For desert and a treat, we headed across the street to the Cold Stone Creamery. It's a very busy spot where they mix your ice cream while you watch with your choice of ingredients. I chose the Cheesecake Fantasy, while Laura went with the Strawberry Shortcake, both of which made our mouths water and filled us up for a few days. We reminisced about college days and plans for future houses and pets with the Settles (both girls want chickens for some reason, and will most likely get them someday) until the cold night air overtook us, sending us home with a chill and good memories of an evening with friends.
Wednesday we headed downtown to have a birthday dinner with Matt Anderson. The Japanese resturant on State Street was a bit difficult to get to with the evenings Concert on the Square traffic. But we found a spot in a nearby parking garage and gathered around the Hibacci table. Everyone but me ordered Hibacci (I got a nice tofu terriaki with no added onions) and we all enjoyed watching the chef cook right before our eyes.
First the chef cleaned the surface of the grill with leaping flames. The first dish was Mark's fried rice- with everything already pre-cut, the chef put down the rice, the diced veggies and joined it all together with an egg. Next came the main dishes. In the center, was a large pile of veggies to be stir fried surrounded with thinly cut pieces of salmon and steak. The hot spot for the grill must have been the center, next to the chef because he kept everything there moving quickly. The cooler spots must have been the outer edges where the fish cooked since they were left on their own for longer portions of time.
While these main dishes were cooked, we got our sushi dishes- I had the best californian rolls ever! I don't know what they did, but the results were wonderful! My meal came out just as everyone was getting their hibbaci dishes- perfect timing.
The table next to us started filling with young women- who sat down and ordered large amounts of beer and saki. Occationally they would place two chopsticks on top of their beer mugs with the little saki cups balenced above. Then in a big hoop they would all pound on the tables in hopes of displacing their saki cups to fall in the beer- every time scaring me crazy.
Fortunately the rest of the guys in our party finished their meals relatively quickly- and everyone picked an ice cream of their choice. Mark and I split vanilla, there were several green teas and some adventurous red bean (not on the menu but you could request it).
Today we purchased our train tickets to Germany- we have twin passes for 6 24 hour periods. That should be just right for our schedule. The twin passes are a really inexpensive way for two people to travel together on trains throughout Germany. I am really excited to get a ride on the German rail- the system seems so smooth- like the bus system here in Madison. We also each got van Guilder bus tickets to take us from Madison to Chicago (where our planes leave from). Now we just need some hotel reservations and we will be all set!
The drive down to Richland Center is really very beautiful with rolling tree covered hills and valleys full of farmland. Mark liked the setting- being a fan of hills verses plains. We walked around the campus, it was all closed, but we could see into the windows and I showed Mark the classrooms I would be teaching in. The campus hosts 500 students- a nice small size that Mark and I both liked.
On the way back, Mark pulled off to the side of the road so I could get a shot of an amazing house- rather like a hobbit home, with the frount open to the world, imbedded into the side of a hill. I would love to talk with the owners- I bet the heating and cooling bills are really low year round.
Next we took a side trip to the Bruce Company to admire the plants and then visited to the Bavarian Family Restaurant for a bite to eat. Mark enjoyed a Gyro while I tackled a warm ham and cheese. Someday we are going to have to come just for desert!
We spent the rest of the day reading Harry Potter- we both think that it is her best book yet.
I looked forward to the interviews as interesting ways to meet new people and discuss the job that I enjoy greatly- teaching. It is the best way to see if a position is a good match for you. Comparing the two interviews, there were some interesting differences. At MATC I was interviewed by two gentleman asking more direct questions about qualifications- one the head of the department and one in charge of hiring staff. It was an hour long interview that went very well.
At Richland Center, I was interviewed by the Dean and Associate Dean first. They asked more general questions about teaching- and I was glad I reviewed my educational phsychology class notes before I came. I couldn't really bring up much information about the technical aspects of computer science because they did not have any direct experience. Half way through the interview, I talked with the head of the computer science/physics/astrology department and discussed the more technical aspects of the field. Everyone I met was very nice and thoughtful.
Overall it seems that interviewing is a game- a game of words and image. How you present yourself (black suit, hair up, ...) is very important. Looking people in the eyes is very important. Probly the most important was having good references and I am very fortuante to have three really wonderful references from my time at UW-Madison. The process was a bit stressful, but exciting as well. Perhaps all of my years of teaching have dulled my nerves because I didn't even get a fast heart beat.
