May 31, 2008

nice night for it

i joined the critical mass ride last night and though a cool front blew through, it was a lovely night for a lazy ride around boston. both nate and dave made it, too.

we hit south boston, downtown, close to charlestown, east cambridge, harvard square, across the river and up comm ave, over through to brookline village and (as a much smaller group) jamaice plain. 7 of us ended up at james' gate for food and drink. i've never socialized with strangers post-cm ride, but i would definitely do so again. it was a lovely way to cap the ride.

dave, nate and i, along with another lady heading to cambridge, biked back around 10pm. dave was on his new bike, a bright shiny red thing - isn't that the way, get a new bike and someone tries to plow you down? dave was in little physical danger but did twist his wrist. i think we totaled close to 22 miles. added bonus - few altercations on the road. i think one person got into a heated argument with a driver, but beyond that, it was a relatively confrontationless ride. more like that, please.

(note - one dude riding beside me turned to his friend and said he kind of wished there was more aggression on the ride and then turned to me with a wicked grin. i said something about how nice it was to know everyone was riding safe and sound. he ignored me for the rest of the time.)

May 26, 2008

more stupid QandA

i knew katy would have something fun for me to do upon my homecoming...

1. Where is your cell phone? by my bed.
2. Your significant other? nate's on the couch, wearing his #2 pencil sweatshirt.
3. Your hair? total bedhead.
4. Your mother? kicks ass.
5. Your father? also kicks ass.
6. Your favorite thing? life, the universe, everything.
7. Your dream last night? so weird. first, i was lost trying to find the school bus stop. then i tried helping a little girl with an allergic reaction, but just ended up giving her some potato chips. finally found the bus stop, and was asked to look over a classmate's photo portfolio, which had some interesting ideas. then i woke up and thought about trying some of those ideas out.
8. Your favorite drink? currently, remembering some yummy peach juice i had on vacation, as well as a beer local to sopron called, strangely, soproni.
10. The room you're in? the bathroom. i'm not proud.
11. Your ex? the most recent one... i don't know at all. he could be anywhere. or nowhere. i wish i knew. or maybe i'm glad i don't.
12. Your fear? losing passion.
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? somewhere i wouldn't expect.
14. Where were you last night? home again, home again, jiggity jig.
15. What you're not? pushy.
16. Muffins? nate just yesterday bought me a double chocolate muffin at the amsterdam airport. he knows.
17. One of your wish list items? a bike tour vacation.
18. Where you grew up? us/new york/manhattan/UES&the village
19. The last thing you did? made breakfast; watched some crappy tv.
20. What are you wearing? jammie pants and my longsleeve honda shirt.
21. Your TV? sizeable and in the living room.
22. Your pet(s)? no pets, just three plants.
23. Your computer? macbook. still in hiding - i'm using nate's.
24. Your life? not too unusual - an average blend of all parts of the spectrum. so far i've been dealt a pretty decent hand.
25. Your mood? today - positive.
26. Missing someone? a few people.
27. Your car? nonexistent. although, i do now carry the extra key to nate's honda.
28. Something you're not wearing? bra.
29. Favorite Store? i can't think of one - maybe one of the local bookstores.
30. Your summer? some intense work is coming up, a weekend in july with family, and not too many plans yet. hopefully lots of time with my bike and friends.
31. Love someone? as katy said, "lots of someones."
32. Your favorite color? changes all the time - today i'm feeling a plum/beet kind of thing.
33. When is the last time you laughed? joking with nate not too long ago.
34. Last time you cried? last night while watching new year baby.

final day in hungary

to end our time in budapest, nate and i used the hostel's two cruiser bikes for a great last day around town. we biked along the buda side of the danube to the city limits, passing along the way lots of sunbathers and boat rental places and fish fry restaurants. the path extends from germany to the black sea, so we only did a small section. we saw lots of weekend warriors in full road bike gear and riding highly expensive bikes - all quite overkill given the pancake flatness of the path and the leisurely pace of most riders. from that path we stopped at a restaurant for lunch, explored margaret island, and stopped at a square hosting a wine tasting where we watched a wedding party, and purchased dried fruit and candies from a booth for a snack.

after the danube path, we biked to the pest side and up andrassy utca. our goal was to visit the house of terror - a testimonial to the nazi and communist regimes that oppressed budapest for decades. the terror house website has the right feel and look of the museum, but doesn't do the exhibits justice. no cameras were allowed inside, which is too bad because i would have loved to share some of the powerful displays. this may be the best exhibit i have seen that used various technologies and medias to express content. almost none of the displays had english, though there is an audio guide in english, which we didn't use, and informative handout sheets in hungarian and english in each of the rooms. (a brief description here.)

we ended the day by going into the park area behind heroes' square, and then stopping back at the square to watch a few kids doing tricks on bmx bikes. nate tried to teach me how to pop a wheelie, but i don't have the timing right yet.

we're not too much about the souvenirs, but nate and i both brought home a lot of freckles and plenty of pink scalp. we did spend a lot of time with cameras in hand, so we'll post shots at some point.

