Saturday, 31 May 2008

takin cheep to norfolk via spain, italy, and brazil

dianna's brother chip finished up his exams at davidson and came to visit. we started his visit with a long bikeride to mt. vernon.

chip served a hmong-speaking mission in minnesota. he loves hmong people, and his girlfriend is hmong. so we figured the only place for him was norfolk, CT, with annie and vint.
this trip would also let us see norfolk in the spring, which is the only season we haven't visited in. so it was a no-brainer!

our 8 hour drive to connecticut begins. tomatoes and blackberries as snacks.

we stopped en route in new york city to see heather, eri, and gizele. gizele's surgery went perfectly, and heather is SO relieved and happy. we had a yummy tapas dinner at a spanish restaurant on the upper east side.

gizele does this scowling thing that totally cracks everyone up, including strangers on the street and waiters.

eri imitating her.

NORFOLK!! vint's garden is already fabulous. they're growing asparagus and rhubarb, which we happily ate in pie.

annie picked the rhubarb, and dianna has crowned herself miss rhubarb 2008.

annie decorated jake's place with fresh tulips for our arrival.

miss rhubarb 2008 and the garden.

in vint's greenhouse are the heirloom tomatoes from italy and germany. he gave me two plants, and dianna some seeds. hopefully we'll have fresh tomatoes all summer long and into the fall.

another botany lesson.

norfolk in the spring is so alive. you probably can't see the little ducklings in this photo, but they're there!

vint taking a breather during one of our nature walks.

vint's family used to make maple syrup during the winter. i took this picture so that i can make maple syrup, too. (if only!)

chip and one of the stinky dogs in the great mountain forest.

the rhubarb pie in phases. right now, it's a pasta pie, obviously.

chip on another nature walk. annie and vint are really serious about their hoods-to-woods program.
we spent lots of time talking to vint about the secret war and his life with the hmong. i think chip had fun.
thanks again, annie and vint!!!


we finally took a trip to see dianna's brother scott and sister-in-law caroline. we've been wanting to see them ever since they moved to chicago. we slept on a mattress in their living room, and had the time of our lives!

our trip started with a live taping of 'wait, wait, don't tell me' the npr news quiz show. dianna got us free tickets, and i thought it was so funny!

scott and caroline have perfected home-made sushi. here is the 'douglas roll' right before it gets rolled. spicy and crunchy!

caroline with a big home-made sushi smile!

why bother with chopsticks when your hands are so much faster??

dianna and scott, taking a short break from rolling sushi.

jackson douglas, refined and discriminating sushi taster.

such pride is sushi rolls!

so turns out that barack obama lives in scott and caroline's neighborhood! in fact, the morning that we arrived, he was using the gym in their apartment complex. scott wanted to go grab jackson for some photos, but president obama was gone by the time he got back.
this is his house. we drove by a couple of times, and the secret service was always on the lookout.
obama is super popular in hyde park, of course. his paraphernalia is everywhere.

second city. it's a comedy troupe in chicago that had us in stitches. we saw their show 'campaign supernova,' and highly recommend it.

this is the weiner circle, where scott and caroline can satisfy a late night craving for chicago-style hot dogs. delish!

dianna and i both ate hot dogs, after which caroline said she didn't want to hear any more about how we wouldn't eat chicken or steak.

two vegetarians.

at millenium park, there's a sculpture called the 'cloud gate'--chicagoans call it the 'jelly bean.'

the jelly bean is like a house of mirrors. for a couple of geeks like us, it's HOURS of free entertainment.

dianna reading 'dreams from my father' out loud in millenium park. we had a totally obama-mania weekend!

scott showing off his orange lips. orange because of super-buttery popcorn.

frisbee in the park. more free entertainment for geeks like us. jack is on the left, making frisbee friends.

on a ferris wheel at the navy pier. check out the view of the city behind us!

jack had a minor meltdown on the ferris wheel, but he managed to pull it together for at least one gorgeous family shot.

the train was a lot more impressive than the ferris wheel, as far as jack was concerned.

when it came time to walk back to the car, jack was done. he figured this piece of sidewalk was as good as any for a break.

we flew kites and played more frisbee on memorial day. we'd have pictures of all of that, but jackson is just so photogenic!!

the clean-up from all that digging around in the park.

limonada! yum!
dianna brought 8 limes to chicago in her suitcase, apparently thinking that limes just weren't available outside of washington, dc.

so, i decided that i really wanted to go on an architectural boat tour. dianna thought it smelled bad.

here we are on the boat tour. i just erased about 15 pictures of buildings, that i was going to display but then realized that it's boring to look at pictures of buildings.

the boat took us up and down the chicago river, and all the way into lake michigan. i was really surprised at how big the city is, especially from this view.

d and i took a memorial day dip into lake michigan.

jack thought about following us, but the water was really cold!

and then he accidentally fell in!! that was traumatic for everyone.

rice on his face and belly.

we drove by obama's house again. he still wasn't outside.

here's a wide angle shot of his house.

dianna crying outside the united terminal. i don't know what to say about our horrible day at o'hare with united, except to say that we were supposed to go home at 8:00 to dca, and finally arrived at home at midnight to bwi. flying sucks.

we did take a break from o'hare to go back to scott and caroline's one last time. here is dianna talking to her family about how miserable she is. but at least we're at a mexican restaurant!!

we played a ton of this game 'taboo' with scott and caroline. if you're a wordsmith and an english-language genius, it's a really great game.