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Posts Tagged ‘Theresa’

Just west of the intersection of 52nd and College Avenue in Indianapolis you will see a new facade. It’s nothing flashy, but the sign had caught my attention recently. It says, Garuda Indonesian Restaurant. Like this:

Hailed as Indiana’s very first Indonesian cuisine, we were excited to try it out. “Oooh, the Spice Islands!” and so on.

So we did.

Let me first say, don’t attempt to park in Garuda’s impossibly tiny parking lot. Even if you do get a spot, it’s not easy getting back out onto 52nd street from it. It’s much, much easier to keep driving about 50 feet or so to Broadway, where parking is plentiful and just a short jaunt to the door.

The inside of Garuda is put together well. The walls are painted in rich, dark colors, and the decor is not bad. I liked the painted brick floor, but I didn’t like how there is no back wall, and you can see straight into the kitchen from every seat in the house. Overall the cozy space gives a generally classy feel.

During our visit we were one of only two parties dining at Garuda. We were seated immediately and the owner, Peter Oomkes, sat down with us to explain the menu since we were completely unfamiliar with Indonesian cuisine. That was a plus.

We ordered two appetizers, Tofu Lumpa and Vegetable Satay. But first, they brought out Krupuk, which is a kind of spongy fried shrimp cracker. I didn’t care for the taste of the cracker, but it did come with a spicy peanut dipping sauce that was quite good.

The Lumpa, a type of spring roll, was tasty, though more reminiscent of a hash brown than a spring roll, in my opinion and experience. The veggie Satay was like a miniature shish-ke-bob, and was also tasty, though not amazing.

For our entrees we ordered the Bami Goreng (noodles and mixed vegetables), Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice with vegetables, and chicken), and Kare Opor (Indonesian chicken curry).

The Bami Goreng (above) was, I think, the most flavorful dish. I’m a little disappointed that they used dumpling egg noodles instead of an Asian noodle. I would be curious to know how the taste would change if traditional noodles had been used. I only tried a bite of this, but Theresa ate the entire thing and reported that it was good.

Now would be a good time to point out that the portions at Garuda are rather small. I prefer this because I don’t like having leftovers or wasting what I can’t eat. However, anyone with a bigger appetite might consider ordering two entrees.

My entree was Nasi Goreng. The presentation of this dish is perfect for me: separate little piles of every component, ready to be mixed and matched however I please in each bite. How did they know that’s how I like to eat? Maybe I have Control Freak written all over my face, I dunno. At any rate, my little pile of rice, little pile of chicken, little pile of veggies and my egg kept me occupied for the short time it took me to scarf the whole thing down. My only complaint? This is the most bland meal I have ever eaten. Apparently Peter Oomkes missed his latest shipment from the Spice Islands. The tiny dusting of soy sauce atop my rice pile was the only added flavor. Of course, Peter did point out to me that I could add flavor with the two pots of sweet sauce and hot sauce that were on the table from the beginning, but I didn’t want either, I wanted spices. Luckily bland food tends to be very palatable to me so I didn’t really care too much so long as I wasn’t going hungry.

I also tried a bite of the Kare Opor. It was very curry-y. Jeff reported it as being a very bland curry, and the chicken very dry. He mixed in the spicy peanut sauce that we both liked in order to add flavor to the dish.

So, the food is bland. That was a disappointment. As for the service, well…it wasn’t horrible. There were some things that were left out here and there, and getting enough plates to share our appetizers was a challenge, but those aren’t things that can make or break a meal. The worst part of the service was that one person would get their entree, then ten minutes later the next person would get theirs, and so on. If Theresa and I had been polite and waited for everyone to get their food before we began, then our food would have been cold by the time the curry rolled out.

I understand that the kitchen was short staffed. I could easily tell this because the chef was cooking about 15 feet from our table with no wall between us. But really, considering that there were about six people in the dining room, they are simply going to have to step up their production efforts in order to run a successful restaurant.