May 23, 2008

beyond budapest

the visit to sopron was lovely, despite some colder than expected weather. we wandered the inner old city in the dusk and evening, searched for restaurants that weren't the worst of the tourist traps (we steered far from the "english pub" style restaurant) and found a relatively inconvenient short-cut to the street of our hotel.

we spent one afternoon going out to visit the esterhazy palace, just a shell of its once awesome splendor. no visit of the palace is allowed unless guided, and so we paid for the hungarian guide and were led around like puppies. impressive spaces, despite the absensce of just about all the original furnishings. esterhazy was a great patron of the arts, and even built separate quarters for hayden to use, and use he did - for close to 30 years. an impressive bit of forest to the rear goes with the territory. they also had a separate building for marionette shows. (nytimes did an article on esterhazy and the region, including sopron. (read here)

on the way out of any town, as soon as you hit the fields of green and grapes there are also thousands of poppies. they are so beautiful and vibrant. a single poppy is flimsy, and looks like a breath of air will knock it down - the petals are thin but look wide enough to catch the wind. a whole field of them and they become a red glaze in the sun. i think i'm in love with them now.

we spent yesterday in vienna, only 2.5 hours away by train from sopron. unbeknownst to us, austria was on a bank holiday. that explained why my first impression of vienna was that of a ghost town. streets were quiet and empty, and far from what i expected of such a large and prestigious city. despite almost no street life, we found a cafe for lunch, wandered the grounds of belvedere palace, and visited prater, vienna's amusement park - home of a giant ferris wheel called the riesenrad, erected in 1897. each compartment is actually like a small train car. of course we took a ride!

and now, we are back in budapest. we arrived midday and spent the afternoon in the var district, visiting the castle and wandering streets within its walls, as well as taking an hour or so to see the national gallery. it was a beautiful day and we used up the rest of the daylight people watching and hanging out in the south of the city. we ate dinner at an outdoor cafe.

all of our four dogs are barking. we may just lay horizontal for awhile and read or maybe just fall asleep early. tomorrow we will try to take some bikes out around town, maybe along the river banks. we've been recommended the terror museum twice now, and also got an inside tip today about a place to find great graffiti work. the weather should hold. we're hoping for a fantastic final full day in hungary.

May 20, 2008

see you soon, budapest.

all packed up and breakfasted, almost ready to leave budapest for the western hungarian town on sopron (pronounced SHOH-pron). a couple of hours on a train and we'll be shoulder-to-shoulder with bordering austria.

they've had sporadic rain showers over the past two days - first we got caught in a fast and furious storm as soon as we paid entry into Statue Park, a permanent resting place for all the propagandistic statuary extolling the power of communism. seemed a fitting atmosphere for the activity. nate and i tried to take a few appropriately off-kilter angled photos while dodging the rain drops, with some success. as we exited and waited for the bus back to budapest, the rains ended again. that was after a gloriously sunny early part of the day on the buda side of town, enjoying the novelty of a train ride up the hills, the system entirely run by children. nate has a link up.

yesterday we stayed in the central part of pest and checked out the jewish museum in the synagogue which is the largest in europe, and the second largest after emmanuel in nyc. they have a somewhat interesting museum and a striking monument to the many lives lost in the holocaust, and close to a $20 entry fee. we spent only slightly more on lunch. we traipsed off to the downtown area - banks and consulates and governmental buildings - and then walked along the pest side of the danube to approach the parliament building, and get a really nice view back over our shoulders of the castle on the buda side. after a bathroom and gelatto break, we bought our train tickets and took a nap. dinner was at the "hummous cafe" - our cheapest, most satisfying and tasty dinner to date. to burn off some of the falafel, we walked from octagon square down andrassy street (old palacial homes now mainly embassys, museums, and doctor offices) to hero's square (statues of hungarian heroes) and back. then the rains started in earnest, lulling us to sleep, and making it very difficult to wake up.

still raining, and we're leaving unity hostel. we'll be back in budapest in three days for more exploring here.

