Late-night Drive in Indiana

We spent the last several days recording in Bloomington, Indiana, and are on our way to play a folk festival tomorrow. Tonight we played a house concert in Indianapolis, and have three hours to drive after the show. Usually David does the late-night drives, but because we have two cars, Michelle and I are splitting the drive in Babe, our Toyota Prius V. 

Late night drives are times when your mind wanders, and roams freely. My mind picks up rough stones, examines the undersides, and them puts them back down and moves on, since I'm usually too tired to think critically or analytically. I end up bouncing around a bit mentally. I day dream about future vacations, about how come some songs of Beyonce's are so good, how driving to 1:30AM used to be not a big deal, but now it's an event. Lots of random things.

Gearing up for my shift... this is a very random post! 

 

 

Venice: Kayaking Adventure

Josh and I spent two and a half days in Venice eating, walking our feet off, people watching, and soaking in the sights and sounds. The Grand Canal snakes its way throughout the city, and the many smaller canals carve up the city into neighborhoods that are connected by charming stone and iron bridges. In essence it is an archipelago- a unity of one hundred and eighteen islands, connected by four hundred and sixteen bridges, a masterful jigsaw puzzle sewn together by the many gondolas and boats that zip up and down the waterways. 

Our research pointed us in the direction of a guided kayak tour, and since we had limited time in the city we felt it was the best way to explore and see as much as we could. After our trip, we both agreed that kayaking was the best thing we could have done. Our instructor was a born-and-bred Venetian who knew the canals instinctively, and we were able to both watch the city and be a part of it in a very unique way. It cost us about $90 USD each for this excursion, but we'd pay it again in a heartbeat. 

Venice Kayaking Information

Half-Day Trips: 90 Euros per person (approx 9AM-1PM, or 2PM-6PM)

Full Day Trip: 120 Euros, 10AM-4PM 

Full list of prices

Our airbnb host in Venice told us to take a boat from the airport instead of a bus, and it was great advice. Yes, our boat tickets were about 7 Euros more expensive than the bus, but nothing can describe the immediate feeling of being immersed in a wonderland. The boat bounced and glided in the water and through the salt-stained windows we watched Venice appear and grow. The path the boat took was flanked by wooden markers, and resembled a two-way street. Private taxis whizzed by in the opposite direction, and our wide, gentle berth pitched and swayed in response. The warm, humid air, the scent of salt, the unabating sun were all a shock to the senses, having been in a pressurized cabin with artificial lighting for the previous 12 hours. 

We disembarked at our stop, made our way to the main avenue nearest our airbnb, bought an Italian SIM card, called David, and met him to say hi and drop off our bags. It was before our check-in time, but he was nice enough to let us leave our bags with him so we could make our way to Certosa ISland for a kayaking trip. 

We signed up for a 4 hour kayak tour of Venice, and had to scramble to wind our way through the city of Venice to get to the ferry which owuld take us to the island to meet the tour group. We were ten minutes late, and things were a little tense at first. Being pegged as the "obnoxious Americans who waltz in at the last minute and have no regard for other people" was not how I wanted to make an entrance, but our instructor interpeted it that way. She called me a princess and insisted that I share a kayak with Josh becuase he as a man could not let me work hard. I was incensed, jet-lagged, and sputtered incoherently. There were two other couples in the group, one Dutch, and one American. The woman in the American couple, who was around our age immediately spoke up and said, "Hey- if you're calling her a princess, you better call me a princess- right over here!" She had my back, and I appreciated her candor. 

It was obvious that things were tense at first, but upon my instructor discovering that I spoke Italian she completely changed her attitude and started praising me openly and exclaming how special it was that an American would know Italian. She had me translate for her, and with each phrase that I said for her she squealed and beamed at me. Josh and I communicated silently, and it was an immense comfort that we were in it together.

Our kayak instructor was Venetian, and told us that Venetians are incredibly nosy and tell it like it is. She took us through small, sleepy neighborhoods that were silent as a pin except for the lapping water against Centuries old bricks. She also guided us through the Grand Canal- which definitely made my adrenaline spike! 

The highlights were the Grand Canal, and an impossibly low bridge that we could not paddle through because it was so narrow. We pushed our hands aginast the rough brick, ducked our heads, and made it through. I was in disbelief when she suggested we go through it, and had serious reservations. Glad I did though! 

A Survey of Airbnb Stays

I was thinking about it... today I am in Canada (got here today), Louis is in Italy, Mom is in Montenegro, and Dad and Bev are in Brooklyn- we are all over the world! The band and I are spending the night at an airbnb in London, Ontario, which is a few hours from Toronto. Tomorrow and Sunday we'll be in Toronto, and Monday we drive to Rochester, NY. 

