November 15, 2006

Travels and travails

Somewhere around Tuesday of last week, I decided to visit family down in Baltimore. I had some extra incentive, in the way of at least one 30th birthday present languishing hundreds of miles away, and my uncle and aunt, who both are heading up to Maine for Thanksgiving and thus will not be present when I go back down to the Delmarva penninsula for the annual turkey dissection next (!) week.

I wish the weather had been more cooperative for the drive. After getting the 'Stang back from the mechanic, tuned and equipped with an entirely new exhaust system south of the catalytic converter, I put in a full day of work and heading south into driving rain. Six hours later, I pulled into Stonecrop looking for a break. Fortunately, Gimpadelic was able to put me up for the evening, as the wind and driving rain continued for the rest of the night.

After working from a Panera in Towson, MD on Thurday (free WiFi!), I enjoyed 80-degree temperatures next to the Daily Grind in Fells Point in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Extraordinary. I felt like I'd been in a season warp. Thankfully, I'd worn mesh shorts and a t-shirt under my warm-ups from the morning run, so I was able to strip down and actually bask while I typed away furiously.

I even managed to fit in a trip to Tochterman's and then the fishing pier at dusk, though no fish were interested in my offering that particular night. After catching eight stripers earlier in the month on the Cape Cod Canal, I was willing to just get my line wet.

I spent some more time in the car on Saturday, road-tripping with my parents down to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Thankfully, someone else did the driving, leaving me to (nearly) finish State of Denial in the back. Once we arrived, I was able to identify numerous flocks of ducks, several turtles (maybe red-bellies?), bald eagles, great blue herons, common terns, turkey vultures, a winter wren, shearwaters, mute swans and thousands of Canada geese.

The crab cake and oyster stew for lunch was pretty spectacular too.

I went out to Took Hill, my aunt's home in rural Maryland, to check on her and the kids. Aside from pulling back together some siding and stowing some ACs, I was able to siphon out 63 bottles of my uncle's last batch of apple cider. Some tasting then - and some confirmation later from Gimpadelic - indicated that the long fermentation had left it somewhere closer to apple jack or brandy. Either way, I hope that everyone enjoys it in years to come.

It's good to be back in MA now, though work is keeping me extremely busy. Some of that is certainly due to "losing" Tuesday to juty in downtown Boston. Thankfully, I've now met my service for the next three years. I did, however, find the jury pool holding room, an empty courtroom, to be one of the best reading environments I'd ever encountered. I read almost all of Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which is the best food journalism I've read since Fast Food Nation years ago. It was both engrossing and affecting. Both books, in concert with all that I learned growing up from my "back to the earth" family, have served to both subtly and dramatically alter the way I shop for, select, cook and eat, though simple expediancy still occasionally defines what's for dinner.

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