I’m back! Goodbye city of brotherly love, hello again HRM

I apologize for the lack of posts recently.  I have been in Philadelphia for the last couple weeks for a conference, a family wedding, and a few days of vacation and prior to that was having some moderately bad carpal tunnel issues due to all the end of term reports, exams, and projects I was working on.  But now there are three new posts from today!

After my final exam a couple Mondays ago I headed off to the airport to fly home to Philadelphia.  Monday night and Tuesday I hung out at home, and Tuesday night I picked up Gillian from the train station (she bought her flight through an Orbitz-like website and her “connecting flight” from Newark ended up being an Amtrak train ride instead, “operating as United”).  Wednesday the two of us headed into the city and then grabbed a bus down to the University of Delaware for the first day of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International Conference .  We had a nice tour of a few different labs down there and then came back to Philly where we met up with our advisor Cheryl for a delicious dinner at Lee How Fook in Philly’s Chinatown.  Gillian and I then spent one more night at my parents’ house before moving to a hotel downtown for the remainder of the conference, which went through Sunday mid-day.  It was a really good conference, busy, but good, and I got to do some networking with people in the field and meet up with some people I knew from my research at Duke during my undergrad.

I unfortunately got gluten-ed somewhere along the way but due to that felt (relatively) spectacular the next day despite feeling kind of gross overall from eating out so much.    We had some more great meals at the Reading Terminal Market, the Corner, El Vez, and Vedge in Philadelphia.  Gillian and I went out to Vedge on Saturday after the rest of our Dalhousie crew had already headed home.  It is a super hip vegan restaurant in Philly that has been named one of the best new restaurants in the country.  They had a bunch of things that could be done gluten free as well.  My favorite was the “fancy radishes.”  I almost didn’t get them because it isn’t an especially cheap restaurant (although the quality of the food is definitely worth the price) and I was trying to save money by getting less food but I am very glad I splurged in the end because they ended up being my favorite.  I also wasn’t sure if I even liked radishes – apparently I love them.  They were done up sort of as a deconstructed sushi, with many different types of radishes – some roasted, some pickled, and some seasoned with ginger.  And they came with  avocado with sesame seeds, seaweed strips, tamari (GF soy) sauce, and some chopsticks to eat them with.  I also had some cucumbers off their “daily dirt” specials list with some sort of creamy sauce that was really good and a hot dish that was cauliflower and eggplant done up like a burrito with a green Italian salsa verde (tasted like pesto).  It wasn’t until this last dish that I was thinking wow this is really great, but it would be to die for if it was wrapped in bacon.  So, I didn’t miss the meat too much and was pleasantly surprised with what they could do with the few ingredients available when trying to make a dish vegan and gluten-free (you will notice the lack of posts on Gillian and my vegan – GF cooking experiments despite having been roomies for four months now).  I also had their ice cream/sorbet dessert trio (I picked the coffee ice cream, chocolate whiskey ice cream, and cherry blossom sorbet) and a cappuccino, which were all really delicious as well.

After the conference I got to visit with a lot of family and friends in the few days I had off, and then headed down to Delaware with my mom on Thursday night to visit with my grandparents and pick up my grandmother to take her down to my cousin’s wedding in Richmond, VA on Friday.  The rest of my family also met us down there along with lots and lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.  I got pretty sunburned sitting out at lunch at Legend Brewery in Richmond (where I had some cider and a great burger on a gluten free bun while looking across the river at the city skyline).  I guess this is the first time my skin has seen the sun this year since it snowed a few nights before I left Halifax.  But my little bit of Cuban heritage has been slowly fighting back against the much larger Irish part of me and most of the burn has turned to tan now.  Woo hoo!

My cousin Sara’s new husband, Marcel, is from Cameroon so on Friday night we had a casual African themed rehearsal dinner.  Everyone in our family wore bright colors and one aunt and uncle even went out and bought authentic African shirts to wear to the party.  I brought my drum that I had bought in Uganda a few years ago and it got a little use when Marcel’s family sang a traditional song and everyone got up to dance.  But the dancing at the rehearsal was nothing compared to the next night at the actual wedding.  My family LOVES to dance – and there are a lot of us so we tend to feed off of each other’s enthusiasm.  Needless to say, I could hardly walk the next morning because my calves were so sore.  I must have been doing a lot of jumping around.  But my dad and I went for an early morning recovery soak in the hotel’s hot tub and I am almost back to normal now (four days later).  Also I just happened to match the bridesmaids…

That's me (fridesmaid = fake bridesmaid) in the middle of all the real bridesmaids.

That’s me (fridesmaid = fake bridesmaid) in the middle of all the real ones.

So overall it was a good trip although it felt like it went by pretty quick.  I got to do/eat a lot of my favorite Philadelphia things (also I was pleased to see they served traditional Philly cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and tastykakes at the conference, although none are gluten free) and I got to see a lot of the people I hoped to see.  I will try to get to see the rest of you on my next trip, I promise!

It feels a little weird to be back here but I have been pretty productive since I got back: getting a dresser off Kijiji (similar site to craigslist), grocery shopping, getting shin guards for the field hockey team I am going to play on, returning my library book that was due and getting a few more, unpacking the two giant checked bags I brought back, doing a few cooking experiments, and even getting some work done!  Also I was very happy to see that it has warmed up a lot in Halifax now (15 degrees Celsius today – shorts weather!  well, almost, still a little windy).  Now I am going to try to go enjoy the last bit of the warm sunny weather today with a little walk (or jog if I am feeling really ambitious).  I need to get in shape for field hockey now so I guess I have to get moving!

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