Sunday, October 25, 2009

Caramel Apple Ed Debevic's

Yesterday Sara's mom, Sue, came up to the city for dinner and caramel apple making. We went to this place in town called Ed Debevic's, which is one of those 1950s-inspired jobs that serves your basic burgers and fries, and where the wait staff dance on the counters to Blues Brothers songs and are allowed to be rude to you. In other words, the only restaurant where I could ever imagine myself successfully working. (I haven't totally talked myself out of applying for a job there, either, so stay tuned.)

Here are some photos from our meal:

I love this lady.

He loves that lady.

Everybody loves that baby.  

The staff danced to "Let Me See You Shake Your Tailfeather."  Our server was the one in the yellow.

And Logan tried soda for the first time (lemon-lime something or other). Welcome to the national addiction, sir! :) Water will never be enough again.

Then we came home and made caramel apples. Sara is quite the domestic goddess, always finding new recipes and crafty things to try. It was fun, although none of mine were deemed good enough to give away to people. THEY JUST CAN'T HANDLE MY GENIUS!!! Sigh. It's ok, because I'd rather eat them myself anyway. *whimper*

These are the ones that "made the cut".

 These are the ones that did not.

These are my two best ones. I call the one on the left "Summer of Love" and the one on the right "Crazy Lady." Can't you see her curlers and imagine her bathrobe?

I'm a serious artist.

                                She's a crazy craft lady!

Nom nom nom...

Homage to Babyhood: A Day In the Life With Logan

One of the benefits of staying with Sara and Steve is that they come with a really cute, 11 month-old baby named Logan. I'm the oldest of three kids and fondly remember the days before both of my siblings (Thor and Sigrún) could talk, and just toddled around doing everything I asked and generally being adorable. Needless to say, it's been a very long while since I've lived with a baby full time. So I thought I'd highlight some of the things he brings to the table in the LIFE of INGAAAAA.

I sleep on a fold-out couch in the living room, which becomes Logan territory when he wakes up, which is usually when I'm in sweet, replenishing deep sleep. It's my own fault for staying up as late as I do, I've officially learned my lesson and resolve to go to bed earlier this very night. But no matter. By the time I finally open my eyes it's usually because he has crawled up to the sofa-bed and started pinching my toes. I sit up and see some version of this:

Then he likes to come up to the side of the couch and play peek-a-boo, during which time I usually sniff him and growl like a monster, which he likes very much. Apparently Sara sniffs at him too, so he's used to it.

(The flash makes him blink.)

After that I get dressed, eat breakfast, fold up the bed, and we spend a little time playing while Sara showers, tidies up, or goes on the computer.

We're watching you....

Then sometimes he gets a little cranky, which seems to mean he's hungry, so that's where Mommy takes over and feeds him.

Which makes him sleepy....

And then it's nap time.

After a while, poor Sara needs to get hyperactive Inga and re-energized Logan out of the house, so we all pile into the car and go run errands. One day I needed to buy a new pair of pants, so we went to the mall (yuck) where he discovered a three-way mirror and had a blast.

Then  we had to go to the grocery store to get, you guessed it, groceries.

Ah, the fruits and nuts section!

It's hard to stay awake in the car.

Then it's home to get ready for dinner, which is always exciting.
After that it's bath time, which, it goes without saying , is chock full of cuteness and is lots of fun. Like all babies, he loves naked time, when he gets to shed the textile chains of the Man and be free!

Woo! That was fun! The later it gets, the crankier he starts to get, and pretty soon it's time for bed.

However, with all the excitement of the arrival of this strange new creature called Auntie Inga, the first few nights were a little bit rough, with him waking up just when the adults were ready to crash themselves.

But it's ok because he's so darned cute, and now he's back on his regular sleep schedule. Well, that is an encapsulated version of what it's like to live with Logan. Apparently, being nearly one year old is a roller coaster ride of emotions, and comes with a soundtrack of impossibly sweet, almost cliché babbling that sounds like a cartoon baby. It's lots of fun and a lot of work for mom and dad.

This post was brought to you by: Graham crackers. Logan's current favorite.

Thanks for stoppin' by!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Arrival: Chicago

Today's drive felt a lot longer than yesterday's, even though it was almost exactly the same in time and distance. Maybe because the terrain was a lot more monotonous. I got bored eventually, sick of my music and singing and since it was a weekday there weren't that many people available to talk on the phone.

But I did drive past the largest Christmas tree farm in Indiana, which was cool, I guess. Lots of baby Christmas trees. Pretty much what you'd expect.

Then the road crazies started setting in. I experienced this a LOT when I was driving cross-country moving to California. I drove to Oklahoma alone, where I picked up my friend Kevan, who drove the rest of the way through the beautiful West. But that part in the middle, where I was alone with nothing to do but stare straight ahead at land that looked like this:

...was rough. The road crazies set in.

This time they only lasted for a couple of hours, which is much better than a couple of days. I killed time by thinking about fried green tomatoes, and different ways to prepare bacon. Over the course of the whole trip I saw three groundhogs by the side of the road. Alive.