We are coming from Hudson, MI, which is a marvelous little town, population 2,000, and a high number of locally owned creative businesses. There is a print shop, multiple massage and wellness centers, and a few places to eat and get to know the locals. Their hospitality is bar. none. We never pay for anything when we're there- we eat at the one great restaurant on the house, and the woman who owns the breakfast joint makes sure that we come in and doesn't charge us... it's like an alternate reality where we are celebrities! 

Working backwards... before THAT, we spent a night at an airbnb in GARY, INDIANA. For those of you who know Gary, it used to be the murder capital of America. Shudder. For real. Our airbnb was two blocks from Lake Michigan, as in, the Lake Michigan. Lake is an understatement, it is the Ocean of the Midwest. At any rate, this little part of Gary was charming, if ever-so-slightly rough around the edges. Rough is the wrong word. It's a little low-key beach community that only the locals know about, and you can be yourself and have no pretenses. The business owners also have no pretenses, and sometimes put up an "I'll be back later" sign, much to one's dismay. However- the views of the lake are worth a stop by the sea side- I mean shoreline- of Gary. Look very carefully in the picture below- right on the horizon in the middle- see that skyline? That's CHICAGO! Seen from Hoosier-land. 

Last but not least, here is the previous airbnb stay- it's a community farm in Dane, Wisconsin. I don't have a lot of pictures, but here are some of the 120 acres, the vegetables, and beautiful scenery. It was incredibly serene and the people there was friendly and laid back. They had a bonfire going, which we stopped by for a few minutes, but the main attraction of the evening was the little baby chicks that were both hatching, and hanging out in their pen. It's rare for us to see baby chicks up close- we even held them and cooed at them! They wanted to be put down. Oh well. 

 

 

(on the way to) Texas!

I had one deliciously great week at home. Josh and I settled ourselves into a routine that involved laundry, eating, and focused practice of our instruments (cello and bass). I would say it was a week of on point "adulting". We did not even watch Netflix once the entire week. Granted, there were plenty of short videos of amazing kittens and ducklings, which probably made up for all of the Netflix we would have watched, but shhhhh, fuggedaboudit, arright? 

I'm currently in the car on the way to Texas, via Memphis. We're staying with our old friends and their charming 7 month old and 3 year old. These kids are ruddy faced, healthy, jovial, happy to see you babies who are as affectionate as they are playful. It literally brings me joy to see them and hang out with them... and makes me feel old : ). 

Ok. Here are some thoughts. I have committed to the ideology of consistency. I am vowing to be consistent in my daily affairs, to make every effort to practice every day, even if for a short amount of time, and to show up every day to chip away at the marble statue that encases our lives. I'll admit, my emotions definitely govern whether I show up or not. When I'm feeling great it is so easy to be a motivated, well-intentioned person. But there are some weeks (ahem last week) where it felt like I had climbed up on a chair with a broomstick trying to shove all these things I didn't want to do into a corner. I enjoy being a healthy person, I relish the opportunity to work and push myself out of my comfort zone, but sometimes it's just so damn hard. During that week I felt this weight, this resistance and hostility to doing the work that I knew I had to do. I definitely had the awareness to know what I should be doing, but I couldn't make myself do it.

And then somehow, whether gradually or not, this week I fell... back on track. Soberly focused, on time for my life. I got out my cello. I practiced. I also cooked, and went to the gym, and would have done more things if there had been more time in the day. 

It'd be great to know the greater forces that govern these moods, and it'd be even better to always stay on the high line and devote myself to the excellence of consistency. Realistically though? One day at a time. I am not going to beat myself up for not practicing today- I hopped in the car at 7:45AM, and now it is almost 7:30PM and I am not yet out of the car... consistency is a goal, right? It's those moments of internal conflict, of having a long day and still doing the things that you know you have to do- in those moments of flailing energy, to summon the willpower to hustle and make things happen. That is my Achilles heel. Acknowledgement is the first step, right? We'll see what tomorrow brings. 

 

Indiana

Some of my closest friends are the ones that I made in college. When I was in college, adults always told me to soak it in, to enjoy it, to let every moment sink into my pores like I was at a resort on the Mediterranean ocean. I never quite got it then, but looking back I have such a mixed sense of nostalgia. I felt so different then. I entered college as a doe eyed, ambitious eighteen year old. Everything I thought would be important faded away over the years. Straight A's are nice, straight A's are wonderful, but they have no currency in the real world. What largely seems to matter are the things that I've learned since childhood: be a good person, show up early, have a good attitude, and work your butt off. Also- take your shoes off in the house and make your bed. Blah. Blah. Blah.

