of the pairing of cuisines--Japan and China have a terrible shared history going back hundreds of years and you might not think it's a natural combination--you see these kinds of restaurants popping up everywhere. And I like many of them: Bamboo in Burlington, Sato in Waltham (my husband's favorite). Mifune more than holds its own and is conveniently located a few hundred yards off the Minuteman Bike Trail in Arlington Center. We'll definitely be back. (Still riding! Still getting fit!)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Just One Day

Interesting--the dynamic of the three-day weekend. Especially the first "official" three-dayer of the summer (and for once, we have the weather to prove it). My office was only half full today, the parking lot half empty. People off to out-of-town graduations or the first trip to the Cape, colleagues leaving early to beat the traffic or just relish the time a little more.

That one extra day carries a lot of weight. People grab onto the extra free time for dear life, piggy-backing vacation time to make it a four-day stint. Or they take a whole week, knowing that Monday is a freebie. I like my job a lot, and yet I'm looking forward to the realization on Sunday night that the next day isn't a work day, just like everyone else. Call it 24-hour power.

Of course, this only happens if you're lucky enough to have a standard office job--for folks in retail, at the movie theaters, and in food service, this is just another weekend, and in fact may mean extra work to handle the sales and the crowds. Remember that when you're catching a matinee of Shrek 3 on Monday afternoon and be a little nicer to the ticket taker.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We Get It--She Loves You!

Tonight, as my son and I shared our traditional "Dad's out of town, so let's go to Dabin" dinner in Lexington, the man behind us used his cell phone. I have been guilty of that myself on rare occasions (though in my defense I usually walk outside to the sidewalk to talk). But this guy put his phone ON SPEAKER MODE.

I got to hear how he was out with a friend, having a good time, he missed his wife--the usual side of the conversation. But thanks to the wonders of the speaker phone, we got to hear how much his wife loves him, how he should have a good time but not TOO good a time, etc. I couldn't tell if he was showing off for his dinner companion or the rest of us--maybe some of each.

I was impressed all right. I get it, buddy--you're a stud. Your wife loves you. We all heard it. Now put that thing away--we're tryin' ta eat here!

Three Years and Counting--and Yet the Sky Still Stands

It's been three years since Bay Staters were granted equal marriage rights. That's three years of ... not much changing, except that the lives of some of our state's citizens were brought up to legal par with their fellow citizens.

I wrote about the first year anniversary of this momentous event back in 2005. What I wrote still stands (although now I'm approaching my 23rd year of marriage).

In fact, it turns out that in states where they allow civil unions, same-sex couples are starting to hold out for the Big M--Marriage. According to the New York Times, separate but not-quite-equal just doesn't cut it:
Charles Paragian, a dance instructor in Little Ferry who with his partner of 17 years adopted five children from foster care, called the civil union “bread crumbs” compared with same-sex marriage.

“I don’t want my children to learn to settle for anything,” said Mr. Paragian, 44. “It’s a Jim Crow law, it’s two separate water fountains, it’s not equal, we just don’t agree with it.”

Massachusetts is leading the way, so let's keep up the good work. Because when you take away civil rights--that's when the sky just might fall after all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Alien Visitor

I came home from work yesterday to find this guy on my front porch, waiting patiently for ... what? For me to let my parrot out of his cage? To let the guinea pigs run free?

Just look at that face and those eyes. Pretty intimidating.

"Oh, Warriors, come out and plaaaaay...."

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

WMD* Revealed!

Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms, moms-in-law, moms-to-be, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, friends-who-are-like-a-mom-to-you, teachers-who-are-like-a-mom-to-you, that motherly lady at the Dunkin or the McD's drive-thru--and just to nice women in general. This may seem like just a greeting-card-and-restaurant holiday, but it's still worthwhile stepping back and thanking all the lovely women in our lives. (Men--you get your chance next month.)

Thanks, too, to all the kids and former kids (e.g., grownups) who helped make us moms, moms-in-law, etc.