May 18, 2008


our hostel room looks over the liszt music academy. the weather is warm enough that we have been leaving the windows open, and from mid-morning until night there are all sorts of talents and skills being practiced. yesterday afternoon we heard a melange of piano, violin, flute, and a female operatic voice. tonight, some more piano and string instruments. a nice and unexpected perk of this place.

pest. buda.

things we have learned so far: malev, the hungarian airline, has a logo that makes it look like a metal rock band. when taking the metro, look on the wall directly next to the train, instead of on the platform, to find which station you have just approached. despite many warnings about the hazards of biking on the streets of budapest, compared to boston it actually looks fairly tame and manageable. the meatloaf is not to be trusted - ask nate. buda is to the west of the danube, it is the more bourgeois residential side. pest is to the east of the danube, it is the city side with lots of shops and restaurants, downtown offices, etc. both sides have places for lap dances. magaret island is in the middle, accessible from one of the bridges. it is comparable to the boston common or central park. you can find plenty of people who speak english. i can't pronounce hungarian yet, hence the preceeding lesson is very useful. this is a relatively safe-seeming and lovely, if crumbling, city.

today and tomorrow we continue to explore. then we head to west of the country to a smalland supposedly nice town, where we can supposedly rent bikes. the plan is to poke around the countryside one day, and take a train ride into vienna another.

May 16, 2008

on the road again...

nate and I are now on the plane which will soon leave the gate and head to Amsterdam and from there, to budapest! so far, the security folk helped Nate find his missing paint scraper in the depths of his bag, and we ate pizza for dinner. Vacation is always fun and full of surprises.

May 12, 2008

yes, i'm procrastinating

katy's blog made me do it:

A - Attached or single? attached.
B - Best friend? nate, katy.
C - Cake or pie? cake. preferably chocolate.
D - Day of choice? thursdays are pretty darn good.
E - Essential item? chapstick with spf.
F - Favorite color? really feeling hot pink today.
G - Gummy bears or worms? worms.
H - Hometown? nyc
I - Favorite indulgence? jammy pants in the daytime.
J - January or July? january.
K - Kids? not yet, not for awhile.
L - Life isn't complete without? side-splitting tear-streaming laughter
M - Marriage date? n/a
N - Number of brothers and sisters? zero.
O - Oranges or apples? apples.
P - Phobia and fears? shallow standing water; drinking milk past the sell by date.
Q - Quote? worry pas.
R - Reason to smile? biking weather.
S - Season of choice? fall.
T – Time of day? evening hours.
U - Unknown fact about me? i'm not really five feet tall.
V - Vegetable? spinach, mushrooms, zucchini,...most!
W - Worst habit? snooze button.
X - X-ray or ultrasound? x-rays should be one of my phobias (the lead blanket makes it scarier), but it wins over the bladder-straining effect of ultrasounds i've had to date.
Y - Your favorite food? still obsessed with dried cherries.
Z - Zodiac sign? libra.

May 9, 2008

otro muerde el polvo

doorstop photos

ok. a few issues with the doorstop. i used a lightweight fabric, so it doesn't hold its shape very well. i may also have not trued up the fabric. however, it's got going for it that it's heavy, cute, and moveable. i played around a bit with decorative stitching on the handle. the fabric is by amy butler.

May 7, 2008

May 4, 2008

the doorstop is super cute. i really like it. however, i had not enough beans, so it's a bit floppy. nate assures me i can buy more beans, rip my handstitches, fill to the max, then resew. i sure can. not sure yet if it's worth it.

katy also lets me know that i am free to use her patterns at any time. good friend. next time i will certainly do so. at least i know i can make a pattern and it works. confidence boost in place, perhaps i should make all sorts of patterns going forward. maybe i will, once i master the art of the backstitch that doesn't make a seam look like crap.

oh, and pictures still to come. i had to use nate's camera because mine was out of juice, and he hasn't unloaded his memory card yet.

while typing that last bit i thought of that movie "batteries not included" and really wanted to watch it again just to see that cute little pepsi can premie ufo
i have spent the majority of my awake time today focused on making a doorstop. both the front door and the bathroom prefer stasis, returning to their closed positions when i most want them propped open. one of nate's shoes has been working as a counterweight - an imperfect solution on many levels. after much talk and much less action, i hunkered down to read and work with the project in the lotta jansdotter book on loan from katy. however, most of the measurements are in a pattern in a sealed pocket at the front of the book. instead of tearing apart someone else's book, i spent the early afternoon creating my own pattern based on the pictures and general directions. i've been at this for hours, figuring out what size i wanted, seam allowances, drawing and measuring, cutting, ironing, folding, pinning, and finally sewing. the results are good and it turned out to be a good way to spend the day. as soon as nate gets back from a few errands i will have dried beans for the filling. then i can hand-sew the opening and put it to work. pictures to follow upon completion.