Saturday, December 31, 2005

Post-Christmas at Chez Trailhead

Whaddaya know, here we are back home after a week gone. TK has discovered that his remote- controlled motorcycle is an excellent way to terrorize the Trailhead Dogs (thank you, Bloggerdad). We were going to leave for Montana this morning, but a quick check of the family kitty revealed that we had spent the farm to go back to Indy, and should probably retrieve the Trailhead Dogs from the kennel forthwith, or we might not be able to get them out of hock at all. Oops. So, no Montana for us.

Air travel yesterday was more annoying than usual. TS found himself on the random and mysterious special-enhanced-double-secret-probation-security list, which added a bit of a delay. While we were waiting to check in, I suffered my own little humiliation involving a bad left ankle that, thanks to two sprains in one month a couple of years ago, sometimes gives out for no apparent reason. While standing in line, I made the mistake of expecting that ankle to actually bear my weight, and promptly did a face plant in front of the hordes of holiday travelers. I landed on a sharp part of TK's car seat buckles, and now have a lovely black and blue pattern on my upper thigh.

Then we were delayed getting out of Indy to our Chicago connection. This, along with the fact that our luggage missed the connection that we made by running balls out through O'Hare, got us home at the decidedly unpleasant hour of 2 a.m. Pacific Time. This was all the more unpleasant since we had adjusted to Indianapolis time, and so it felt like 5 a.m.

But you know, it was a good trip. We played many games of euchre, saw cherished friends, and ate like Hoosiers. And now we are home, enjoying our many wonderful Christmas gifts, and about to spend New Year's Eve with some of our oldest and most intimate pals. All things considered, I can't think of a more auspicious start to 2006.

See you next year, everyone.

The Essential Guide to Living Well in Indianapolis, Or, Trailhead's Hometown Favorites

This post is about Indianapolis. I left my native city for the upper left-hand corner of the country a little over a year ago. Exploring a new place is fun, but inside information is good. Though India-no-place is perhaps not everyone’s destination of choice, it abuts one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S. (Hamilton County, sigh.) There are, in fact, people moving to Indianapolis, and not just away. So, to all those who have googled themselves onto this page, my intent is to provide you some of the information I would want if I were moving into a new area. And I mean that quite literally – this post is about my favorite places in the city, and may therefore bear little relation to what you are interested in. But if luck would have it that we have similar preferences, read on.

I moved away from the city in 1993, and went south to Florida, and then to North Carolina. I returned in the late 90’s to take a job as a newly minted litigator at a large Indiana law firm. I left again in the fall of 2004 for the Pacific Northwest. I’ve found some jewels in my new home – a French Provincial restaurant here, a riverfront seafood place there, and a Chinese garden with a teahouse just over yonder. But a holiday visit to Indianapolis reminded me of all the places I enjoy there. And so, this post is born. There is very little here on the east or south sides, because I never spent much time there. Most of the places I include here are north, west, or central.

I ask my Hoosier readers – acquainted or new – to include their favorites in the comments section if they are not present in my post. A caveat: please avoid chain stores and restaurants. (Any new resident of the city can do an internet search to find out where the Outback Steakhouse is, God help them.) I will probably update this post as places I’ve forgotten about occur to me or I pull up suggestions from the comments section. Where I’ve not been able to include links, I try to provide an address. If there’s a link, check it out for locations or directions.

I think it goes without saying that this post is solely about my favorite spots, I make no representations about what your experience will be like at any of these places, and I’m not affiliated with any of them in any way.

Restaurants, Multiple Locations:

Bazbeaux, Broad Ripple and Mass Ave (downtown): Gourmet pizza. Their vegetarian pizzas are deeply satisfying. Though I don’t know if they still offer this service, I was once able to order pizza dough to go. We did this for parties occasionally. They have a good whole wheat crust, too.

Yats: Cajun-creole food. As my father-in-law would say, it’s so good it’ll make your tongue beat your brains out for more. The succotash sends me into paroxysms of orgasmic joy. There are always at least a couple of vegetarian options on the daily menu. As of my last visit (12/2005), they didn’t accept credit cards, so have cash.

Puccini’s Smiling Teeth: Clearwater (Keystone), Geist, North Willow. Good Italian food. Puccini’s also has a hearty dinner salad – a rarity anywhere – with always fresh greens, bell pepper, tomatoes, black olives, onions and shredded mozzarella cheese.

CafĂ© Patachou: One of my favorite breakfasts. It’s usually a long wait if you sleep in, but there’s coffee available at the counter while you’re waiting to be seated. I like the granola, but my most frequent dining companions love the omelettes of the day.

