Friday, September 28, 2012

Why did Snoop Dogg [Lion] need an umbrella? Fo'drizzle.

 Back to Seattle for a delightful Shabbat dinner and some more lessons, notably...


And then, continuing on with the Tour Of Former Students At Their Universities, I went to Puget Sound to see adorable Shosh and take the sort of pictures of her that her mom would take:

Next, on to Portland solely to spend more time and money than I really had to spare at Powell's City of Books, because, honestly, how could I not? (Did I download (and use!) the app?  Of COURSE I did.)

On the road with my audiobook for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday.  I MIGHT have gotten a speeding ticket but I MIGHT be pretty pissed about it and not want to talk about it thankyouverymuch.  The redeeming stop for Sunday was dinner with some wonderful old friends from Cambridge, MA - funny that we all live in California now.  They're all married to each other with ADORABLE toddlers... well, almost-toddlers.  Somehow, Sola didn't make it into any of the post-able pictures, but it was so nice to see her and Stephen (and Skyren!) and Jofish and Erin (and Rebecca and Lizzie!), whom you can see here:
Sonata for Ten Hands

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"We'll open the window so you can hear how polite everyone is during the merge."

[For the beginning of these adventures, or Why Is Erica in Canada, see here.]

So, I went to Canada, eh?  I drove up to Vancouver, got a stamp in my passport, and met up with some friends I met last year at Stockton Folkdance Camp.  They are an amazing couple and their house features a living room that looks out onto the harbor... and as soon as I walked in and sat down on their couch, I declared I was never leaving.  

Of course, moments later I was whisked off to a quick tour of the city, a walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a visit to the hatchery where we saw actual salmon JUMPING up the ladder (awesome), a ride up Grouse Mountain on the aerial tramway cable car funicular thing and then an even higher ride up on the chairlift, and then we went even higher higher up to the Eye of the Wind, which the webpage says is "the world’s first and only wind turbine that allows you to stand in a clear glass viewPOD at the top of the tower, three metres from its massive, rotating blades."  Breath-taking and fabulous. On the way down, we saw some bears. Then dinner, ice cream, and we stayed up talking in that greatest-living-room-ever until 2 in the morning.

The view OF the Eye of the Wind
The view FROM the Eye of the Wind

The next morning we walked around Granville Island while the weather was lovely, and just as I left their house to go visit some other friends, it turned overcast.  Once safely inside the other friends' house COINCIDENTALLY JUST DOWN THE BLOCK ON THE SAME STREET, WHICH IS TO SAY I KNOW TWO PEOPLE IN ALL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA AND THEY LIVE ON THE SAME STREET, it began to rain.  I have to say, I really appreciate the way the weather has been working with me on this trip.
The other friends I was visiting were Gopal and Radha Bello, also known as the Swami and the Married Woman, who led the trip to India I went on with my mom in 2010.  I haven't seen them since the trip, and it was just wonderful to see them and catch up and be reminded of some of the enlightening moments I had during that incredible tour.  They signed their new book for me, we chanted the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra (Om Tryambakam, my favorite!) and I drove back to the US.

I will be back, for a much longer visit.  I need to sit in that living room again.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What do you call a prune-plum that...

One of the main reasons I set out on this particular Northwest roadtrip was to spend some time with my dear friends in Seattle, Becca and Lior (and Bailey the Cute).  Becca and I go back a long ways and I've spent the holidays with her and her family before.  A noteworthy and memorable item from these holidays?  The 
tzvetchkedaatsche, obviously.  And since it's High Holiday time once again, the Lesson Becca teaches me should surely be how to make tzvetchkedaatsche.

The what?  you may now ask.  Like I said, the tzvetchkedaatsche, obviously.  Pronounced, by Becca and her family, as tsvetch-keh-dah-chi.  Pronounced by me, all these years, as tsvetch-keh-dah-chKi.  I swear that extra /k/ used to be in there, but anyway.  You don't care how it sounds, you still want to know what it is.

It's a German dessert, a Italian-prune-plum tart, obviously.  Sheesh.

Of course, I have failed to find reference to it on the web under this name, but I have found recipes for the cake itself under names like Zwetschgenkuchen and the one at German Pastry Baking, which explains that the German word for the plums is Zwetschgen, even makes reference to topping it off with whipped cream, which they call "Schlagsahne"... and which we call "Schlag".  So, you win some (syllables), you lose some (syllables).

