To conclude my report on my recent particularly nice visit to Michigan:
My favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor is Seva, which recently moved from its downtown location to a shopping center at the west edge of town, Westgate. I think their rent went way up or something, and many of their patrons who don’t like to go downtown are happy it is now somewhere with easy parking, though I never have problems parking downtown. There are at least three perfectly satisfactory parking lots or structures near the old location.
One gloomy evening, Ginny and I trekked over to Westgate to try the new Seva. It was formerly in a house with a comedy club in the basement and the main room was carpeted, funky, slightly worn. It was pleasant and welcoming. You could tell hippies had been on the premises and might still be. When I was in high school, the long-haired older brother of a close friend worked there.
The new location is in a strip mall and is one large room, bigger than the old place, with concrete floors, and a cold, modern feel. I also noticed right away that it smelled weird, no doubt due to its having opened only a couple of weeks before. We sat down and while we were looking at the menu, my head started to feel strange. We went ahead and ordered, but I got a premonition of myself two weeks later, with a lingering headache and covered with an unsightly rash, lamenting, “This all started that night at Seva! Why did I sit in there for 90 minutes?”
I told Ginny, and when our server came back, I said I thought we would need to cancel our order. I’ve never before canceled a restaurant order after placing it, but I believe there is precedent for this. The server asked if we’d like to have it packed up as takeout, and I agreed to that, but Ginny, thankfully, could see I was acquiescing to something I didn’t really want. The server said that if we didn’t take it, they’d just have to throw it out, and I am sensitive to that, but it was cold and raining and the thought of standing in the parking lot holding bags of food, trying to figure out where to eat it, was rather cheerless.
So off we went and ended up at Café Zola, which is downtown (where there is plenty of easy parking!), and which has agreeable ambience and (I think) fantastic food, but is always extremely loud. I had a super-delicious salmon burger and Ginny had a newfangled thing with an egg in it that she said was good.
Speaking of salmon burgers, Whole Foods was for a time selling some that were really tasty, but then they stopped. When it was clear they weren’t coming back, I asked my father to draft some correspondence expressing our disapprobation. I’m getting excellent-tasting canned salmon now from Vital Choice, which tests for a host of things, including radiation, and I noticed they have sockeye salmon burgers, so I ordered some. They have two choices, one of which is made with all organic ingredients, besides the salmon itself, including organic extra virgin olive oil.
The 24 frozen-solid burgers arrived in a Styrofoam crate packed with dry ice: not exactly environmentally friendly. At first, I didn’t like these as much as Whole Foods’, which were somehow yummier, but that’s probably because there were too many added ingredients—they were probably a variety of junk food. The Vital Choice salmon burgers just taste like salmon, with a hint of seasoning, and now I like them a lot, but maybe shouldn’t order any more of them, due to the Styrofoam. Is there a biodegradable Styrofoam equivalent? I’ll call Vital Choice and discuss the matter with them. I also came upon a recipe for making burgers out of canned salmon, which I will try. You add an egg, flax meal and almond meal, form patties, lubricate with olive oil and bake.
The day after Ginny and I went to Café Zola, Amy and I met up at for lunch at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. What I had wasn’t very good—an extremely soggy veggie burger made with beans—but there’s probably something else there that would be good another time. It was excellent to see both Ginny and Amy. Amy has just gotten married and showed me pictures of her wedding, which were very moving.
To pass our time in the hospital while Mom had her surgery or slept, and in between my runs to the vending machine or the little café, Dad explained to me how a logarithmic chart differs from a linear one—he’d printed out a number of pictures and sheets covered with equations—and why a logarithmic chart might be better for expressing returns on a stock holding: “The annual rate of return is directly proportional to the slope of each plot. Percentage changes or fluctuations appear the same size no matter what the absolute value is.”
Dad explained the equation for compound interest and then got interested in seeing if he could prove why the value of a decimal number whose digits add up to a multiple of three is also equal to a multiple of three. The morning after I spent the night in the hospital, Dad seemed a bit late in returning, which turned out to be because he had worked on and completed this. He brought a printout, and when we were back at home, he explained it line by line.
Wednesday morning, when my mother otherwise would have been released from the hospital, it was discovered that her blood sodium was too low. My father asked the doctor, “Should we encourage her to eat salty foods or is that too simplistic?” The doctor said that was not too simplistic at all, so we ran for the salty nuts and Cheetos, and later that afternoon she passed the sodium test and we all came home.
I took a break from my dharma book and read a book I found in my mother’s voluminous (literally) library: Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala. She was in Sri Lanka when the Indian Ocean tsunami occurred, which swept away her two little boys, and her husband, and her mother, and her father. She lived because she spotted a tree branch above and grabbed it, but writes that if she’d known her whole family was gone, she wouldn’t have reached for the branch. It took her nearly four years to return to the London home they’d shared.
It sounds like something that would be unbearable to read, but it’s mainly a vivid portrait of her lost loved ones, beautifully written, skillfully paced. A movie about this event features Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, because it’s a lot sadder when it’s blond-haired blue-eyed people who are affected, as my favorite cashier at Rainbow said, and in the movie, by the end, every member of the family is still alive. So that’s a little different.