Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Those Quirky Boiseites! Item #1: Street names

I know that themed street names are nothing new. Most cities I've lived in have one or two neighborhoods with streets named after trees, colleges, or U.S. Presidents. But the suburbs of Boise seem to be taking this motif-based naming thing to a whole new level. Witness the following examples, just a small sampling from the neighborhoods I'm familiar with so far:


Here's my new hood.  I wonder why they chose these birds in particular. Kildeer? Curlew? I'm just happy I don't live on Grouse. And that I get to turn on Sagehen every day (chirp chirp!)


Who decided that Lancelot Ave. should be longer than King Arthur Dr.?  Maybe Guinevere had something to do with that.  She would know.  She intersects both of them.


Welcome to Candyland. Or maybe it's where Homer's sarcastic Magical Man lives.  I have been to the neighborhood, however, and let me tell you, it's not all that sweet.  Note the proximity to the railroad tracks. 


Does anyone REALLY want to live in Romeo and Juliet's neighborhood? Seems like the traffic from the funeral processions alone would be too much of a hassle.


Grab the shotgun, Myrtle!  We're going to live on Chuckwagon Ave.!


Too bad there's not a dock around here.

And yet, for all the creativity exhibited in the above examples, the names of some of the major streets are mind-numbingly dull.  According to Google maps, Five Mile Road and Ten Mile Road are actually 6 miles apart.  And in my neighborhood, I'm still not sure which cross street is where, because they all sound so similar:


In case it's too small to read, the highlighted roads are Midway Rd., Middleton Rd., and Midland Blvd.  No doubt about it, this is Middle America.

But hey, at least they try to spice it up a bit.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Things I miss about L.A. Item #1: Convenience

Item #1 was going to be variety. I've been disappointed in the limited selection of food at the grocery store. In fact, I'm disappointed in the limited selection of stores I have to choose from. I miss the little boutique shops, the hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the million different varieties of Pinkberry knockoffs. (Green Apple... Cantaloop... Yogurtland... Yogotango... I could go on and on.) But even some of the chains that seem to exist in every neighborhood in L.A. are absent here. No Trader Joe's? No Whole Foods? No Nordstrom? This is going to be hard.

But then I went to Fred Meyer and found the health food section, and I was amazed to see the wide assortment of wheat-free, dairy-free and meat-free products. I guess even the behemoth companies that are so prevalent here see the advantages of catering to the whims of a very impressionable American populace. Whatever the latest fad diets or convenient scapegoats are, they'll be there with the products you need to stay on the cutting edge of the mass hysteria. So I will at least be able to stock (what I consider to be) essentials, albeit from less inspiring sources.

If we actually lived in Boise City, I think I'd feel a little differently. I took a trip to the Boise Coop recently and as soon as I walked in the door, I could smell that familiar, comforting Health Food Smell. It's sort of a combination of deliciously earthy herbs like dill weed and slightly disturbing dietary supplements like seaweed. I filled my cart to the top with rice crisps, Annie's Homegrown fruit jellies, and several different types of wheat-free bread (this is before the Fred Meyer discovery). Since it's a 40-minute drive, I felt I needed to stock up.

We also spent a little time hobnobbing with the locals yesterday for the "Alive After Five" concert. It's an weekly event during the summer, with live music, local food and drinks. We weren't all that impressed with the singer, Tyrone Wells, whose music hovered dangerously close to self-involved, spoken rant. Nor was the food spectacularly impressive, given the fact that there was only one vendor. It was fun to be around people enjoying themselves, though, and we entertained ourselves by sizing up the Boiseites. Here are some of our observations:

- There are lots of tall people here. Is this a result of the local cuisine? Or is it that tall people feel more comfortable out here where there's more room to breathe? Maybe people just look tall in comparison to all the short actors in L.A. (It's true!)

- We were happily surprised to see several openly gay couples. Even in L.A. (outside of WeHo), it's rare to see same-sex couples holding hands. True, they weren't exactly flaunting it in front of everyone, but they seemed pretty comfortable standing hand-in-hand at the edge of the crowd.

- Ethnic diversity, on the other hand, is harder to find, even in the city. The crowd was very white and very blonde. And all the women seem to have the same hairdo, all in that same streaked white-blonde color.

- Boise has its share of weirdos. We didn't see anyone quite as provocatively-dressed as our neighborhood tranny in L.A., but there was a tall (see?) gentleman striding around who was the spitting image of Rod Stewart in full concert regalia. He wore a frilly pink shirt with stunningly elaborate cuffs under a beautifully-tailored black pinstripe suit. The jacket had long tails like a tux. He also sported a large black ring on every finger and pink, high-heeled cowboy boots.

So variety isn't exactly the right word for what I miss. It's there, but you have to seek it out, especially if you live in a suburb of a suburb, as we do. Speaking of which, check out my pictures on Flickr from a recent walk I took in our neighborhood. After walking a few blocks, the surroundings became completely rural. We're on the edge of civilization! By contrast, I could walk from my apartment in L.A. to any number of stores, bars, and restaurants, both big chains and unique, independent shops. Convenience is a way of life in L.A.

In exchange, we are enjoying the pleasures of easy-to-find locally grown fresh produce. "Buy Local" is a mantra I see everywhere, and it's nice to read on the package where the food originated. Within walking distance of our house there is a ranch market that sells all kinds of local produce (in addition to stuffed olives from California...??), and most people have a vegetable garden that is overflowing at this time of year with squash, tomatoes and corn.

So I guess I'm going to just have to get used to living more slowly, working harder to find the conveniences that used to be steps away, and finding ways to enjoy the journey it takes to get there. That is not, as I have mentioned before, one of my strong points. But this experience is supposed to be about growth and discovery, so I will take the challenge. And I will do my Nordstrom shopping online.