Thursday, 29 October 2009

Come On Colombus!

It took one Winnie the Pooh, a Beatrix Potter and four repetitions of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham with decreasing velocities to convince our little fella to relinquish to sleep. That's what you get when you indulge in two hour late afternoon naps I spose. There was no way he could have got through till dinner with the full day we had been having. Yes it has been a full few days for 3 and 33 year olds (let us not forget the old 41 year old too of course) as we have joyfully partaken in a tour of Colombus with our friend Ken Watkins, once pastor of my in laws church back home. A most gentle gentleman to show us around his new home and we have enjoyed discovering his new hometown together. First stop today was the North Market. Anything with "Market" at the end of it always has my purse strings tingling. I had to be educated by Cory on my arrival as I tried to drag him into every "market" I saw. Turns out they can be corner shops to you and I, and, shopper as I am, I draw the line at traipsing around every little shops "soda" shelves or crisp piles, I mean chip piles (though between you, me and the street lamp across the way I confess I do actually find this quite interesting also). So there we were, light breakfast almost forgtten and poised for brunch. Always a good time to hit a market methinks. Great atmosphere, I sniffed my way to the corner medi deli as usual and lost myself on the labels of spices and oils dreaming up concoctions, drifted past the (naturally) mutli coloured unpopped popcorns, salivated over the fresh breads and chocolate bomb like wotsits fresh out of the oven and finally tasted the wildberry and lavender artisan ice cream from Jenni's. She is an institution here. Other of her gourmet flavours include goats cheese and cherry, riesling and pear, stout and a bourbon salty caramel number. All of which are astonishingly delicious. I'd go so far as to call Jenni, Colombus' alchemist, turning readliy available ingredients into frozen gold. Moments later I was scoffing a bowl of Vietnamese delights - broken rice, grilled chicken with beansprouts & cucumber drizzled with that lovely chilli limey tangy spicy dressing I love about Asian salads. Cory was hidden behind a Reuben, Ken had a colourful assortment of Indian curries and Sam's face was plastered with hot Daaaag as he likes to call it in his overemphasized slightly phoney american accent he has chosen to claim on choice words. Wadah and Chicaaago are amongst the others (remember those ads for the pizzas? Turns out it was my son doing the voiceover) I am sure more will follow and I will have lost him to the yankees completely by next autumn. Did I just put the words "lost" and "yankees" in the same sentence?! My husband will have my guts for garters. World Series fever has hit. In seven games we will know who are the baseball champions of the world (even though only american teams take part). Phillies? Or the private sponsors of the ALexander-English household? Lets go you-know-who!!! I think Cory would secretly like me to watch the game and text him up to date reports. I'm telling you yankee fans don't go by halfs. The other week when my father-in-law Vern was in the audience, Cory and he had already agreed on a secret set of signals that the latter would use to pass on the score. Left hand LA Angels, Right hand Yankees. The Putting on the Ritz number was performed with an Igor apparently with some hand issues such were the frantic shapes he was making with them. You got to admire their loyalty though. Let me take you back to North Market now, as we satisfied five strapped ourselves into the car and Ken drove us all on to Colombus Zoo, number one in the country. What a beautifully laid out place. Probably emphasised by the fact that most of the usual young visitors were in school. It felt like we had the run of the place. Just lil ole us and a few others and the breathtaking autumn colours (see above picture. Yes, that is a zoo!). Once we got past some of the clubby music coming out from behind hedges at the entrance we took ourselves on a very relaxing foray into the animal kingdom. Struck most by the baby elephant hanging out with her mama, a lion during his vocal warm up, a huge manatee gliding under water watched up close in its tank, fascinating fox bats literally hanging out in their superhero guise and a whole family of gorillas checking out the visiting zoo exhibits passing their windows. Captivated most by the younger ones. Namely one son who enjoyed lengthy political discussions with one of the females before she regurgitated her food and ate it for the second time. On her third round, the alpha of the pack showed his teeth to her, and she, side stepping a fight (they had the visiting zoo there after all why waste time?) monkeyed to the other side after which he promptly licked it up for himself. Now thats what I call a close knit family. Close knit were we too 24 hours earlier when we were