Overall, we decided as a group that, if we were going to spend $10-15 per entree on another dinner anytime soon, we would choose from a number of other places before we chose Garuda. Viet Bistro, India Garden, Thai Cafe: all these places close by offer a LOT more bang for your buck. Larger portions, amazing flavors, variety, hard-earned popularity, and variety—

all these things Garuda has not.

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One fine day last summer, we were roaming around downtown Cincinnati on a trip to visit Jeff’s sister, looking for something to entertain us. Downtown Cincy isn’t always the most happening place, you know. While passing by some store fronts, a display of brightly designed skateboards caught Jeff’s eye, and he beckoned us back for a look. We were pleasantly surprised, and looked for the name of the store: Harper Studios. Hmmm. We tentatively ventured indoors, and were greeted by a small gallery space packed with art that instantly won us over.

Of course, the first thing I noticed was that everything was animals. Then, I noticed the incredibly unique minimalist style and the vivid colors. Things just kept getting better and better. These weren’t just paintings of animals, they were works dripping with personality and insight, full of charm. It was impossible not to smile as I recognized the quirky little habits of all the wildlife I love personified in these flat, two-dimensional images. Geometry and nature were fused into one medium which was guaranteed to win me over. We left with a catalogue of Charley Harper’s works, and kept coming back to enjoy the fun images time and time again that weekend.

Last Christmas, I had the great fortune of receiving not one, but three Charley Harper prints! They seem to blend in naturally with my decor and color scheme, and I never get tired of admiring them. Thank you Ang, Trese, and Jeff!

So who is this Charley Harper guy, and what is his studio doing hiding out in downtown Cincinnati?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Charley Harper was born and raised on the family farm in West Virginia, where he no doubt developed his keen perception of the quirks of nature. He left home to attend the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he met his wife and fellow artist Edie, and where he stayed on for years as a teacher. Eventually he worked in the commercial art world before opening his very own studio. He became immensely popular before he died in 2007, and his works can be seen in books, posters, and displays across the country. Since I fell in love with Harper’s gallery last summer, I’ve been more aware of his works popping up in random places. Walking through the education building at the Indianapolis Zoo, a Charley Harper print would catch my eye. Perusing photos of interior design spaces, I get excited when I notice a Charley Harper book artfully placed on a coffee table. And of course, at the Cincinnati Zoo there is a wealth of Charley Harper waiting to be noticed by the zoo-goer in the know.

What is so appealing about Charley’s works? Well, it has something to do with the way he takes an impossibly dense natural situation, and breaks it down with mathematical simplicity into a scene that instantly reflects the complex beauty of nature. Each image tells a story. As Charley used to explain it: “I don’t try to put everything in, I try to leave everything out.”

You’ll just have to see for yourself what we mean…

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It may be 90 degrees outside with the summer solstice fast approaching, but I’m already looking forward to winter.

Why?

Reason #1: New hats that transform me into a variety of whimsical creatures. Thanks Ang and Trese!

Reason #2: These bad babies. Thanks Grandma!

I’m sure to be stylish, warm, and comfortable all year long!

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Although I was not successful in my attempt to curb my Facebook usage last month, April turned out to be pretty astounding in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I did manage to accomplish a few of the things on my list, but the real joy came in unexpected packages.

April started off with a wonderful surprise gift. Jeff gave me a very special Marie-sized guitar, which he had carefully restrung so that I can play left-handed. I consider this to be perhaps the most thoughtful and generous gift I have ever received, as it includes not only the physical object (which is quite beautiful), but comes complete with a committment of the time and effort and patience that will doubtless be needed to teach me to play. School and work and life in general has prevented me from having the time to do any more than learn a few chords, though I did manage to learn my first melody, which is the intro to Tom Petty’s “Honeybee.” Needless to say I am very much looking forward to spending the summer aqcuiring my new musical skill.

So, one thoughtful turn deserves another, right? I decided to forego my studies for a night (an ENTIRE night!) and give my creative muscles a good flexing. Early one morning I stopped by Jeff’s to leave a special message. That message started with a splash of hearts..

…which climbed up the furniture..

..swarmed the windows..

..passed the friendly paper squid..

