When the relatives came

I played tourist in my own city over the weekend, hosting relatives from Iowa and Texas. I did not host them in the sense of “all seven people stayed in our one bedroom apartment” (clearly, that would have been a bad idea) but rather as a tour guide and minivan driver extraordinaire. We started the weekend whirlwind on Friday with lunch at Bixby’s inside the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

Bixby’s is the relatively new face of the history museum restaurant (the previous incarnation, whatever it was called, left me less than impressed).  With the focus on using local ingredients, Bixby’s hit the spot.  I ordered the vegetable and sausage panini with sausage on the side (for my grandpa).  My uncle ordered the vegetable and sausage panini “all together.”

The day continued with the grand garden tour, complete with samples of sun gold tomatoes. Later, we gathered around the hotel pool and feasted on Pi.  Thanks to my mom’s picnic set, our poolside dinner was largely trash free!

After dinner, fun and games ensued, with the kind of hilarity unique to large family gatherings, when we played an improvised version of the game Balderdash with obscure words from the internet.  We discovered many classic words over the course of the game:

  • dasypygal (def. Having hairy buttocks — yes, that was the real definition) which someone defined as, “What you say when you see a woman win a pie-eating contest — ‘Das a pie gal!'”
  • de aequitate: what happens when you really have to go to the bathroom but don’t make it there on time (not the real definition)
  • and many others that I’m sad to say I can’t remember right now

Saturday, we hit up the Soulard Zoo (AKA Soulard Farmers’ Market), which was every bit the seething mass of humanity I remembered (cringe).  Don’t get me wrong, the produce bargains I found there during grad school provided plenty of fruit and vegetable servings on a tight budget, but my tastes have changed a bit, or perhaps a lot more than a bit, in the direction of local, organically raised foods.

With so many farmers’ markets with just that focus, Soulard no longer does it for me.  Farmers’ markets should have FARMERS, not vendors who scour Produce Row for bargains on food from “49 states and 74 countries” (as stated in this RFT article); Soulard’s few local farmers are vastly outnumbered by such vendors.

We left Soulard and headed to Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, which revived my spirits greatly — a literal AND figurative breath of fresh air.  We returned to the apartment, where we lunched on sandwiches featuring many local ingredients.  The rest of the day included a trip to Home Eco and a lovely dinner at Local Harvest, where my uncle requested the vegan enchiladas “with ground beef in them, please.”  I can’t take him anywhere 😉  My thanks to both establishments for graciously accommodating our boisterous invasion.

Thanks everyone for making the trip!

Bowood Farms and Cafe Osage

Last night we headed to Bowood Farms/Cafe Osage in the CWE for Green Drinks!  We drove our bicycles, despite the heat — keeping it green and all.  I enjoyed touring Bowood’s garden and learning about their history, and I chatted with some lovely people.  We toured their organic garden, where they grow some of the produce served at Cafe Osage (sadly, the lack of a dinner menu thwarted our eating plans — we’ll have to go back for lunch sometime).

Drinks in the garden at Bowood

We often skip the “drinks” aspect of Green Drinks altogether, one part frugality, one part, we just don’t drink that much.  Tonight, we broke out of the mold and ordered a blueberry martini to share.  Delicious, but at $9 + tip, I’m reminded why we don’t do this all the time!

I enjoyed the ride home at dusk, although the weather makes me wish that the World Naked Bike Ride (if you don’t want to see naked people, don’t follow the link) happened every night.  If you’re feeling shy, you can go here, for a tamer, text only description of the St. Louis WNBR.  We missed the St. Louis WNBR this past Saturday, but next year?  Be there or be square 😉

Hibernating

Are there any animals that hibernate in summer?  If so, I want to be one of them — crawl into a dark, cool cave and not emerge until the temperature returns to somewhat sane levels (i.e., below 80-degrees).

On Friday night, we biked over to Local Harvest Cafe for dinner.  We shared their vegan Green Plate special and a bowl of chilled borscht.  Borscht is basically beet soup, which sounds weird (at least I’ve always thought so and never tried it before), but this soup was amazing!  Mmm, I could eat bowls and bowls!

After dinner, we hit up Tower Grove Park.  I morphed into a little park creature (i.e., put on my Five Fingers), and we played frisbee for awhile.  Before calling it a night, we visited our community garden bed and harvested some beets, carrots, and rutabaga.  Some of those beets are destined to become borscht!

From the time we returned home Friday night, until my 6:15am run this morning, I entered hibernation mode.  I didn’t leave the apartment, other than short jaunts to water the plants on the porch, for over forty-eight hours.  What can I say — I took the heat advisory seriously, but all good things must come to an end.

Happy summer solstice!  (But, Weather, I really don’t need 100-degree heat to convince me it’s summer.  I believe you, okay?  Can you just back off a little now?  Please???)

Attitude shift

Deconstructed pie

After I wrote the previous post, I did a lot of thinking along the lines of, “Who am I to complain?”

For two hours of my morning, and the expected price tag, a competent auto body specialist fixed the window problem, and I moved on with my day.

I returned home and put together a lovely lunch of leftovers, then combined my feet and MetroBus to get to City Greens Farmer’s Market.  Biking in full half-past-noon sun in the 103-degree heat index lacked appeal.

With the walk/bus option, I can either use a sun hat or my sunbrella to avoid sunscreen. Around here, many people are happy to use light rail (MetroLink), but either have tons of excuses for not using the bus, or seem to never consider it, which is a shame.  Metro upgraded their website and the trip planning feature now links to Google Transit — pretty user friendly.

While I was out and about, I encountered a few things that put my “problems” into perspective, and reminded me to be thankful.  Although I don’t practice it daily, I like No Impact Man’s idea of making a gratitude list.  Here’s mine for today:

  1. Circus Flora (St. Louis’ own one-ring circus) — we went last night.  The artists display such an amazing combination of athleticism, grace, strength, and beauty.  I love watching bodies in motion.
  2. My legs that carry me when I walk or bicycle for transportation.
  3. My family.
  4. Local farmers who work hard (for not much profit).
  5. Homegrown blackberries, featured in deconstructed pie 🙂

Open Streets in the heat

Yesterday, I was on my bike for almost five-and-a-half hours, volunteering for Open Streets in St. Louis. Five-and-a-half scorching, 100-plus-degree heat index hours.  It sounded like a good idea when I signed up in April.  Get up at 6am after a late night at Opera Theatre and spend lots of hours out in the sun?  Fabulous idea.

All complaining aside, I enjoyed the opportunity to experience, and help with, Open Streets 2.0 — a great day for bicycling (and walking, jogging, rollerblading, etc.) in St. Louis.

Headed home, a stopped train delayed our trip and increased our time in the elements.  By that point, I had thrown caution (and sun safety) to the wind and removed my t-shirt to prevent death by extreme heat.  Fortunately, we found a shady spot to wait it out.  Eventually, the train passed, and I mustered enough energy to climb the hill and roll on home.  I spent the rest of the day recovering.  Lots of fluids, a shower to scrub off all of the icky sunscreen, some high-quality food (the fact that we made lunch serves as either a testament to our commitment to good food or to our insanity (perhaps heat-induced?)), and a nap — just what the doctor ordered 🙂

The  next two Open Streets events will take place in September and October.  While I hope that the temperatures will be a bit friendlier then, I’ve learned not to bet against St. Louis weather.