We made the crust first.
Enough about what it's called, RDB, we want to eat already!  Well, so did we, only I arrived in Seattle in time to eat a last supper and go to temple to hear Kol Nidre and then FAST FOR OVER 24 HOURS.  Because what better time to learn to BAKE a DESSERT?
Then I cut a MILLION plums.
We even hand-made the schlag!
Yeah, bad planning.  Regardless, Becca lived up to her promise and we went grocery shopping for ingredients and I learned how to make the tart, all without tasting a thing.  And when it was finally time to taste it, after break-fast at temple and then a seriously yummy second break-fast at an awesome sushi restaurant in town, it proved well worth the wait. 

Soooo....  (you knew this was coming...)

What do you call a prune-plum tart that complains a lot?


What do you call a prune-plum tart that does yoga?




Monday, September 24, 2012

Lessons Four and Five: Singing and Circles

Lesson Four:  How to Breathe.  Or, more accurately, How to Sing.  Or, most accurately:  How to Breathe For Singing.

(No, it's two, two, TWO LESSONS IN ONE.)

We spent Saturday in San Francisco, beginning with an unbelievably ridiculously wonderfully delicious brunch at Wise Sons Deli, half-created and managed by Evan Bloom of Camp Alonim fame.  Which is to say:  this is my friend's restaurant and it's damn good, so you MUST go there when you are next nearby.

A&R in the Fish Viewing Room
We walked around, we visited the pirate ship at 826 Valencia (I was mopped! Why? Why me?), and we went to the Park and made beautiful music together.  Which is to say:  we took turns playing the ukulele, the harmonica, and the flute (recorder?)  that I bought at the pirate ship.

Rebecca gave me a lesson in breathing for singing.  And I gave her a lesson in tap dancing, sort of.  And we danced and sang and the passersby were truly entranced.  ...That we weren't too embarrassed to be doing those sorts of things in public.

On Sunday I hit the road and on Monday I arrived at a friend's house in Bend, Oregon.  She took the crochetting skills I learned from Dani and taught me (TES Lesson Five) how to crochet in a CIRCLE, so I can make the kippot I want to make.  Check out my progress!

Her son, age 11, showed me a coin trick.  And being in the Pacific Northwest, I ate salmon and marionberry (DC mayor, anyone?), as required by law.

Next stop:  Seattle!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scenes from the Road, Or; RDB gets a little crazy with the Instagram

Spent a quiet lunchtime in Dunsmuir, CA.  Ate the most amazing eggplant sandwich with, what was it, tomato jelly and tamarind glaze?  SO GOOD.  Thank you, Dogwood Diner!

Mount Shasta
Oh yes, a town called YOLO

 This terrific sign is posted all over at a rest stop.  You park, you pee, you go check out what everyone is looking at over by that little wall...

...and you found out that the answer is OH A 300-FOOT CLIFF.  Now you understand.  Dog, get back in the vehicle.

Where are you now, RDB?

Oh, I'm in a...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Teach Erica Something Lessons Two and Three

Man, I love Berkeley.  I'm definitely going there in my next life.

This road trip, number 1 of 3, is off to an amazingly wonderful start.  Great times with good friends and excellent lessons!  Teach Erica Something Lesson Two was how to play the very nerdy game Dominion.  I failed kind of disastrously at my first game, but I still learned how to play, so it counts, and any game in which I can say the sentence "I'm going to Throne Room my Festival to buy a Province" and have it make actual sense is a win in my book.

Plus, I had drank a Whole Entire Beer by time the game was halfway through and for me, that's A LOT.  That's like, RDB's Totally Sloshed (cheap date, anyone?), so I am willing to cut myself a little slack.  Lesson Two was immediately followed by Lesson Three: how to play the ukulele.  The ukulele!!  I learned four chords and one strum pattern, and apparently I can play about half of North America's popular music with just that.

So fantastic.  And that whole day began with an extremely exhilarating ride on a friend's motorcycle.  We ride for a little bit and he says to me, "Isn't it nice to remember you have adrenaline?"


Thursday, September 20, 2012

the Teach Erica Something World Tour begins! Lesson One.

So, I've been pretty excited about spending much of the year traveling and visiting friends, but it's clear that without some larger purpose, I feel enough guilt about "just" doing that to impede my actually enjoying just doing that.  I can couch-surf across America for 8 months, but apparently only if at the end I write a book called Couch-Surfing Across America or something.