..and finally rested in the doorway, ready to greet as cheerfully as possible.

Though quite exhausting for 12 solid hours’ worth of cutting and taping, I think the results were well worth the effort!

My other unplanned April adventure came with a pretty epic road trip. Angela, Theresa and I drove to San Francisco, California, making the trip in just two days, with another two days to spend sightseeing and helping Ang get settled as well as she could in her new apartment there. Though the photos taken were numerous, I will post just one here which I think does a pretty good job of summing up the grandeur and beauty and adventure contained in those four short days that we were lucky enough to get to spend together.

Even with the coming of May and the end of the spring semester, my life has not become any less eventful. This week has been my very first working as an intern for WildCare clinic in Bloomington. The experience has been both overwhelming and wonderful so far. I wouldn’t even be able to recount all the different species I have seen in the past few days alone. And throughout it all the staff at the clinic have been amazingly patient and eager to let each of the interns gain the fullest experience possible. Several times I have had a baby raccoon or an opossum joey suddenly placed in my unexpecting hands, much to my utter delight.

I’ve learned so much about wildlife in the past two weeks that I can’t believe I ever thought I knew anything before now! I feel extremely privileged to be soaking it all up firsthand. On Monday I learned that opossum joeys are very fond of climbing on my braided hair, and that they have tiny, alligator-like mouths too big for their bodies, that can clamp down relentlessly on said braid, rendering me quite helpless. I’ve also learned that baby raccoon urine has a very distinct smell, especially when it is dropping in copious amounts onto the top of my shoe. Just today I learned how to sex a turtle, and how to get a starving nuthatch fledgling to eat. (How? you ask. Simple. Take a waxworm, cut it in half, heat in the microwave for a couple of seconds, soak in warm water, and serve. Num num.)

Unless you know me well I don’t think I can adequately relate just how delightful it is for me to be able to recount the past week and remember all the animals: the noisy starling fledglings, the robin, the box turtle, the coyote pup, the baby opossums and baby skunk and baby raccoons, the beautiful fawn, the clever crows, the tiny helpless hummingbird, the countless baby bunnies and the owls and the crazy squirrels. –it is going to take me most of the summer just to get used to the novelty of it all, though I never expect to stop being delighted with each and every new patient I have the good fortune to encounter.

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Christmas Eve, 1987. Reading, Pennsylvania.

Our house in Reading had four bedrooms. I have no recollection of my parents’ bedroom. I slept in a small room on the first floor; Angela and Theresa in the bunk and I in my own little wooden bed with the plastic-coated mattress. Upstairs was a finished attic space which Jennifer and Cindy shared.

Also upstairs was an unfinished attic space which housed the boys. They always seemed to get the short end of the deal when it came to divvying up the bedrooms, but they never seemed to mind. I remember their room, the boards on the walls, and the orange and brown plaid sheets on the beds. If I hung around for long enough there, one of them would give me candy just to get me to go away.

On Christmas Eve we were sent upstairs to wait for Santa. It was a family tradition to open presents on Christmas Eve, which meant that Santa would appear at a pre-appointed time during which we kids would all have to gather in the upstairs room waiting while he dished out the goods. That evening I lay on Jennifer’s bed and watched out the window for Santa and his reindeer. I could see Rudolph’s nose blinking far away on a distant hill. It never seemed to get any closer, but I knew it was Rudolph.

Mom and Dad called to us that Santa had left, and I rushed down the steps, completely convinced that I had just missed him.

I sat on the floor in front of the console tv and ripped into my presents. I remember quite clearly opening a large box which contained my brand new, shiny red tricycle. Unlike the big trikes my brothers would race in the basement, this one was just my size. And since I was the youngest this meant that no one else would be allowed to use it. I relished this.

Christmas Eve was the one day of the year when we were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted to play with our new toys and eat candy. Somehow this never seemed to work out so well as I dreamed it would, as I inevitably ended up being carried off to bed, having fallen fast asleep after a mere hour or two of celebration.

********************************

Merry Christmas!

May you celebrate with such joyful abandonment

that you have to be carried off to bed.