 I visited three of my amazing college friends this past week, and I'm lucky that they're all there for one more year, so I can visit them fairly easily. They rock. They're Uzbek Russians, and the third is American/Japanese. That's the awesome part about going to such a diverse music school- having friends from all over the world. We ate Italian food, drank red wine, ate chocolate and merrily chatted the night away. We talked about fathers with diabetic sugar cravings, life after college, life before college, babies, relationships, all the things that strike notes that resonate loudly and wildly beyond our control. You want to control the reins, but sometimes you have to learn how to go along for the ride. It's nice to know at the end of the day that your friends are steering their ships, and while you might lose sight of them at times, they're always out there.  


Annnnnnnnd then after this amazing time I went to rehearsal with the band and saw THIS incredible creature. A baby cow. Born hours after I arrived at the farm in Paoli. 

Alabama/Indiana

There are some drives that are relatively inconsequential, mere passages of time and space to get you to your destination, where life happens. There are some drives though where it feels like you’ve really journeyed, really gone through the changing landscape of the land and witness the changes that Mother Nature sprinkles and stitches into the landscape. 

Driving to Alabama from Ohio feels like a cultural shift, feels like a geographic shift, feels like you’re in a slightly different universe. It might sound like I’m exaggerating, I mean it’s just Alabama for crying out loud, but when you start seeing fields of cotton, beaten down rusted pickup trucks congregating at dusty gas stations, and the ever slight sweetness to the air- it’s as if the air has thawed in the Southern sun and is just a little easier on the intake. Whatever it is, these changes creep up on you. You have to pass through Louisville, which feels familiar, and then you reach Nashville, which is the tip of the Southern iceberg. Once you hit Alabama you’re ready for the changes, and the warmth of the sun on your face.

The drive back, I don’t know if it’s because I myself am exhausted after having slept for a paltry six hours (I really love to get enough sleep), but the drive back is an exercise in patience. Breathe enough, get enough gas, wait, and eventually you’ll cover enough miles and zip backwards back into Winter’s cocoon. 

The show itself was in a small black box theater, wider than it was long, and had very clear acoustics, if not dry. The quality of the equipment was first class, and a baby grand piano sat off the side of the stage, adding a dramatic elegance to the space. We played well to a crowd of… perhaps thirty tepid Alabamians. They turned out not to be so tepid after all once we got to know them. We got a standing ovation, and they made us promise to return. We’ll be back in Alabama in April, and I can’t wait. 

Alabama

I left my home in Columbus, OH, today for the great Southern landscapes of Alabama. I had a 3.5 hour journey by myself to meet up with the band in Louisville, KY, and as the car cruised and rolled along I had time to call my parents, and cousins, and catch up with everyone. Being in a touring folk band, I had to learn to make my peace with long drives. A New Yorker by birth, it took me halfway through my undergrad at Indiana University (Bloomington) to realize that having a car in the Midwest made life a lot easier. I failed my driver' test in New York. Failed it passionately, miserably, desperately- it was as if I was playing a joke on myself. Sad, hurt, and feeling a little bitter, I ducked into the Bloomington Department of Motor Vehicles, my every fiber of my being flinching with the memory of my failed driving test. 

I passed with flying colors. 

Indiana was really starting to grow on me... 

Flash back to today. I'm going to have dinner with my a-mave-ing friend, Maeve, in Nashville, then spend the night with the band at an airbnb. We head out tomorrow to Alabama, where we have a show Friday night. 

 

 

January 25th- Heading to Georgia and Florida

I was supposed to be in Virginia this past weekend playing two shows, but due to an EPIC snowstorm, we stayed home. What sweet, sweet bliss. It felt so good to have a 'gifted' week at home- no plans made, nothing on the books. Josh had work with his M-F, 9-5ish job, but we had dinner together every single night. It was pretty awesome. I cooked a LOT. Salads, soups, pizzas, pestos, pastas. Not all of it was a win... 

Carrot top pesto

Disappointing. The carrot tops that I got from the organic section at Kroger were very astringent and kind of bitter. It's a shame... I put in quite a bit of grated parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. I threw in some fresh basil that I had for good measure, but it couldn't save this tart little abomination. Oh well. 

Baby portobello mushroom "escargot"- scrummy yummy deliciousness

I've had escargot once or twice, and the best part of it the sauce. That buttery, rich, garlicky, herby golden potion is a salve to cure all ailments. Yum. Yum. Yum. 

Lentil soup- this had way. too. much. fiber. Never again. 

 

Pizza- a delightful and satisfying work in progress. 

I have been on a serious pizza kick this week. I found this great recipe from the NY Times, and want to stay with this recipe and try different flours until I find a good combination. It's simple, but SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS. I bake it in my oven at the highest setting, and let the pan heat up too before putting the dough on it. I figure it's a good way to let the crust cook faster.