I’m back from Madison, and we have a place to live in the fall! Yay!

In my last post, I mentioned that we were trying to get this place that smelled like garbage and had a urinal in the bathroom. Well, we got it!

It’s much nicer than that post made it sound. It’s a two-bedroom plus den, one-bath flat on the second floor of a freestanding house in a quiet residential neighborhood. The kitchen has a dishwasher and garbage disposal, and there’s a breakfast bar dividing it from the living room. There are a free washer and dryer in the unit (a lot of places either didn’t have any or only had coin-op ones). There’s a private balcony and we can also use the front porch we share with the downstairs neighbors, though apparently they have two porches of their own, so it’s not likely they’ll be using the shared one. There’s some kind of yard (though all the places kind of blurred together after a while, so all I remember about it is that there are bike racks in the yard and we don’t have to take care of mowing it.) No garage or private parking space (boo!) but it will encourage us to drive less, and apparently finding parking is only an issue on game days, because we’re only a few blocks from the football stadium.

There were actually a lot of pretty nice houses, though the situation seemed pretty dire on Day 1 of house hunting. We ended up spending more than we had wanted to originally, but we liked the layout of the place and the natural light, and what swayed us in the end was the location. We’re in the Vilas neighborhood, about a mile and a half south of campus, a few blocks from a cute but somewhat high-end shopping street (I’ll have a Trader Joe’s in the neighborhood at long last! Hallelujah! I miss that place) and a few blocks from Henry Vilas Park, a gorgeous city park with a lake, ducks, and a zoo with free admission, and the Arboretum, which I’m told has some wonderful bike paths. The neighborhood seems quiet, safe, and peaceful, with beautiful old houses and tree-lined streets. The type of place where walking to run errands would be pleasurable, not a chore.

Oh, and Google Maps tells me I’ll be exactly one mile from a yarn shop.

I’d had my eye on a more bohemian part of town, Willy Street, but we didn’t like the houses we saw there as much, the top contender in that area being a strange, twisty little three-bedroom on the top floor of a Victorian building with a very small, dark kitchen and no washer and dryer–close to what we wanted, but no cigar.

We went into the leasing office first thing on Saturday to try and get it taken care of. We were well-prepared, with copies of our credit reports and bank statements for them to look over, and I think the leasing agent was so pleasantly surprised that we’d actually brought all the papers she needed that she pushed the application through for us within half an hour. The only disappointment was when Rahul discovered, to his great dismay, that the urinal in the bathroom was merely decorative. But he’ll live. The sacrifices we make!

Oh, actually, one other disappointment was that our lease in Bloomington runs out 6 days before the lease in Madison starts. So we’re going to have to figure out something to do in the interim, most likely load everything up in a U-Haul and stay in a hotel or camp for a week. Rahul suggested staying with his parents, but they live in southern Missouri and it’s a 5-hour drive down there plus another 7.5 hour drive up to Wisconsin, so I’m not really crazy about the idea of doing all that driving with all that stuff in tow. We’ll figure something out, one way or another.

The weather was sunny and gorgeous, so we spent the rest of Saturday biking around. Madison has something called the Red Bikes Project, where you can check out a bike and lock for as long as you like by putting down a deposit. When you return the bike, you get the deposit back. When the manager heard that we only wanted the bikes for a day, he let us take them without filling out paperwork or leaving a deposit. (We brought him a beer to thank him, though it would have been cheaper for us to just fill out the paperwork…)

Because of the red spray-painted wheels, my bike screeched like an ironing board being opened every time I put on the brakes, and there was no way to change gears, but it was serviceable. We went up to the farmer’s market, which was unfortunately just shutting down–I did buy a bottle cap necklace from Emily Kircher, Recycling Artist (etsy shop here, go check out her cute crocheted kitty rugs). I convinced Rahul we should ride our bikes down to Lakeside Fibers, and all was well until about halfway down John Nolen Drive, we heard an alarming POPhissss… Rahul’s tire had blown out. He decided I should go into the yarn shop while he walked his bike back to the Red Bikes Project, so I spent a happy 45 minutes or so browsing. I didn’t buy anything, but I did admire the softness of the Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb. It’s a very large and impressive store, and if you find yourself in Madison, I recommend a visit. Anyone accompanying you who is not interested in yarn can probably be parked happily for a while in the coffee shop next to the giant wall of Cascade 220, where they have coffee, sandwiches, a prime view of Monona Bay, and a Wisconsin birdwatching book and binoculars to keep them amused. Wi-fi, too, I think.