Shapiro’s: An authentic delicatessen. I’ve been going to Shapiro’s since I was knee high to a grasshopper (this was a Bloggerdad favorite too). I used to love the German Potato Salad and the sandwiches. Even though I’m vegetarian now, I can still find things to eat here. And their desserts are stellar.

Le Peep: A reliable breakfast favorite, Le Peep could be called a chain restaurant, but it’s not ubiquitous enough to be excluded here. Their granola-crusted French toast is shockingly, wonderfully decadent. But just plain eggs and peasant potatoes are worth a trip as well.

Restaurants, Broad Ripple area and surrounding environs:

Mama Carolla’s Old Italian, 1031 E. 54th Street: Great Italian in a vintage house. Long waits, so go early.

Shalimar: Indian food. Their biryanis rock.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub, 840 E. 56th: The Brew Pub has a lot of vegetarian options, including an awesome vegetarian sloppy joe. Though I’m not a beer fan myself, my beer-loving companions advise me that there are plenty of good selections here.

Restaurants, Northside:

Salvatore’s, 1268 W. 86th Street: Good Italian.

Chang Fu, 3905 W. 96th Street, #400: Small Chinese place in a strip mall north of I-465 off Michigan Road. Great lo mein and vegetarian egg rolls.

Hollyhock Hill: Downhome Midwestern comfort food in an older house off Meridian Street, served family style.

Restaurants, Downtown:

India Garden, 143 N. Illinois Street: India Garden has a reasonably-priced lunch buffet every day. The buffet was running about $7 at my last visit. The nav rattan curry is delish. (I believe there is also a Broad Ripple location, but I’ve never eaten there.)

Elbow Room Pub & Deli, 605 N. Pennsylvania Street: The veggie burritos are tasty and substantial, and the atmosphere cozy.

Ameer, 222 E. Market Street (in the City Market): Tasty middle-eastern food. The green beans, cauliflower and potatoes over jasmine rice is my favorite.

McNiven’s, 339 Massachusetts Avenue: Scottish-American restaurant, owned and operated by my sister’s ex-boyfriend. Want real haggis? Go here. They also have standard American fare for the faint-hearted. See the Citysearch entry for McNiven’s here.

Bertolini’s Authentic Trattoria: Circle Center Mall. Back when I worked for the firm and it was part of my job to squire prospective associates on interview lunches, this was one of my favorite spots. Good Italian food, and the atmosphere is uppity enough for business lunches. Try the rosemary flatbread.

Dunaway’s: I made a bet once with my supervising partner at the firm. Winner had to take the other – and our secretary and paralegal – to lunch at Dunaway’s. I won. And am I ever glad I did. The food here is fantastic.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room: I don’t consider this a chain restaurant, even though it has locations in a few other cities. The seafood here is expensive, fresh and impeccably prepared. The crab cakes are sublime. I don’t have the words. Just go.

Stars Sandwich Market, 116 N. Delaware Street: Many different kinds of sandwiches, all made daily and very good. I like the asian noodle salad, too.

South Bend Chocolate Company, on the circle: This isn’t really a restaurant. But on a blustery, ugly winter day, stop in for a hot chocolate. Oh. My. God. These people know how to do hot chocolate. It’s as thick and creamy as you can get without just drinking pure melted chocolate.

Miscellaneous Establishments I enjoyed or found useful:

Deb’s Produce, 2030 E. 52nd Street: This is a seasonal produce market, and one of my favorite places in Indy. No sooner do you walk under the tent covering than one of the employees is slicing off a piece of fresh cantaloupe, or carving up a pear and feeding you the slices. When I was pregnant, I developed a relentless craving for fresh fruit. I could blow $50 a week at Deb’s, especially on hot days.

Once Upon a Child: There are several of these stores in Indy, all of which buy and sell gently used children’s clothing and toys. A great resource.

Rusted Moon Outfitters: A local outfitter and good alternative to big box outdoor stores, Rusted Moon is located in Broad Ripple, right off the Monon Trail.

Good Earth Natural Food Co.: If it’s natural, vegetarian, or otherwise ethical, it’s here.

Global Gifts, 1468 W. 86th St.: Volunteer-run store featuring fair trade items from artisans around the world. Read the Indianapolis greenmap project entry here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Brief Holiday Sabbatical, and Google of the Week

We're leaving at the crack tomorrow to go back to Indy for Christmas. I still have the last bits of packing to do. This is a grim state of affairs, considering midnight is approaching rapidly.

I will leave you with this last morsel: yesterday, someone in Italy landed here at Trailheadcase after googling the words, "kidnapped bound gagged need to crap."

I will avoid, for now, pondering in any detail what that says about the quality of my blog.

Happy Holidays everyone!* See you next week!

*Except you, Bill O'Reilly. You can fuck off.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Woohooooo! A New Meme!

