"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

July 23, 2005

Dashen Through the South Wedge

Our latest culinary adventure was last night, practically in our own backyard: the "South Wedge" of the city isn't particularly popular for its run-down (once immaculate) neighborhoods. Still, among the dusty streets, some of the original homes, built circa 1888, stand proudly well-painted and loved. And here, on the corner of South and Alexander, you'll find one of the only Ethiopian restaurants in the area, Dashen.



If you've never experienced eating with your hands--rather, one hand--before, Ethiopian food is a great introduction. Atop your injera, or spongy, circular bread, are heaped your lentil, lamb, and potato combinations, and normally, the diner receives a gratis basket of injera to begin scooping with.

Dashen's interior wears the Ethiopian colors, red, yellow, and green, proudly, and boasts Ethiopia's beauty with a number of travel posters, local crafts, and flags on its walls.

When Heath asked for the Ethiopian wine he'd read about in a review, our shy waitress gave us a funny look, confirmed that we were interested in the "honey wine," and told us she'd be right back--and returned to say that it "wasn't ready yet," with a telling smirk that suggested the stuff is made on the premises, and probably isn't up to any regulation standards. Too bad for us.

While the regulars at the bar roared at ongoing Seinfeld episodes, soothing African music wafted through the restaurant. Patrons trickled in as the sun fell, and the t.v. at the bar soon got quiet. Dashen was rockin'.

July 19, 2005

Times Square Kiss, Updated



We took this while the Square was cleared out for a film. The stranger who took the photo for us reassured Heath that it really was "a cool idea" (he wasn't hip to it at first). See blog "I Love NY in June" (left archive column) for more about our springtime trip.

July 16, 2005

Life Lessons from the Frog Pond

Charlie's Frog Pond, a quirky, tiny bistro, is two blocks from Heath's apartment; our Sunday morning/afternoon ritual is walking hastily(usually we're starving at that point) to the Frog Pond, eating too much of Betsey's breakfast burrito (or her amazing cinnamon swirl pancakes, or the Greek frittata), rubbing our bellies in gastronomic delight, and looking casually at (the late, local artist) Ramon Santiago's painting called "Love," the focal point of which is a bright yellow star and about which we ponder how the print would look in Heath's place.

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A few weeks ago, while contemplating "Love," an older, gentle-looking fellow sitting next to us, who we came to know as Frank struck up a conversation. Turns out that Frank, too, is an artist-- he pointed out his pencil rendering of the back of the bistro he sketched one winter day called "Hell's Kitchen." (He assured us that it was the only non-Santiago piece in the joint.)

Frank is not only an artist: he and his son started the behemoth art studio known as Artisan Works, in which he lived for a while, and which his son now owns. Frank began as a Merchandising Manager (and window dresser) at McCurdy's department store downtown, and his creative bug prompted him, post-retirement, to let others have a space in which to create.

We talked for a long while about work: Frank had a lot to say. When it came our time to go, Frank signaled that we wait a second. "Do you know what the secret of life is?" he asked, with an enormous grin on his face. Heath and I looked at each other. "It's taking the time to enjoy your life. Make everything count." (I'm sure Heath would have more to add to this, because I was busy soaking this part in.)
Frank assured us we'd see him again, and that next time, he'd tell us more.

We left that morning with our bellies full of good food, our minds full of good advice, and Frank's knowing smirk pressed firmly into our imaginations. We walked a little more slowly on the way home.

July 11, 2005

Mo Got Class

I got a job! I got a job! A real, full-time gig with lovely bennies and super-smart, super-welcoming coworkers! Where, you ask, will I be gracing the youth of Rochester with the juicy, cerebral, soulful delights of Shakespeare, Cisneros, and Angelou?

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Pittsford Central School District has granted me one 9th grade English course at Mendon High School, and four 9th grade and two half-year 12th grade courses (Contemp. Lit. & Humanities) at Sutherland High School.

Mendon is #39 on Newsweek's Top 1000 High Schools in America list. Sutherland is a doozey at #78. (Shucks.)

In the past two weeks, I've already completed a (mandatory) course for Pittsford instructors on effective instruction, met with fellow humanities teachers, and conferenced with my soon-to-be co-teacher. I haven't taught 9th grade in seven years (which means that my old freshman are now in their junior years of college--eek), so I'll have to make a stop in Boston to gather all my old, yellowing notes.

Excited to start a brand new year in a brand new school! Hooray!