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Nostalgia

In my earliest memory I am two and a half, sitting in the cab of a pickup truck next to Theresa. Mom is driving, and has just realized that she has left the cap of the gas tank at the gas station. We turn around and head back.

********************************************************

At three years I am standing at the foot of the stairs at our house on 47th Street. I look on silently as a wet, steady stream cascades down the wooden steps. My eyes follow a trail of broken glass to where Theresa stands at the top of the stairs, gazing down at her prized possession lost: a giant pickle jar once lovingly filled with river water. Tadpoles, shells, slimy pebbles now lie strewn about and encroaching upon the front entryway.

She looks upset.

The musty smell makes me think camping: plastic mugs hung on tree branches, a hammock. For that split second time halts, and we both stare dumbfounded at the scene, anticipating Mom’s frantic investigation.

*********************************************************

A tornado came through the neighborhood. We went to the basement, and someone set me on top of a tall dresser near a window. A distraction occurred and for a brief moment that seemed interminable I was stranded alone on my perch. I turned to the window to watch the branches falling outside.

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icytree

It’s the time of year when everything seems to get a little harder. Days are shorter. It’s easier to wake up in the dark thinking that you have hours left to sleep, only to realize it’s about that time: Time to get up into the drafty air, waiting for your body to readjust and stop aching with cold. It’s harder to find enough clothes to wear; harder to want to walk out that door and shiver in the car until the heater warms up.

For some of us this time of year begins earlier than for others. And I’m not talking about a difference in climate, I’m talking about difference in bodily qualities. Studies have been done which indicate that the way fat is distributed in a persons body can make her more susceptible to feeling cold. Those of us (typically women) who are designed to have a higher core body temperature are often the ones responsible for the cold hands and feet under the covers. Of course factors such as diet, activity levels, and even sleep patterns can also mess around with our ability to tolerate cold. I come from a long line of women with poor circulation, who all know that winter really begins sometime in September, and lasts full on til that point in May or thereabouts when we can walk about in our own homes without that chilly undercurrent tensing our bodies.

And yet, for all the moaning and heartache that occurs the first night when it drops below sixty degrees, there is a certain charm inherent in this darker half of the year which is sometimes easy to overlook. Since this year’s summer equinox I’ve been compiling a list in my head of all the reasons I can conceive to look forward to the cold weather. Most of these are highly personal (I know not everyone has a dragon hat to anticipate wearing), but my hope is that everyone will be able to appreciate and perhaps chip in with some reasons of their own.