snugged into a packed bar at Schmidt's Sausage Haus down in the old German village. You turn a corner and suddenly a warren of cobbled streets welcoms you, each house more chocolate box than the other, all red brick and pointy rooves and shutters and picture postcard. At the end of a cul de sac is Schmidt's empire including a fudge haus. Half a pitcher later and we were clinking (heavy) glasses of Weiss biers (Sam just about pulling himself away from his potato bread to join in) and ordering sausages and sauerkraut all round. Good times had by all especially when the waitress made a mistake with the beer order and we ended up with a comunal one on the house. It seem that here the computer doesn't say noooooo. Cory took a moment to admire the waitresses "costumes". I spose thats what they call them down in the ole village. They were going for the most part for a successful version of beer keller chic. thats B for bosoms, beer, bratwurst and BIG deserts. We shuffled out, bodies happy with post lunch fatigue. What better way to remedy than a body pump class with Cory's colleagues. Yes, for the sake of the blog, I sent myself power walking down the road to pose as my husband (cast get free entry. Good job his name isn't Bob) to pump iron with a handful of lithe 6ft female dancers. All 5ft 2 roundness of sausage eating beer swilling me thought tall and exhaled with the best of them. We bounced about the gym following our leaders instructions whilst she flung prizes in our direction. Beth (of the red wig) was lobbed a $10 voucher for coffee from the unmentionable for guessing a number correctly, the only man in class got a free cap because well, em, he was the only man, a lady got a free t-shirt because it was her birthday 2 weeks ago, and another lady was awarded a cap because of her audience participation. I feel like pointing out that a. we are not strictly her audience, the teacher I mean and b. all of us are participating by actually lifting the darn weights again and again and again in the first place (note to self 10 bicep curls after a run does not count as conditioning). I had feared the trip had been ill-fated when one of the dancers called out "Hi Sara!" from across the room after I had just introduced myself, without some guilty hesitation as Cory to the instructor. The girls made fun of me a few times, or should I say Cory. I simply replied that they would not recognise me later. Not bad going after a full day's sight seeing (was asleep by 9. Hold on the gloat). The morning had been taken up at COSI, the science centre here devoted to children's exploration of the subject though for a few hours at least, Ken, Cory and I certainly had our under 10s heads on and stayed that way throughout the water splashing experiments, the balance boards, the space animation section. Something about the high wire unicycle rides on offer snapped us back to our real ages (though I have a sneaky suspicion my 10 year old self would have declined also), but not before we had run about the kids play area where Sam splashed some more, climbed, ran, sang, threw, rang, tumbled and generally worked up an appetite. Just before we left we found a section devoted to those electrical impulse whatchamahoochies that react to voice and touch. He took one look and told me that that was how the creature is made. In the show. The show. He took a few moments pretending to be Dr. Fronkensteen. As you do.. The buzz of this city is gentle but vital. Some attribute it to its arts communities, many cite the enormity of the university here, largest in the country. Its campus is certainly vast, its stadium holds 100,000 passionate spectators and students numbers are in the region of 50,000. Ken, without a hint of bemusement creeping out from under his gently southern twang, tells me that on game days folk will wear red in support regardless of the sport or whether they are particularly into the game being played. That good old fashioned loyalty rearing its proud head once again. We flicked through channels the other night during commercials (SO many drugs, so little time!) and Cory turns to me after seeing a clip of a marching band. With a half smile he shakes his head and thinks about the frivolity of many of his nations prime pastimes and passions. "Here we are" he says "rooting for this team or other, supporting our marching bands and so on when not so far away people don't even have clean water." I can safely say, any actor worth their salt has thought seriously on this. I don't offer up any neat conclusions and resist any pompous statements on the human condition (those are reserved for the blog), but just let the thought hang a second. Another American sat in the room might have baulked at what could be misconstrued at his offensively unpatriotic behaviour (not such a distant memory from heated discussions over here post 9-11). It seems that I am not the only one seeing the country with the fresh-ish eyes of the foreigner.

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