I finally arrived in Chicago around 7:30 p.m. I tried to take a good picture while battling traffic and fading light but it didn't work out. Rest assured, the city looked a lot like this:

I arrived at Sara's and Steve's apartment, gulped down a can of soup from a little store nearby that has beer and... soup. Then I ate one of the Orchard apples and hung out with my new temporary roommates. I've got my own little shelf in the cupboard, and a temporary parking sticker, and some luggage. Now I just need a job, and once I get that I'll get an apartment, then I'll start auditioning and taking classes and doing lots of other fun things.

Here I am eating my soup.

This is my favorite roommate and Sara. : ) Right now Logan (the one in mid-blink) is uncharacteristically restless and is staring at me and smiling. He's very distracting. I'm going to go smush him and and kiss him and try to help Sara get him back to sleep. Good night!


Yowza, that was a long-ass day.

I woke up from diagonally-splayed bliss to the sound of my cell phone blaring and my mom announcing the dawn from Maryland. Did something with my bangs (still getting used to having to do anything more than brushing to my hair in the morning) and stumbled to the lobby for a heapin' helpin' of scrambled eggs and biscuits'n'gravy. Yummm...

A shower and a few chapters of this really good book I'm reading, loaned to me by my aunt, called The Horse Boy, and then it was time to go retrace my Wadsworthian childhood years...

This was our house. The shutters and door are a different color now. My room was where the two leftmost windows upstairs are. It looks the same but the trees in the back are bigger now. Also, the surrounding neighborhoods are a lot more developed, and the street seems SO much shorter than it did when I was a kid. Of course, driving is a lot different than trudging around trick-or-treating in the snow, for example.

This is the corn field behind our house. Sometimes it was also a soybean field, and other times it just lay fallow. All of us kids, including the neighbors, played in there for hours, lots of fun. (It seems impossible to write this without mentioning "Children of the Corn." So there.)

The houses from behind.

  Great Oaks movie theater. I remember seeing Hook, Wayne's World, The Sandlot, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Tommy Boy here, among others. All for no more than $3.00 per ticket!

Buehler's grocery store. The kind of a high-quality, privately owned place that could only survive as long as it has, even in the face of a Super Wal-Mart right around the corner, in a small town. And while we're on the subject of Beuhler's... I don't know if it's the store itself, or if Midwesterners really are even friendlier than I remember, but I had such a wonderful shopping experience there today. I went in to pick up some sandwich ingredients to eat on my way out of town. While it always looked nice when I was a kid, it's been expanded and even has an artisanal cheeses section! I got a small salad at the salad bar (trying to undo breakfast and the pizza last night) and then made my way to the deli counter. I explained to the woman behind the counter that I was just passing through and was hoping to buy just a couple of slices of meat and a little cheese for a sandwich. She said something along the lines of, "Well, we're so glad you're here! Welcome! Looks like you haven't gotten any bread yet. You can find rolls at the bakery. Come on, I'll take you over there!" Then she came around the deli case and WALKED ME to the bakery! Astonishing. I commented on how great the store looks and how I hadn't been back since I was just a kid, and she asked me if I traveled because of my job. I told her, "No, I'm just one of those people who moved around a lot growing up, and I haven't stopped yet." She cutely replied, "Oh, well that's okay too!" which made me smile. Since I had my hands full with my salad and purse, she got me the roll of my choice from the bakery area, put it in a bag, and then walked me back over to the deli, telling me all of the different meats she had on sale. I chose her recommendation of brown sugar ham, picked out a cheese, and then she sliced the roll for me before sending me on my way with a, "We're so glad you stopped by, come back and see us sometime! Have a great trip!" Come to think of it, that was one of my best shopping experiences ever, I remembered to gush to her about how friendly she was and to thank her profusely for all her help.  But there was more to see...

Here it is... The holy grail of frozen custard treateries. Object of my frigid dairy desires. Bidinger's. I think I'll leave the rest unsaid, until Sara and Kasey and I return this summer to partake in its delights. For now I'll just let you bask in its radiance.

This was where my ballet school, the Northeast Ohio Dance Academy, used to be. Apparently, it moved to a different location and I didn't think to look it up before I left the hotel. Anyhoo, this was where a gangly, colt-like young Inga pliéd, tendued, and dégagéd her way through pre-adolescent growth spurts. : ) It was fun.

Central Middle School. I stopped by to see if my 6th grade teacher, the first person to ever tell me I should be an actress during my staunch veterinarian/marine biologist days, was still there. He had just taken a job as a tech person for the whole district, so I left a note at his office, maybe he'll remember me. I think he might, even though it was years ago, because my dad came in for career day when he was still in the Secret Service, showed everybody his Glock, and told a really good mountain climbing story before giving my teacher a Secret Service sweatshirt. But who knows, it was a long time ago...

The Wadsworth Public Library. It's huge and totally renovated, but I had to mention it because I looooved it as a kid. I was the Bookmobile's best customer. This library had such a great children's section, with a good selection of really old books from bygone eras, including this one with the words "Christmas Carol" in the title that was not the story by Dickens but this other one about a girl named Carol who was born on Christmas. I think it was Victorian or something. Anyway, as a larval book worm, future English geek, it was THE SHIT.