  • As mentioned above, my latest favorite part of the season is the opportunity to wear my dragon hat. It’s a blue wool cap that Theresa bought for me in Atlanta last December; complete with flaps to cover the ears, fleece lining, and a silly cartoon dragon face knitted onto the top. This thing has horns. It’s delightfully preposterous, which is of course right up my alley.
  • There’s something unmistakably nostalgic about the first day you wake up, walk straight to the thermostat and crank it up to 70, waiting for the furnace to kick on. The gentle white noise of the warm air being pushed through the heater ducts is soothing. I like to curl up on a heater grate with a blanket reading or doing whatever, while experiencing the intermittent extremes of hot and cold. Heater kicks on, everything is good, you start sweating, blanket comes off, butt gets a tad too toasty, adjustments are made, heater stops running, blanket is reapplied, and you sit patiently for the process to begin again.
  • Over and over again I hear the refrain “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!” It seems that everyone loves getting together with family members for food food and more food. Personally, the cold dark days get me looking forward to Christmas and all the loot I’m gonna rake in! Hey I love family and the spirit of giving, but making my Christmas wish list sure makes a chilly night seem brighter.
  • I adore soup. I eat it year-round. I will order it from a restaurant on the sunniest, hottest day of summer and won’t even think twice about whether or not this is appropriate. I will eat it any time of day. I don’t care. I love soup. And soup in the winter time is even better. The best part about wintertime soup is when you have to stop eating to take off your sweater mid-way through.
  • As much as I love soup, I hate doing dishes. But, standing at the sink with my hands plunged into a basin of hot soapy water wile watching snowflakes drift past the kitchen window really does approach enjoyableness.
  • Cuddling is good year-round, but in the wintertime it’s phenomenal. Even kitties think so. Around this time of year I typically get an extra 20 or so pounds of living breathing fur-covered heating pads dotting the duvet and keeping my toes warm.
  • I read once that people who are holding warm drinks are more trusting and “warm” toward others. I know that for me one of the things I look forward to most around October is bringing home a jug of apple cider and some cinnamon sticks to warm on the stove. I can’t get enough of it, and it makes the house smell great. Take a swig before you head out in the morning and maybe scraping the frost from the windshield won’t be so awful. On a side note, I also read once that bumblebees seek out warmer flowers because they like warm drinks too!
  • ‘Tis the season for watching all the classic Christmas movies–you know, Love Actually, Christmas Vacation, While You Were Sleeping, etc!
  • At my house, I breathe a sigh of relief for the time of year when the wildlife begins to settle down. Not only are my own cats much more interested in staying indoors and sleeping (instead of scratching at windows to be let in, or meowing to be let out all night, or bringing in their various catches of the day), but my raccoon and opossum friends are more interested in staying outdoors, which is good! I’m getting used to controlling the wildlife traffic flow in my house, but these days there are fewer nights interrupted by ravenous coons in the kitchen.
  • Just as getting out in the spring to plant flowers and rev up that mower is simply joyous, I find much contentment in these days when my lawn doesn’t need to be mowed, and nothing needs to be watered. I do still need to rake, but once that’s done I won’t have to lift a finger for yard work for another four or five months. Hallelujah.
  • This semester I am driving downtown to school at least 7 times a week. I take the same route every time, and every time I get stuck at the same streetlight wedged between a liquor store and one of those scary looking “churches” tucked away in an abandoned looking mini mall. This corner hosts some of the scariest-looking people I have seen in Indianapolis. They mosey about this intersection, stumbling between cars and asking for money on the perpetual trek between the liquor store and the front steps of this place of sketchy worship where they perch with their brown paper bags in hand. Perhaps they are less fortunate, but I certainly am relieved when the cooler weather drives them back to their own homes or perhaps just back into the liquor store and away from my driver’s side window.
  • I’ve gotten to a point where it’s difficult to sit at home and study if I do not have a fire going. A fire is almost a human presence in the house. It warms but it also cures loneliness. I don’t know how this works but it works for me.
  • A change in clothing is a big part of winter (obviously). Stretchy pants are my favorite part of winter clothing. I actually enjoy the cooler spring and fall days when I can pair a dress or skirt with a pair of leggings and feel super cozy and cute. And in the bitterest of cold days, a pair of stretchy pants beneath a pair of jeans goes a really, really long way toward warding off the miserable cold. And it just feels comforting!
  • Everyone loves a snow day. Come on. There’s no summer day on the beach that can compare to that dark blustery morning when you check the listings and find out that you, my friend, get to climb back in bed, not worry about work or school, and spent the day under a huge pile of blankets.
  • Reason #15 that I look forward to winter? –Huge piles of blankets.
  • I am an avid tree admirer. I can’t help it, I just notice nice trees and like to point them out to other people. Trees without leaves are especially enjoyable, because then you can truly appreciate the beauty of an oak or a sycamore with their unique forms that might otherwise go unnoticed. ¬†And no one can deny the beauty of a snow-covered or ice-glazed tree.
  • I don’t know how many people spend countless uncomfortable hours in the summertime shivering in frigid, super-air-conditioned restaurants and grocery stores, movie theaters, and classrooms. I sure do. In the wintertime I don’t have to worry about bringing a jacket to a date on a 90-degree day. I don’t have to stash a sweater in my backpack, or feel silly toting extra layers with me when I go shopping. The day those a/c units are shut down sure is a relief to me!

I could go on, but I think I get my general idea across, right? Without winter I wouldn’t get to look forward to the coming of spring and greenery and warm weather. But even more importantly, without winter I wouldn’t get to look forward to–well, winter.

Dragon Hat

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