We biked back up around the west side of the bay and went back to State Street, where we wandered for a while, then returned our bikes and had some Glass Nickel pizza for dinner. Missions accomplished: finding a house, visiting a yarn shop (my goal), biking around town, eating some local pizza (Rahul’s goal).

So that’s that. Now, Robynn tagged me for a meme, so here goes:

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Late May 1998: Finishing up my freshman year of college. Right around this time, actually, I think I was probably being broken up with by my then-boyfriend the night before my computer science final. Thanks, dude, good timing. I’m pretty sure I still got an A in the class in the end, though, and we’re still on good terms, though I haven’t talked to him in ages.

Five things on my to-do list for today:

Today’s my day off! After all the craziness of the past week, all I felt like doing was lazing around (feeling a bit guilty, but I think I deserved it), so my goals were small and all but the last one have been accomplished:

  1. Sleep a lot
  2. Watch cryptozoology shows on TV
  3. Make garlic soup (aigo bouido) for dinner
  4. Blog and catch up on emails and commenting
  5. Eat ice cream

Snacks I enjoy

Among other things:

Seaweed, the salted, flavored kind

Cheetos, the original kind with the bright orange cheese coating dense, buttery-tasting crunchy nubbins. None of this air-baked puffy crap.

The Japanese rice crackers coated with salt and sugar. I have no idea what they’re called, but I can pick them out at the Asian market.

The corn nuts they sell in bulk at the co-op. They’re bigger and less salty than the brand-name ones.

Creamy yogurt. Two of my favorite breakfasts used to be: berry or vanilla yogurt with boiled wheatberries stirred in, or plain yogurt drizzled with honey and walnuts freshly toasted in the toaster oven.

Chocolate with sea salt

Apple chips

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Stop working. Take care of my close friends and relatives’ financial concerns and sock away some money of my own. Travel around the world at a leisurely pace–there are lots of places I’d love to see, but I might not make it to any of the more remote ones anytime soon without making lots of money and having lots of time: Antarctica, Easter Island, tropical paradise islands whose names I don’t yet know. Buy a pretty little house where I could grow vegetables, flowers, and an edible forest, keep chickens in the backyard, let everything in the garden run wild. I would fit it with solar panels and set up a composting toilet and graywater collection system. Eat in some fancy restaurants. Donate money to charity, or perhaps I could set up a project of my own. Buy a couple of Bohus sweater kits and a new spinning wheel. (I’m happy to see I don’t really need a billion dollars to achieve most of these goals.)

Places you have lived:
Not a whole lot of places, really. Upstate New York. Various places in the San Francisco Bay Area: Mountain View, Albany, Hercules, Berkeley, and Sunnyvale. Venice, Italy. Bloomington, Indiana.

I’m not tagging anyone for this specifically because I’ve done lots of memes lately and can’t remember who I tagged already. So if you feel like participating, consider yourself tagged and let me know you’re doing the meme. I’ll be interested to read your answers.

As if this mega-post isn’t already long enough, one last thing for you, the recipe I used for aigo bouido, roughly the same as the one from John Thorne’s Serious Pig:

6 cloves garlic, peeled

3 slices whole-grain sandwich bread, torn into crouton-sized pieces

1 Tbsp paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 can petite dice tomatoes in juice

2 cups chicken broth (I used Better’n Bouillon’s fake chicken stock)

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Eggs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Fry the whole garlic cloves in the oil till golden all over. Remove them and fry the bread, a few pieces at a time, in the oil, then place them on a cookie sheet in the oven to crisp and brown further. Top up the oil if needed, then add the paprika, fry for a minute, and add the tomatoes, broth, and dried herbs. While everything is heating up, mince the garlic and add it to the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste, then throw in the bread and stir well so the broth soaks in. Add 1 or 2 eggs to each oven-safe bowl, as desired, pour the soup over the eggs, and place the bowls on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the whites are set. I ended up preferring the soup without the eggs.

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