Probably I will end up working a significant portion of January to June (more on that plan later), so now I am really just "just" traveling for a few months, something like now (September) to December (until Winter Camp at the very latest).  I set out from Los Angeles last week and headed straight up to Berkeley to stay with two wonderful friends (Aloni and Rebecca) and see as many others in the Bay Area as I could.  Just before I left, however, I had quite a bit of time at home without a whole lot to do, something that has basically never happened in my life before, ever.  I am one of those people who is utterly behind on everything, all the time, and claims, "I've just been crazy busy lately," to which everyone who knows me replies, "It's not 'lately'; you are always crazy busy."  During that down time, I did a few very Erica-like things, like reading Roots by Alex Haley (LOVED it) and a few very UN-Erica-like things, like watch a bunch of TV.  It turns out that I cannot sit still during TV shows, maybe because I got out of the habit of watching them (it's been a while) or maybe it's that YOU ARE LAZY AND UNPRODUCTIVE voice again, or who knows what, but I pretty much always need to also Do Something Else while I watch TV.  I decided I really want to learn to knit or crochet or something, so I can do it while I watch television and finally both enjoy being a couch potato and feel productive at the same time.  When I found out that one of the friends in the Bay Area that I wanted to visit was willing to teach me to crochet, a Project was born.

It's a small project, but it's something.

It's the TEACH ERICA SOMETHING World Tour.  I got up to Berkeley and had a very fun time and lots of ice cream with RBP and AJC.  I saw a ridiculous movie, I went to an Israeli dance led by Aaron Alpert where I got to introduce myself to (and take a picture with) NOBEL PRIZE WINNING ASTROPHYSICIST SAUL PERLMUTTER.  The next day, I drove down to Santa Cruz and learned to crochet.

I learned to crochet!  See?  Those are Dani's hands on the left, looking professional.  That is my first practice attempt on the right, looking not at all professional.  But, you know, it's LEARNING.

It feels so good to be on the road.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moving On. And Up. And Over. And Down. Then Back Again.

Chapter Zero:  the last 12 months, summarized.

Well, if you know me well (and as far as I can tell, almost all followers of this blog do), then you know I've had quite a whirlwind year.  Exactly a year ago, I got engaged to a wonderful Italian man.  We had some lovely times both in California and in Italy.  We spent New Year's Eve in Venice - a romantic dream.  In February I spent three weeks in Israel chaperoning 50 high school students, in May and June I spent a couple of weeks in Brazil teaching Israeli dance and falling in love with that country, and in April I was in Italy again.  It was pretty magical (and exhausting).  In June I went back to camp for my 9th summer there (oh man).  In August, we called off our wedding and a little while later, broke up for good.

Chapter One:  the panic of What Now.

The plan had been that we would get married in California in mid-October and then live in Italy until next June, when we moved back to the States in time for Summer #10.  I took a one-year leave of absence from my school job and arranged to be away for about eight months.  And then... now..  ohmigod.

So:  funemployed?  On the one hand, it's an amazing gift to end up with an 8-month unplanned break from work in the middle of my working life.  On the other hand, it's for a sad reason and I'm sad.  But hand #1 - oh, there are so many amazing things I can do with this time!  Hand #2 - none are planned, it's too late to do many of them (spend a year teaching English in China, say), and OH THE GUILT.  Also, OH THE PRESSURE TO NOT SQUANDER THE TIME.  OH THE VOICE THAT IS WORRIED ABOUT WASTING TIME, ABOUT BEING LAZY, ABOUT BEING IRRESPONSIBLE.  This is a loud voice.

White whine?  First-world problem?  ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY.  No argument there.

Chapter Two:  GTFO.

So what to do with this time?  I decided first that I wanted to use some of it to travel and visit friends and spend some quality time with people I love and people who remind me of who I am and want to be.  I often go to the East Coast on trips of the I'm-here-for-48-hours-and-I-have-48-people-to-see variety, and that's not so fulfilling.  Now I have some real time, so I'm planning to go and spend weeks in each of the places I usually have only hours.  If you're a friend on the East Coast with whom I haven't yet made plans, get in touch and expect to see me sometime between late October and mid-December!

I don't have much money and I'm not working and OH THE GUILT OF NOT WORKING, so I can't fly all over.  The plan now is to drive someone's car cross-country, visiting whomever I know in middle America (both of them), and then to drive up and down the East Coast in someone else's car.  If you know anyone who has a car they'd be willing to lend (or rent) me for a week or more, or if you know anyone who has a car they need driven from basically any Point A to any Point B, let me know!

Those will be Road Trips #2 and #3.  First, though, is Road Trip #1, up and down the West Coast, in my own car, alone.  And we have come now to the birth of the Teach Erica Something World Tour.

Stay tuned (and wish me luck)!