There (and over there) and back again

I have been traveling (and not blogging) a lot lately.  In the past three weeks, I don’t think I spent more than 4 days in any given place.  First was the visit to Orlando, which I’ve already shared with you.  Then there was a brief stint back in Minneapolis  (mostly to check in on Puck and Kudzu), which lasted all of about 12 hours before I was back at the airport.  Then it was off to Durham, NC to spend a few days working on experiments those fickle reviewers like to ask for – and of course to see near and dear friends.  Next was a couple of days in Minneapolis and an attempt to get some work done, but mainly consisted of more edits and resubmission of the manuscript.  And then I was back on a plane, heading south to Gainesville again, to celebrate an anniversary.  Finally, I am back in Minneapolis and have no plans to get on an airplane again until Thanksgiving.  My mentor, and my cats, are thankful that my traveling days are behind me.

But let me share some highlights of the past couple of weeks.

First, Duke and Durham.

Working in a lab where it is not forbidden to drink coffee or have an afternoon treat.  Not to mention, a place where you know everybody’s name (and the people you don’t know – know your name), you know where everything is and how to do everything – and the data speaks for itself.  Man, I miss knowing what I am doing.

A dinner, or two, at The Federal.  I don’t even know what else to say about this – anyone who has eaten at The Federal understands what I am talking about . Those who haven’t been has fortunate – if you ever find yourself in Durham, North Carolina – get yourself to The Federal and order anything from the Daily Specials menu, especially if it has anything to do with pork.  The fates were smiling upon me during my visit and pork belly was on the menu (and a steal for only $8).  I had nearly licked the plate clean before I thought to take a photo.

And savoring quiet moments in a cozy home, discussing things monumentous and trivial, as good friends are inclined to do over a cup of coffee.  It did my heart good.  The list goes on and on: wine bar, trivia at The Joyce and backyard BBQ’s.

Now on to this past weekend in Gainesville.

I may have gone into domestic overdrive.  Boxes (from over a month ago) unpacked, broken down and put away.  Furniture arranged.  Photos hung on the wall.  Loads (and loads) of laundry.  I think the place now feels more like somebody lives there, rather than somebody just moved there.  I do admit to indulging in some fantasies about painting the walls…but managed to restrain myself.  I even made it to one of Professor Scott’s math lectures.  But it wasn’t all work.  There was lazy weekend mornings, complete with blueberry pancakes (alas, no syrup…the kitchen isn’t completely stocked yet) and cuddles on the couch.

There may have been a number of sporting events on the TV, but an equal amount of Food Network viewing.  I may have even fallen asleep watching Mad Men – which has nothing to do with the show (which I adore) but speaks to how relaxed I was.  A fancy anniversary dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in Gainesville – which sadly isn’t saying much.  At least the company, if not the food, was good.  I think that the food scene in Gainesville is trying really hard to sound delicious and be community minded, with local, organic foods – but isn’t doing much to actually taste delicious.  It’s not all bad.  There is some decent BBQ at Adam’s Rib Company – but I think they key is that they aren’t trying to be pretentious and ultra foodie. (I mean, how can you be when you serve a plate of cream and brown food?)  But it’s tasty.  And it works.

We even got the screened-in porch in order.  A good place for a shared dessert, a game or two and even some work.  If only it weren’t so hot outside…

Now I am back in Minneapolis and there are things that are only here that I appreciate after spending time away.  A decent bowl of grilled pork vermicelli noodle salad (I am realizing I may have a serious pork addiction).  Crisp, cool mornings and bright afternoons.  And snuggles with the cats, who are justifiably attention-starved.


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