 Scene of the crime: Valley View Elementary! I went here for 4th and 5th grade, the "new girl" with a weird name. : ) Met and befriended Sara Daley, Anita Martin,  and Kasey Wallace, who famously introduced herself to me by walking up to me on the playground during the first recess on the first day of fourth grade, patting me on the head, and proclaiming, "Hi there. You're a nice girl. Kasey Wallace is my name, being funny is my game!" That sealed it.

This is Wadsworth Rittman Hospital, where my sister, Sigrún Eva, was born. She was induced so that my grandpa (whom we called "Opa") could babysit my brother and me while he was visiting us from wherever he lived at the time, Florida, I think. I was nervous all day and hoped she would be born in the morning so I could leave school early. All the fourth graders took swimming lessons that year, and I told the swim coach I didn't think I should get in the pool because my dad would probably be coming to pick me up early. My teacher, Mrs. Jensen, informed him, "Inga's a little bit nervous today because her mom is having a baby." Mr. Brown was very nice, but in the end I got in the pool. She was born AFTER school at 3:34 in the afternoon, while I was already home having my snack. THANKS A LOT!!! But I was stoked on having a little sister after five years of battling with my younger brother, Thor. I remember the first time I saw her in the hospital, she had really long fingers (the sign of a sneaky person, according to Icelandic old wives' tales) and big cheeks (the sign of my favorite kind of baby in my world). I guess we're keeping her.

This place used to be a tack shop, and smelled divinely like leather. I was obsessed with horses and took riding lessons for a time (there is still nothing more fun in the world than riding horses, not even a moonbounce filled with jello), and would sometimes bike to this tack shop with my dad to be near all things horsey. My dad once embarrassed the living bejeezus out of me when he tried to talk shop with the owner. I was sitting on a saddle, wishing it was attached to a horse instead of a wooden stand, and my dad, in his best, most shameless cowboy voice* told him, "M'daughter rides English, I ride Western. Yep... Figure we'll be doin' a little ridin'.. out New Mexico way.." I kid you not, he actually said the words, "out New Mexico way." Mortifying.

This is the Rittman Orchard, or as we called it, "The orchard where you can pick your own apples." Pretty great view, isn't it?  We used to go here sometimes and pick apples when they were in season. It was so much fun to be able to run around and climb the trees, or ladders leaning up against trees when they were available, chasing each other around the paths and junk like that. My favorite time was when my dad took me, my brother, and Lauren and Catherine, also known as "the twins" (one guess as to why) apple picking. Thor and I had just gotten these knitted stocking caps from Iceland that were all the rage among Icelandic kids that year when we went for Christmas. They hung down your back all the way to your ass. Mine was red with fluorescent pink and yellow geometric designs, and Thor's was brown with dark red and blue designs. Dad put Thor's hat on and spent the whole day whipping it around like a helicopter, gesturing with it ("This way, kids!") and generally acting like an idiot and cracking us up the whole time. He also supplied the voices of distant onlookers, saying things like, "Look at that retarded guy with those kids!" For years afterward, every once in a while when he did something silly in public one of us would exclaim, "Look, it's the retarded guy from the apple orchard again!"

Of course, when I went there they weren't allowing people to pick their own anymore for the season, so I bought a half-bushel of assorted apples. Here they are...

I also bought... wait for it... A PECK OF PEPPERS! That's right, just like the nursery rhyme. Proof:

While it goes without saying, yes, the only reason I bought these was so that I could say I bought a peck of peppers. Who wouldn't?

I'm a total autumn foliage whore and Ohio is ahead of Maryland with the leaves changing color, so I had to take a few pictures of those...

Remember in yesterday's post when I talked about Marie's? The now unoccupied original location is still standing. Here are two pictures of it, followed by the new location.

Below is a picture of the gazebo in the center of town. As a little kid I found gazebos to be utterly charming and terribly romantic. I was secretly thrilled (still upset about moving away from Florida) when we drove through the center of town for the first time to see that it had a real "downtown" like small towns I'd seen on television or read about, and that smack dab in the middle was a gazebo. 


I also liked this theater, even though I never went inside, because it also looked old-fashioned and was right near the gazebo. Kids...


So that was it for Wadsworth. Not long after this picture was taken I used the Wal-Mart restroom, bought some toothpaste and dental floss, and hit the road. Bound for Chicago and leaving Wadsworth to continue being a cute small town in the middle of America, as is right and proper.

*Ordinarily a strict John Wayne-ist, this voice sounded a lot more like "Cheyenne Body" from the show Cheyenne, which was a television series in the 1950s. The only reason I know that is because my dad used to sing me the theme songs of various cowboy shows sometimes at bedtime. I know all the words to the Cheyenne theme song, but only saw my first episode this year. I also know the theme songs to Have Gun, Will Travel, The Searchers, and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (which wasn't a cowboy show but still fairly obscure).