For a number of reasons, I've been out of the blogworld for several days, but Rose has managed to draw me back in with one of blogging's most delightful guilty pleasures, the meme. So here it goes:

What were you doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago I had just finished law school finals and graded onto law review by scoring in the top 5% of my section. (Yep, today is the today for shameless self-promotion, dammit.) Alas, TS had just received his first master's degree, and we had about three dollars in the bank account. So when he received a job offer in North Carolina shortly before Christmas, we knew we should probably take it. I made a huge leap of faith, took a semester off law school, moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina in January, and transferred to Duke University School of Law the following August.

What were you doing one year ago?

Preparing to head back to Indy to move all of our stuff out to Oregon and get the house ready to sell. We had moved to Oregon after TS got his MBA and a job out here. You know, I'm sensing a theme here.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1. Trader Joe's spicy flaxseed corn/soy tortilla chips. Yum.
2. Starbucks coffee almond fudge ice cream.
3. Anything sweet and/or loaded with carbohydrates. I'm hopeless.
4. Hot chocolate from the South Bend Chocolate Company.
5. My signature trail mix: assorted nuts, raisins, dried cranberries and a couple handfuls of Cracklin' Oat Bran.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

This question doesn't really work for me. The same freakishly strange memory that lets me remember twenty year old conversations verbatim also allows me to know the lyrics of pretty much any song I've listened to multiple times. Yes, this is creepy and bugs most people I'm close to. Especially my husband, who can't remember what he had for lunch two days ago.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1. Pay the goddamn sun to come out occasionally during the winter here.
2. Purchase off-the-grid crash-pads in strategic locations: Montana, Indy, Georgia, and the Florida Keys.
3. Eat at Waffle House once a week and leave $100 tips.
4. Spend a lot of time making sure my son doesn't develop the obnoxious sense of entitlement that seems to afflict so many rich kids.
5. Be broke again within five years.

Five bad habits:

1. Like Rose, I am a cuticle mutilator.
2. Staying up too late.
3. Not finishing things I start.

Five things I like doing:

1. Cuddling up with my kid to read, or watch Thomas the Tank Engine.
2. Anything with my husband except paying bills.
3. Nature photography and its attendant traveling. (Well, duh. Did the image blog clue you in?)
4. Having dinner parties.
5. Being outside.

Five things you would never wear or buy again:

1. Parachute pants, of course.
2. A pillow-top mattress. Awful things, they are.
3. An electric stove.
4. Any kind of tube top (cut me a break, willya? I was six.)
5. A Michael Jackson album (I wasn't six, but I wasn't old enough to know better, either.)

Five favorite toys:

1. TK's trains
2. Our new fondue pot
3. My birthday kayak
4. The backcountry skis Bloggerdad got me for Christmas last year.
5. My Bladerunner. :)

Five people I want to do this:

1. Tony
2. Tony
3. Tony
4. Tony
5. Brace yourself....insert drum roll here...Wasteland Fan! It's Christmas vacation! The semester is over! Take a sabbatical from the sabbatical! Throw a bone to the great unwashed masses who love your work!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

For the Record

May I just state that Andy Serkis is a freaking genius. I have always regarded with disgust the inexcusable omission of Mr. Serkis from the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of Gollum. Though I haven't seen King Kong yet, I do hope they don't futz that up again this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


There is snow. It's kind of a blowy snow, and threatens at any moment to turn back into the freezing rain from which it sprung, but it's still snow. And it looks lovely against the enormous evergreen in my front yard.

For some reason, TK thinks the arrival of snow means that he may open his Christmas gifts. I hated to disabuse him of that pleasant notion, even though it's likely he just pulled that idea straight from his ass in the hope that we might buy it.

Last night found us freezing our tails off at ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo with our friends the A's and their daughters, the Double A's. I took a single snap from my digital point-and-shoot, because my fingers were too cold and spent most of the night stuffed in my pockets. (Papa A did a much better job, and whined less about it, too.)

This is the train we rode. TK was quite pumped up about that, as we recently saw the movie The Polar Express. He insisted that we were headed to the North Pole, despite all evidence that we were merely circumnavigating the Oregon Zoo. But hey, who am I to argue? And no, I don't know those people. They just happened to be between me and my subject.

Friday, December 16, 2005

JibJab to the Rescue

I intend to read Kinsley's latest as Bloggerdad suggests, but I'm not sure the esteemed Bloggerdad understands what the point of my last post was -- a certain mental used-up-edness that precludes the tackling of a weighty subject. Though there are some in our great land who don't consider torture a "weighty subject," I am not among them.

Or perhaps he was just being ironic. It wouldn't be the first time.