And a tip of the hat to my brother, the amazing J., for two kick-ass Mothers' Day cards, including one that plays the theme from The Addams Family when you open it. Coooool. (And after all, wasn't Morticia Addams one of the most glamorous yet loving moms EVER?) So--thanks, Bro!

*Wishes for Mothers' Day.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Least SFNE TV Show Ever Renewed!

The little show that could, Friday Night Lights, has been renewed by NBC, despite less-than-stellar ratings. Yay! Being the most critically acclaimed show of the year probably helped.

If you heard about this show but were fearful of getting attached to it, only to see it disappear, now's your chance. NBC has all the episodes online (and presumably there will be DVD set soon).

Fair warning, though: ONLY watch if you like shows with compelling characters, outstanding acting, and excellent writing. Plus, if you've ever lived out West (Texas in particular), you will nod your head in recognition during many scenes. And if you've never lived out West, but have ever been a teenager, parent, spouse, athlete, class geek, person struggling with a disability, caregiver, or car dealer, you'll nod your head in recognition during many scenes. Remember--I warned you.

Photo courtesy of NBC.com.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

How Do They Do It?

This photo from the Globe's online real estate section (excuse me--the luxury section) caught my eye. And okay, I get that this is a pricey condo--open floor plan, beautiful materials, no doubt great location. What I don't get is: How the heck do you keep a place like this clean and uncluttered? Where's the junk mail? Where are the school notices? What about the newspapers, magazines, and books, books, books?

Or is that just me?

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Friday, May 04, 2007

It's Happening Again

I'm beginning to care--really care. And I know my heart will be broken along with thousands--maybe millions--of others. We'll be in that swirl of heady intoxication all summer, only to be brought low in September. We know we shouldn't. And yet we do. And we wait for the inevitable, knowing that once in a very long time the inevitable doesn't happen.

So we hope. We hope. We hope.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gilmore: A Beloved and SFNE Show Comes to the End

It's sadly official: The CW announced the cancellation of Gilmore Girls. Although I only got hooked on the show about three years ago (because of scheduling reasons in the days before my second TiVo--yes, I watch a lot of TV), I avidly watch reruns and new episodes (hint: the older ones are better). In the end it was cancelled for that most prosaic of reasons--stalled contract negotiations.

Set in the magical, fictional Connecticut town of Stars Hollow (a distant suburb of Hartford--I said it was fictional), the show hooked millions of us on the relationship between the "girls"--single mother Lorelai and her precocious daughter Rory Gilmore--and their loves, friends, relatives, and fellow Stars Halloweenians. When you watch it--especially the earlier episodes--the dialogue flies funny and fast (think: His Girl Friday fast), with pop culture references that occasionally even flew over my head (and I'm very pop-conscious). You either get it or not, but if you get it, then you love it. (Ask my brother--I got him hooked, too.)

You know how when you watch one of those shows that's "set" in Boston (I'm talking to you, Ally McBeal!) that it might as well take place in Detroit? Despite being filmed in California (I visited the set once on a studio tour), Gilmore was totally SFNE. Granted, because it's supposed to be southern Connecticut, the accents are sort of northeastern bland, but there's the continuing thread of participatory democracy/town meetings (some of the funniest stuff), celebrations of the seasons (winter carnivals, harvest festivals, etc.), and continual references to Providence and Boston.

More evidence: Lorelai's dad is a king of the Hartford insurance world, and she runs a successful inn (ever since Newhart, one of the most SFNE of occupations). Heck, there was even a recommendation to eat at Barnacle Billy's in Ogunquit in a recent episode. And okay, Rory chose Yale over Harvard (and where were the good public schools in the mix, huh, huh?), it's still a New England school. I'm even guessing applications to Old Eli bumped up a tick after the idyllic portrayal of life at the school. (Minus two points on the SFNE Scale for never mentioning the Sox, though, or--god help us--those &^%#$@ Yankees.)

So goodbye, Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Emily, Richard, Lane, Zach, Sookie, Jackson, Mrs. Kim--even you, Kirk and Taylor. I'll miss you all--and a little bit of magical New England along with you. Let's hope you get a fitting farewell.

Photo courtesy of TVGuide.com.

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