Well, I was offered the job at Richland Center at the end of the interview. My first offer after college! They said I was their top pick- I was rather shocked, and while I think I was composed the entire interview, once I heard this I babbled for a bit trying to find words to say more than "Wow" and "thanks," finally getting to "when do I need to let you know my answer."
Right now I am not sure what to do. While the drive out there was beautiful, I am not sure it is possible in winter under two and a half hours (there an back). That is an awfully long time on the road and the classes they want me to teach are every day of the week.
Hitting the block prints we saw Ken Swanson, headed to Wendy Hill's booth and after a bit of discussion, picked up "My Backyard is a Rainforest" by Marvin Hill- a piece that reminds us of the wilds of nature- but it is a bit spooky with pairs of eyes peaking from under the foliage.
We also picked up a really cool salt shaker- we played with them so long that we just had to get one. The gentleman told us that the design was Chinese originally- and a fascinating design it is. I can't wait to use it. As the heat kept building, we headed to the Art Fair off the Square and made a circle Visiting all of our old favorites, and keeping in mind the new ones.
For a spot of lunch we stopped at the Queen Anne's Catering booth. After our sandwiches and a brief respite under the trees we picked up a cool smoothy and finished the last half of the square. Here we found mechanical creations transporting marbles, Zover's amazing mosaics (his wife works for Industrial Engineering department and helped me choose my classes to get my second masters- Lisa is wonderful), beautiful turned wooden bowls (one artist told me that the black lines- spalding- that I like so much in the light woods is actually where bacteria has gotten into the wood and started having lunch- their creations are truly impressive- I really want to learn the technique- just need a woodshed), and so many wonderful creations that my head was spinning by the end of it all.
At the end, we happily went home to our A/C apartment to enjoy the cool air and reminisced about the sites of the day.
We wrapped up with a light game of "Why did the Chicken...?" This is a fun game for those with quick whit- I bet my Dad would be really good at this one- but tonight was not my night for comedy- Matt racked up several really good ones and I am always impressed with my husband's clever sense of humor.
A good night of games with good friends!
Before the sun went down, we staked out our spot with a beautiful quilt they brought. Mark and Burr lined up a game of Guillotine while Natalie and I headed to the paved path. On the path, we grew a collection of black snakes from a collection of fireworks that Natalie got from her landscape company. The snakes are my personal favorite- I like the fire at the base and who couldn't like the light black snakes that stain your hands as you gently pick them up (or squash them happily)!
When Natalie and I returned, we jumped into the game until the sun went down. At dusk we lighted up some sparklers and drew our names in the air- all the while looking around at the fireworks being lit by our neighbors. The show that night was truly spectacular and made me a bit homesick. When I was growing up, I remember going to Georgetown park, arriving early to eat a meal of fried chicken, potato salad, and watermelon (although I don't eat the melon- personal dislike, I am more than happy to have a spitting contest with the seeds). Anyways, the fireworks at the park were just like the ones at Georgetown, nice and spaced out, not too overwhelming- just right. It gives you the chance to appreciate the beauty of the fireworks.
What a wonderful 4th of July!
Saturday night we headed out to Rhythm and Booms- we tried a new spot this year. Parking by the medical sciences above ground lot we made our way to observatory hill. Since we were nice and early, we made use of the daylight and got in a couple of rounds of Lost Cities. When it got too dark to play we listened to our radios (Rhythm and Booms gets its name from the timing of music and fireworks). Mark also got some great shots from our digital camera using the shutter speed delay. It was a captivating show this year!
Sunday morning we headed out for a round of Golf. We hit the same course we went to for Mark's birthday to try my new golf skills (I just finished a golf 1 class at the university last semester). Mark always impresses me with his long drives and great putting. This time I was able to shave some strokes from my score and was happy with my nice direct drives... still need to work on my putting. At one point I even got some congradulations from the pair behind us on a particularly nice chip- my play of the day :)
The rest of the day we spent relasing and reading some long awaited novels- I am making progress in my alphabet murder mystery series while Mark is working his way through all of the Harry Potter books before the new one comes out- I was skeptical at first, but I think he might make it through all of them- an impressive feat.