So, thank heavens for JibJab, as they have the perfect remedy for my malaise. Their year-end roundup video is here!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

We Have No Bananas Today

I have had some interesting thoughts on a number of different issues this week, but none of them ever coalesced into a post. The execution of Tookie Williams and the discussion surrounding that event reminded me of what it’s like to get to know a death row inmate. I might get to that yet, but it won’t be today.

I also read an excellent post by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon on tokenism. This insightful piece partially alleviated my continuing bafflement that the only real hostility I ever felt as a woman working at a large law firm was from female partners. And perhaps that will make it into a post yet as well.

It’s entirely possible that I need a good long walk in the woods, or to finish painting my bathroom, in order to allow these thoughts to develop. But I don’t think that will happen today.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekly Photo Muse

This week's topic is up at Weekly Photo Muse. It's "handmade." Give it a shot.

Don't Drink Out of the Toilet Gene Pool

Researchers have finished mapping the genome of the domestic dog, and it appears we share "a core set of DNA."

How reassuring.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Itsy Bitsy Pyro

Tonight, as I prepare TK for bed:

TK: I want to sing a song.
Me: Which one?
TK: The Fire Song.
Me: I don't know that one. How does it go?
TK: It goes like this: The itsy bitsy fire--
Me: Do you mean "the itsy bitsy spider?"
TK: NO! It's the itsy bitsy fire!
The itsy bitsy fire
went up the water 'pout
down came the rain and
washed the fire out
out came the sun and
dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy fire
went up the 'pout again.

I sure never heard it that way when I was a kid.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Annoying Christmas Question of the Day

It's like an Advent calendar, only we're starting late. One annoying Christmas question per day till Christmas.

Which is your favorite version of "Up on the Housetop"?

For my money, it's Jimmy Buffett's surfer dude version, hands down.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

For the Christmas List

You know those conservative relatives that populate the intellectual outskirts of your family? I bet everyone has at least one or two of them, and being conservative and "pro-family," they no doubt have children. So what do you get their kids for Christmas?* Of course, there's always the Republicans Make Me Cry onesie, or the Mommy Wants a New President toddler tee, but you figure hell, it's Christmas, why be deliberately offensive? Maybe you should just stick with toys. But what to buy the baby wingnuts on your Christmas list?

Never fear. Baby Bush Toys understands your dilemma. Baby Bush is at the ready with "an exciting range of products for the resoundingly average child." Here are only a few of the toys Baby Bush offers:

Or, if you're buying for a wee tot, there's this:

See the full selection of Baby Bush Toys here.

Via Shakespeare's Sister.

*In full compliance with the pro-Christmas message.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Online Rubbernecking

This site is riveting.

Each post consists of satellite images of "the worst places in the world."

From the site's "about" section:

Sprol shows the visual macroscopic effects of the decisions and behavior of our society.

Since previous generations have not had the advantage of this perspective it is our obligation to use it wisely.
Go take a look.


I have updated the links section to the right, so go sniff around on some of the newly added sites. There's some good stuff.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Like Minds

I'm frequently amazed how like minded people find one another through blogs. Jeannie of Put it in Writing found and linked Trailhead Images, and her site is a treat. The view from her deck alone is worth a trip over, and her post on new grandparenthood is lovely.

Calling All Image Junkies

This is a great site. Each week brings a new photo idea. Photographers are asked to shoot images based on the idea, and post links in the comments section. I cheated a bit, in that I linked to a post I had already done over at Trailhead Images that seemed to fit with the theme.

I heartily encourage my blogger friends to try it, especially since many of you seem to be prolific shutterbugs.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

One Last China Pic

Forgotten in his camera till now: Proof that TS's trip was really just one long episode of Fear Factor.

Whether Report

So we're supposed to get a goodly amount of snow here in the Willamette Valley. I certainly hope so, anyway; because then I shall be able to play the Charlie Brown Christmas CD and thoroughly enjoy myself as I watch the snow fall.

But these things have a way of disappointing, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to be watching the old standby -- rain -- from my window instead of the delicate dance of fat snowflakes.

Time-Waster of the Day

From my periodic perusal of Strange New Products (thank you Rose), here are my current favorites:

The Naughty Nads Bikini Design Kit: First of all, who could possibly resist the name? And I'm sorry, but anything designed to turn your pubes into a lightning bolt is irresistible.

The Wovel: A funky looking snow removal thingie designed to go easy on the back. My favorite part of this is the comment asking why someone wouldn't just buy a blowtorch. This cracked me up because, before I even read the comment, I was reminded of an old neighbor of Trailhead Brother II, who actually used a blowtorch on his icy driveway.


Today is World AIDS Day. The word from the World AIDS Campaign is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise."