Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm Having a Music Moment

I've been reading The Current's 2009 staff picks for best songs of the year, and kind of totally disagree with them. Even though I love 89.3 FM and it's pretty much the only station I have constant faith in.

So I decided to make my own list.

Not all of these songs were released in 2009, but since 2009 was a year of many wonderful--and diverse--music discoveries for me, I thought I'd share. (The fruits of much time spent combing through what's out there.)

Until recently I don't think I'd ever realized how much I truly loved music. Probably because I never wanted my introduction to be "Hi, I'm Abbe. I like music and traveling and hanging out with friends." Because it really doesn't tell you much, and who doesn't like those things?

But then I realized that maybe I was listening to music a lot more than people around me and that it totally transformed how I felt about things, usually for the better.

Each of these songs really shot me in the heart for one reason or another. Some remind me of how my liking them changes how people see me, some capture what is to me the feeling of being my age at this point in the world, and some just kind of send me to the place I go when I'm just totally over a certain something and want to be elsewhere and in my own moment.

So for what it's worth, here are 12 of my favorite songs of the year.
Check them out and tell me which ones you like!

1. You Take My Breath Away - The Knife
2. Psyche (Flash Treatment) - Massive Attack
3. Right Round - Flo Rida
4. My Girls - Animal Collective
5. Happy Up Here - Royksopp
6. 2080 - Yeasayer
7. Ride a White Horse - Goldfrapp
8. Senegal Fast-Food - Amadou & Mariam
9. Dayvan Cowboy - Boards of Canada
10. Dominos - The Big Pink
11. Little Secrets - Passion Pit
12. Alive - Kid Cudi

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Snow


On the first truly sobering winter commute this past weekend, I attempted to capture the essence of my afternoon drive--snow, dance music, and eventual happy reunions with the dog.

It should probably be noted that I don't routinely take video of myself. It's just that the crawl was SO BORING.

To those from Wisconsin, I mean no disrespect, which you might gather from my reaction to the lane budger in the video. It's just that it totally frosts my cookies when people cut in line in the 94 bottleneck. It's one of the few topics I could wholeheartedly rant on. Even more so than when people write things that are supposed to be legible with yellow marker on poster board.

I don't mean to sound mean. It just seems like if no one budged the whole thing would go faster. Anyway, the writing is on the wall. Winter is here, it's cold and snowy, and I just have to accept the fact that going anywhere will take longer. Pack the tunes, and possibly a snack.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Report

Hello! I have to apologize for a long absence. But that probably means I've been out on the town doing my thang. Much has gone on, and here is a brief recap:

1. Twin Cities Marathon
2. Trip to Northern California
3. Halloween - Gus in costume
4. New job!
5. 3-yr anniversary!!!

1. Twin Cities Marathon -
Quite the day. A learning experience. Not what I thought it would be. But I don't regret it at all. The good news is I beat last year's time, but only by the slightest of margins. The stars were just not aligned for an optimal day.

I basically had four race goals but only met two of them, the two that I thought would be givens. But that's what you learn in a marathon--some days, it just isn't happening. Luckily, the kind of constant hard effort put into preparation is just so much a normal part of my life now for anything I'm doing that I don't feel any "but I worked so hard!" kind of regret. It's just my style, so you just pause and reflect, allow yourself one "that was totally not fair" moment, then move on.

This will not be my last marathon - let's put it that way.

2. Trip to Northern California:
Micah and I went to visit Aunt Ann in Santa Rosa for a week and had a blast touring all the surrounding areas (coast, redwoods, wineries) in her zippy red Honda Fit. This trip was just a few days after the marathon - which gave us just enough time to recover our legs (which were truly gone, by the way) and invest in many fun outdoor activities involving hiking, most notably an endless trek up a winding hillside to find Jack London's elusive "lake," which turned out to be little more than a swampy pond at this point in time. But I'm sure it was just lovely in Jack London's day!

The wineries were also fun. We avoided the boisterous crowds and tour buses, and just dropped in on a few long enough to sample their offerings, bring a bottle back to Aunt Ann, and not develop any screwdriver-to-the-head wine hangovers. Because THOSE are fun!

3. Halloween - Gus in costume:
Gus as a hotdog. Little more need be said.

It should also be noted that I bought about 9lbs. too many of candy and I ended up being the Swedish Fish/Candy Corn girl at work.

4. New job!
As of Mon. 11/16, I have moved into a new role for the same company in its International division! Woot woot! As much as I loved where I was (well, minus the ridiculousless of what had been the current situation), I am really loving being in the center of the beehive of activity now!

The main office, for lack of a better description, is seriously buzzing. It's the kind of place that makes you feel like you should wear heels every single day. (Okay, not everyone will share that sentiment, judging from the range of what people apparently deem acceptable as work attire, but you get my point.) It makes ME feel like I should wear heels every single day.

Unfortunately though, after stomping around in my best-est heels for three straight days I seem to have done some damage to my foot. (I know, I KNOW; I don't want to hear it!) But this new daily transition from multi-story parking lot jungle to office in an inner layer of the building is much farther to walk than I ever had to before--so how was I to know? But believe me, you won't see this fille wearing running shoes for anything but running anytime soon.

5. 3-yr anniversary!!!
That's right, we're keeping it real. Micah and I celebrated three years of wonderful-ness on 11/18! Best Husband Ever Award. Looked at some wedding photos--I still can't get over the one where my bicep looks massive as I hug him.

So yes, things are moving. I went to the MCAD Art Sale yesterday with Muffy and was blown away of course. I'm sure they know it, but those students are so lucky to be able to have art be the thing they are supposed to be doing. Even if it involves merciless deadlines and extreme subjectivity.

When I was combing through stuff, I kept pulling out the same artists' creations without realizing it until I turned them over to see the artist name.
A few come to mind:

1. Nadia Alenov - photography - super-ethereal Russian churches and landscapes - reminded me of the photography exhibit Muffy, Mom, and I went to see at the Museum of Russian Art a while back of century-old photography commissioned by a tsar to showcase the country.

I love the juxtaposition of Crayola-colored onion-dome ornate churches and their being in the middle of freakin nowhere. It's like the ultimate polar opposite of US suburban sprawl--does that make sense to anyone besides me? It just came to mind.

2. Alex Chronowski - painting/prints - very much enjoy the colorful, semi-abstract stuff. I bought a mini painting that you could work into pretty much any environment. I could probably design a whole interior revolving around her work and some toile for contrast.

3. Kari Thomson - prints - creator of the crane origami how-to print I purchased, mainly because it was blue and I also love any art that is somewhat technical or diagram-like in nature. It will go great in our house.

4. And of course - MUFFAY! I wanted to buy all her stuff but she assured me I could get the Sister Discount: free prints of anything. I will be calling!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back in Town

I've been off the grid! And you're not mistaken--a marathon and a vacation did just go down. Stories to come!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hello, my people!

Oh what to do, what to do when you're so maxed out that even the most exciting of movie topics (Vogue's The September Issue) isn't quite enough to keep you from yawning like a banshee and trying not to fall asleep in the theater?

When ONE prickly pear margarita threatens to send you to bed?

When you can't bear the thought of logging onto the network one more time today?

When Gus the Rooster alarm clock in the morning isn't even 1% funny?


Yes. And fold them. And put them in the linen closet.

This is therapy. Not that things are going badly at all. But there is something incredibly satisfying about a task started and finished and producing a lovely result in five minutes. So opposite to the mire of the billion work need-to's I'm juggling. My linen closet is like the popular kid right now--where it's at.

  • Days until the Twin Cities Marathon: 8
  • Months since I've swam: 2
  • Years since I was a young collegiate traipsing about France: 6
  • Pairs of neon green shoelaces I currently own: 1
  • Average daily wakeup time: 5:17am
  • Accounts I'm handling at work: 72
  • Max height of models on current season of America's Next Top Model: 5'7''
  • Times I've wanted a back rub during the last ten minutes: 10
  • Exciting Napa trips right around the corner: 1 (Yes!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Was Thinking

Maybe I should trade in my car for one of these.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Photos from a Wisconsin Wedding

We attended a totally cool wedding this weekend! Time to marry off another high school friend. I say that like I have more than two high school friends who are married. But still, the marriage circle has been complete, now that Mark and I are finally seeing our fellow bandie and dear friend make it official with such an awesome girl who wore a SUPER AWESOME thing in her hair for the occasion.

Ben and Melissa said their vows on a farm outside Red Wing and treated everyone to a good dose of Wisconsin cheese, California wine, and the Virginia Reel. Not a night soon forgotten! It turns out I'm a very expressive square dancer, in a good way. Sassy. My dance partner wasn't bad, either. Very good at Allemand Right/Allemand Left!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Back to School For ME!

Man, I have not been good about updating. Late August and early September could be called a little something like Work/Marathon Medley with a Dash of Square Dancing. Fun, fun, fun on the run!
Here is a picture of my lovely Indian cocktail dress. The good news: It fits! The bad news: Like most knee-length dresses, it comes out way too short on me. As in I would almost consider wearing another skirt under it. Such is life!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Indiana Mumbai

Hello! This will be a short post. I'm currently on break in the middle of Day 4 of training. It's going well and all the trainees are great! We're doing our best to make training F-U-N.

It's not raining too much here, but last night the rain was of Old Testament proportions. The weekend in Agra and Delhi we just went on was super fun!! I'll post more pictures, but here's one of the view of Powai Lake from my hotel room.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Well here I am, in India! I don't have much more to report than you might expect from one's first 24 hours of travel to and in Mumbai:

  • Smooth flights

  • Luggage claim lasting as long as the flights

  • Humidity bordering on a personality

  • Bumpy traffic best appreciated with eyes closed

  • Chicken Tikka Masala

Everyone is doing well, though we're completely time-inverted right now. (Not good when combined with troubleshooting computer setups!) Our part of training the new employees starts tomorrow, and we're hoping for a smooth go. Off to sleep!

p.s. There was a major solar eclipse here this morning, but no one in Mumbai could see it because of the clouds. I hear it was more visible in other cities.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Race #7 and Done (for now)

The Heart of the Lakes Tri was yesterday in Annandale and it was a blast--and a great way for me to finish my tri season. Lots of P2 teammates raced and did well, particularly Micah, against a very deep field. I'm so proud of him!!

My goal for this race was two-fold: 1) finish my season with a strong performance that I wouldn't look back on with any sort of "should have" sentiment and 2) beat my time from last year. Well, check and check. 

Finally my swimming is coming around! Coming out of the water 3 minutes earlier than last year put me in a much better position heading onto the bike. The bike course was fast, and I think my 21.2 mph was the same as last year. The run out of transition was seriously like a 200M dash--that long. 

The run was where I really didn't want to leave anything. Since I started in Wave 8 (the last wave), I got to spend the entire run hunting down women with earlier wave #s written on their calves and picking them off one by one. It was a very fun game! I do think it's what helped me keep my mile splits down around 7:24 (vs. 7:35 LY). Busted out a sprint to the finish right after I passed Dad, and it felt AWESOME! Good enough for 3rd in my age group in a very competitive field and a chance to stand on the awards podium! 

One note on the female overall placings: I was 17th. But here's what I don't get. The transition area is set up with certain bike racks designated for different waves (which are determined by age). In most races you can rack wherever. (The prize for being an early bird).

My designated rack was located at the very far end of the transition area, while others for other female age groups were positioned so that they only had to run maybe half of that distance in and out of transition. So in my mind, the overall gender placings at this race don't mean very much if the transition distances don't equal out (which they usually do). 

Either way, it was great fun and it left me wanting more! Better to end the season a little early than be burnt out in August! 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pack your Wellies, Kids!

Here's what Mumbai looks like right now.
Note: I am not in India yet and did not take this picture. But I hope to get some good monsoon shots!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Surprise Party!

What a weekend! Little did I know that on Friday night when I was walking in to Cafe Lurcat for what I thought was a family dinner that it was a surprise party Micah had been planning for me for a month! And I wasn't expecting to see fifty people there for ME! Totally awesome. With champagne and french fries. 

I've never had a surprise party before, and it's not really something you can ask for. But I totally didn't expect it, even when random people at morning swim practice started saying things like, "Hey, your birthday is coming up, right?" 

At any rate, it's a good thing I was dressed up! The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of food, family get-togethers, and a triathlon thrown in for good measure. I leave for Mumbai in a week, and it feels like I've already done more so far this summer than in any past summer. The Turmans, they party.  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Month of June and Where it Might Have Gone

It's been a while, I know. June is always the month that goes by the fastest. 

I think it's the relative summer velocity that hits and you don't even realize until about June 23rd and then you go, "DAH! I still haven't even walked around Lake Calhoun yet!"

Said velocity entailing:
  • Unprecedented busy times at work threatening to swallow you into their air-conditioned vortex...and invading your dreams. (Who would otherwise dream about Microsoft Desktop products and features only available in the Office 2007 versions?)
  • Keeping the training and quality race performances going (since you spent all dark winter dreaming about them and you aren't about to biff that)
  • BBQ/Happy Hour City 
  • Incessant Minnesota guilt over wasting a moment of warm weather
  • ...and then you have to worry about how the lawn looks? (Okay, I'm not actually the family mower, but still. No wait, I AM the family lawn edger and lilac bush trimmer.)
Regardless, the days are going by so quickly. BUT, we've done a lot. 

The Lake Minnetonka Tri was last weekend, and Micah & I both had a blast. Dad came out to watch, which was great! 

We went from this downpour Friday night in Excelsior to super sunny on race day:

We were both really happy with our performances, and walked away with two trophies! This was the first race where I felt my swim was on par and not a major limiter for me. It was only a 1/2 mile swim and felt so short after the 1500M swim in an Olympic distance race. I really like these short races!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cabin Time

This is why I don't mind driving 3.5 hours, even if it's just for a short weekend. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Leave it to me to open the door to our neighborhood "block leader" the day we moved in and somehow get on her email distribution list. Now I get the world's most random emails (like the following) on a regular basis, this one entitled "Bird": 

"Is anyone missing a bird, or know of anyone missing a bird.  
One of the neighbors found a tame bird that cannot fly.  If you know of anyone, please let me know."

And the first thing that comes to mind is how on earth a flightless bird escaped from somewhere! Hopping? And of course there's never any follow-up to these emails, no "Pickles the Parakeet has been reunited with his owner!" Just random emails about random things, and I'm left to feel guilty when I don't respond to them.

Or the one entitled "I'VE BEEN HIT!!!!!!" where the scene of money theft appears to have involved an unlocked car, a missing nickel, and a garage too full of junk to house said car. 

I probably shouldn't complain, but what I'd like to know is how these things are newsworthy and then she fails to comment on, for example, the ridiculously loud fireworks/bombs going off for ten minutes straight at 2am once. I was really looking forward to the email on that one. Nothing. 


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shameless Cooking Plug

I am so proud of what I made for dinner last night! TOSTONES. They look like they would take forever to make, but not so. 

It's amazing what you can do with the humble and cheap green plantain. They have become my favorite food (along with bacon of course) after enjoying them in Costa Rica, Colombia...and at El Meson in Minneapolis. 

Let's just put it out there that Super Target does NOT carry them. Byerlys or Lunds usually has a few tucked in next to the bananas. They're a staple food across the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America, and I think they're the bomb. 

Though yet again an example of a food where people always say "This would be so much fresher if we were in...Ecuador...Jamaica...blah blah." Well this is Minnesota, and we only grow are sugar beets and soybeans, so I'm sorry. These were still good, even if they didn't come from my back yard.

Your basic steps: 
1. Fry peeled/sliced plantains in medium-hot vegetable oil for 2' on each side.
2. Transfer to paper towels to drain. 
3. Flatten with something heavy like a frying pan. (An actual implement, the tostonera, was designed specifically for this, but it wasn't exactly on my wedding registry.)

4. Increase the oil heat slightly and re-fry the flattened discs for another minute.
5. Transfer to paper towels again. 

5. Convince dog they are not his favorite sweet food--bananas.

6. Serve with cilantro, lime, and salt. And avocado/salsa.
I will make this for you. Just ask! 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Could Someone Please Explain...

...why anyone cares that Spencer and Heidi got married for like the third time now? 

I'm really not sure what they've done to merit celebrity. Appear on a reality show about 23-year-old entitlement hounds who somehow drive Audi convertibles, yes. But there are so many questions left unanswered. Something to ponder on today's run. 

If I weren't addicted to I am SURE I wouldn't have a clue who they are because they haven't actually done anything. But perhaps someday "Speidi" will be the answer to a NY Times crossword puzzle clue...and none of the old people will know it. It will be comparable to my level of knowledge surrounding High School Musical. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Apple Duathlon Recap

Saturday we had a duathlon in Sartell, the Apple Duathlon (5K run, 33K bike, 5K run).

I'd never done a duathlon before and was slightly dreading having to start a race running instead of swimming but it turned out to be pretty fun. (Fun like, "In seven minutes, this will be all over and then you can drink a gallon of water and collapse on the hood of the Civic.") 

This race was a World Duathlon Championships qualifying race, so there were a ton of out-of-state competitors who'd flown in to compete. This resulted in an incredibly deep field, much tougher than normal. However, most people there weren't actually trying to qualify for this world championship, myself included.

That said, I feel quite proud to have placed 5th in my age group and 38th overall. Seriously, like half of the 37 women ahead of me were from other states! And I'm pretty sure you don't travel to a different state for a duathlon unless you plan to throw it down.

One of the trickiest parts of the race was avoiding drafting and blocking on the bike. Drafting is riding closer than two bike lengths to the person in front of you. Blocking is essentially what can happen when you're trying not to draft--if you're riding the same speed as someone else but are trying not to draft by riding a few body lengths to the left...and so potentially blocking people that are coming from behind from passing. 

Because the first run doesn't quite fan out people like a swim does in a tri, bikers of similar speeds can get bunched up on the course and have to play cat-and-mouse with each other (passing, then being passed, passing, etc.) to avoid drafting. This was the case for me--but no penalties received! Because I'm SO conscientious like that.

Both runs were the same loop and I felt GREAT coming off the bike, springy even, which is rare. I'd like to think it's because I "played the bike smart." Unfortunately Mile 3 of Run #2 was where I slowed down, which I attribute to post-Colorado training camp fatigue. I was on pace to match Run #1, but the 3rd mile must have been about 30 seconds slower! Ugh. It's hard to describe or rationalize. Next time I just need to dig a bit deeper and hang even tougher. Lesson learned!  

Micah also did well (5th in his age group), so we're 2-for-2 on matching age group placings! Maybe we can match the Guinness Book of World Records if we keep it up all season. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Manitou Springs

We made it! Our flight to Denver was really bumpy, but on time. Then seven (of 22) of us loaded into a Dodge Caravan rental and hit the road for Colorado Springs. Dinner at Savelli's (pepperoni & green olive calzones) and then a stop at Safeway for groceries. Turkey sandwiches and rice pudding for four days, here we come!

The weather is warm, clear, and sunny, and we're off for a 90' run at 9:30am, then a long bike ride up Cheyenne Mountain in the afternoon (with a starting elevation of 6500 ft!).

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Focus for May

I've decided I'm not going to be a smiley face abuser. 

At some point in the evolution of email/texting/IM, sideways faces :) :) ;) all over the place seems to be an unconscious response to the fact that words alone cannot always provide the context you'd have if you were talking in person. 

But wait! People communicated through written word long before the iPhone fell out of the sky, and I'm pretty sure there weren't a lot of telegrams that ended in :) :) :) How have we reached a point where this is fast becoming accepted punctuation in and of itself? I'm finding it to be unnecessary! 

Granted, I've been known to be a happy typer, and it's not like I have it out for anyone who tells me to have a nice day. I've used many a smiley face to add just a touch of softness to an otherwise bland work email and when I wanted people to like me. But like anything, marginal utility applies. When you start ending every sentence with a smiley face, where does it stop? It's like telling someone "I love you" every five minutes. 

So. What's a happy person to do? I'd say maybe just try to kick it old school and rediscover the time-honored beauties: . , ; ! ? I'm personally planning to really get back into the exclamation point. And limit myself to two smileys a week.

:) There's one.

Day of Moms!

Yesterday we DID UP Mother's Day. Proving yet again that brunch is not hard to choreograph if the cooking of bacon with hot grease flying is not involved.

Unfortunately it's hard to get a picture of the whole group when you're the host, but here are just a couple shots.

How cute are they? 

Or these kids? (Jon, the eyes! the eyes!)

And a picture of our new countertops! 
Fake wood, to you I say adieu.

We're off to Colorado Springs on Wednesday for P2 Camp--better known as RUN then BIKE then RUN/BIKE then BIKE/RUN then eat a gigantic calzone. I'm really looking forward to it. All the usual comedians will be there, and there's nothing like funny when you're doing a 2-hour run up a mountain! 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

His and Hers

First triathlon of the season! Who would have thought we'd walk away as 1st Place 20-29 Male (2nd overall) and 1st Place 20-29 Female (5th overall)? A couples first. 

It was a beautiful day to race. Early May is always iffy, but we got sun and somewhat warm temps! The pool swim was obviously not a variable in terms of warmth and it went according to plan. The bike went better than expected, and part of it was on a paved path with a tailwind, which meant FLYING! The other direction back facing the wind was a different story, but hey, it's what I've trained for. 

I seriously couldn't believe I heard someone say "she's fast" when I ran by during the run portion. I felt like I had cinder blocks on both feet. (Fairly common after riding a bike as hard as possible.) But I was just happy to be racing healthy! 

It's strange how many months of winter go by where you think about races coming up, and mainly how far away they seem. The next thing you know, it's almost WARM out and everything is in full swing! Love it! 

P.S. A big shoutout to hubs for getting written up in the Minnesota Tri News blog for his stellar performance!  


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just When You Thought He Couldn't Get Funnier

When he wants the chair, he wants the chair! 

I just realized this site has been a bit Gus-heavy lately. In human news, the first tri of the season is next weekend!! The Chain of Lakes sprint tri in Alexandria. The swim is in an indoor pool, and then you run outside and hop on the bike for 13 miles, following by a 3 mile run. Can't wait to race!! 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Threshold Met *in automated robot voice*

For those who work M-F on a standard schedule, Friday afternoons tend to fall in one of maybe three categories. 
1. Chomping at the bit to get out of the house/go shopping/DO THINGS.
2. Chomping at the bit to do stuff around the house. 
3. Shutdown - food/sitting/TV

Yesterday was definitely a shutdown.  

There are usually different specific triggers--this time I think it was detail overload, probably because I pack less for trips than I do for most weekdays.  

I know it's detail overload calling when I do something like leave my beloved new turquoise flip-flops in the locker room at AM swim. Like I'm ever going to see THOSE again! Yes, only $2 at Old Navy, but still. You think Old Navy carries any size 9s after April?? That injustice could be the subject of an entirely different post.

After getting home and walking through the door with a swim bag, black work tote full of power cords for the laptop I DON'T have with me, big purse, a damp handful of towel and swimsuit, two empty beverage containers, and an acquisition from a trip to Famous Footwear over lunch, the dining room table went from *clear* to *is there a table under there?* in two seconds flat. 

The following ensued. I picture it as the person running the track mile with shoes literally untying and flying off in the last 200 meters.

-Circled kitchen, eating random small amounts of several different foods (crackers, olives, sesame sticks, etc.).
-Sifted through 500+ countertop samples on 10lb. chains while Gus tried to figure out whether they were toys. 
-Thought about India AGAIN for the fiftieth time.
-Took Gus outside and sat on the concrete walkway with a Summit.
-Forcefully said "NO" about twenty times while Gus tried to lap up the puddle of pilsner from the bottle he knocked over amidst unbridled playtime glee. 
-Watched Gus completely lose interest in me once Dad rolled up. (Typical!)
-Ate copious amounts of cornbread and fried green beans at Longfellow Grill with Mr. Abigailius. Rolled ourselves out. 
-Turned on Entourage, cancelled appearance at Girls Night Out. 


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eggz 'n Such

Well well, another Easter has been had! We got to see the Little Lady today...and this time she was awake! Apparently her *favorite* toy is the monkey we got her at ahem FAO Schwartz in NYC. Apparently the light/dark contrast of maroon monkey body with white monkey belly is highly stimulating to a 5 week-old and it's the only toy she reacts to! Good thing we didn't get her that lame monochromatic monkey instead.

On Good Friday we decorated eggs with my fam, and once again we outdid ourselves with creativity--decoupage, crayon drawings, eggs bombarded with food coloring drops at various intervals to produce incredibly organic-looking colors...some even with veins! I think David even drew roller coasters and a ferris wheel on one...RANDOM!

We wrapped up the evening watching the French thriller "Tell No One," or Ne le dis a personne. And it really was thrilling. Though I swear French thrillers have more inconceivable plot twists than you'd think would be necessary for a film to be good. ("You mean she disappeared because Phillippe was harassing her dad and then HIS dad's disappearance was covered up because the son in-law was framed for the crime but then the person HE talked to was really the one who did it all? Got it.") Still recommended and you don't even have to speak French to appreciate it! 

Bon, je me couche ! 

Monday, March 23, 2009

First '09 Race in the Books

The race has been run! I finished in 36:26 (7:20 pace), which is a major improvement over last year (38:28), and I'm happy with it. I think I was the 65th woman out of 415. 

I know I said I was shooting for sub-36, but that was pretty speculative. Knowing how I felt out there, I don't think I could have done much better on a different day for this early in the season. 

Hubs and G-man cheered me on and took some photos! 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What's Going On

It's March! It's almost April! What am I thinking about? (In no order.)

-Succumbed to my inner voice and purchased Vogue: Homes, Gardens, People. Twenty pounds of decorative bliss in my lap. 

-Reading Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story. At first it seemed like a great gift for someone, but at the risk of perpetuating pre-existing office job disdain in anyone, decided the best recipient was ME! 

-Finally started Suite Francaise, which a co-worker gave me for my birthday a few years ago. Usually I'm not into fiction, but this is historical fiction about the occupation of France during WWII--a subject I'm more and more fascinated by. The most compelling thing is that the author was a Russian Jew who was furiously writing the book in the French countryside in the months leading up to Nazi invasion, and the hidden manuscript--including her additional notes on the book--was found like eight years ago for the first time, decades after she died at Auschwitz. It's so well-written and pretty poignant.

-The Human Race 8K is today on Summit Avenue at 1:20pm! 

Last year I finished in 38:32. This year, a great race would mean sub-36. I've been really excited to race anything, since my last race was the Twin Cities Marathon, and there are five solid months of training between then and now! 

The English Language: 
-I'm always amazed by the innovation and relevance of the English language. The Star Tribune used the word boomlet last week to describe the "mini baby boom of 2008-2009." And the word friend has become a verb, thanks to Facebook. Only in English.

I love Solid Gold. Period. The best music to come out of Minnesota since the Jayhawks...but it's a different genre, so it's hard to compare them. I just love that these guys are from HERE! Their music is so transcendent. One song is pure modern Paris and everything else is like one big city under a starry night. Yikes--it makes me poetic! 

I'm also loving "Heads Will Roll" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And Reggie & The Full Effect, just for kicks. Picture 80s mustaches and bad pants...and hilarious lyrics. This has been standard drive-to-the-cabin music for the past few summers, but I finally uploaded the CD to iTunes so I can have them whenever! 

The health-oriented committee I'm on at work brought in a woman to talk about self-care and homeopathy, and it was so thought-provoking!  Her message was so simple ("You basically know deep down what is right for your body--be it rest, food, etc."). 

She presented some homeopathic stress-relief items like Rescue Remedy and Cold Calm and essential oils, and I think people could really benefit from natural stuff like this instead of pumping their bodies full of unpronounceable chemicals because they think it's the only option out there. I headed straight to a co-op to find a few things she mentioned--and who knows? Might as well try them! 

But above all, her message about general healthcare was timely. Here and perhaps worldwide, an overwhelming percentage of illness is caused by stress in one way or another (emotional, bodily, or both). Not just "Oh, I'm so stressed out!" but our bodies saying "I am straining to do what you want me to," be it process junk food, substitute caffeine for sleep, inhale tobacco, etc. 

If we take better ownership of the stress management piece, could we benefit long-term as a society? Probably.  

That's all I've got! Time to get ready to pound out five solid miles on Summit! 

Monday, February 23, 2009

The 25 Random Things

I'm just going to go ahead and buy into this one. Three cheers for oversharing.

Here are my 25 random things:
1. I couldn't whistle until I was 23. 
2. I've been up in a hot air balloon. 
3. When I'm in Europe, people always ask me if I'm German or Swiss.
4. Speaking of which, I once spent an entire afternoon with some French students before they realized I wasn't from Berlin. 
5. I've crossed the entire United States by Amtrak. 
6. I bruise easily.
7. The only time I ever like yogurt these days is after swimming. 
8. My Mac white book has one black key.
9. My first pets were hermit crabs - Elsie and Marley.
10. There is a grand piano in my living room and I LOVE it. 
11. I never bought into the poncho fad. 
12. I have been to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto.
13. I have run over two squirrels while driving--and both times it was a total shocker. 
14. Romania is my current #1 want-to-go destination.
15. The only Tim Horton's I've ever been to was in Weirton, West Virginia, on a road trip with my sisters and mom.
16. My to-go restaurant is Sapor.  
17.  I live next door to a YouTube star. 
18. I now do not understand how I ever liked anything blue raspberry flavored. 
19. In first grade, I was so honest that when I found a nickel on the playground during recess, I turned it in to Lost and Found. (And a week later, they gave me the unclaimed nickel.)
20. I can count to twenty in German.
21. French Canadians at work have called me both Abiquail and Miguel. Talk about name mangling!
22. For my height, my feet should be bigger than they are.
23. I was never more tan than when I worked at the St. Louis Park pool during college.
24. I've tried black pudding, conch, goat, and natto (fermented soybean paste).  And would only have the conch or goat ever again!
25. In 2nd grade, I ran the mile in gym class in 11:58.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

He's Growing Up So Fast!

Whose birthday is in one week? G-Man's!!

Well, the weekend has gotten off to a smashing start. After Longfellow Grill last night, there were many intentions of doing typical weekend evening activities like watching movies, making coffee, and generally being productive to some degree, but in a decompressed way. 

But that all got scratched when someone said "Let's just lie down for a few minutes." One hour later, the sleeping hog pile (including Gus) awoke at 9:30pm, brushed teeth, and reconvened Sleep Session 2009. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fer Pete's Sake

My thoughts exactly, Mark.
Photo from the non-winter archives

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One Question

How did the settlers survive here?! 

I can't even cross a parking lot without mittens lately. 

Well, it was another fabulous weekend at Casa del Turmano, even though it was free-ee-ee-zing. We have a special guest till next Saturday or so--the Soph-Meister! (The in-law's golden retriever...who I believe typically goes by Sophie.) 

Gus and Sophie are getting along great, even though their perspectives on what are reasonable/unreasonable speeds at which to be operating vary somewhat. (Gus: one of those little hand-held fans on high; Sophie: the occasional tradewind.) 

Ginger has spent the entire weekend out of view.

Muffy, David, and I got together yesterday. We were supposed to hit up the Omnitheater, but changed our plans and headed to the Riverview for the $2 showing of Bolt. Pretty sure 75% of the audience was under the age of ten, but hey, we had fun! 

Before the movie we stopped to see frozen Minnehaha Falls, which right now is so frozen, it's blue. Unfortunately all the stairways to the bottom are closed because they're nothing but solid ice blocks, but that didn't stop David from making a little visit to the wild side....

Fun times, fun times. I'll leave you with three thoughts because I'm two shakes of a lamb's tail from hitting the pillow.

1. If you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire, go see it because you'll probably enjoy it. 
2. I just got over 500 additional photos of Colombia via my traveling partners! Will share. 
3. David is now as tall as me...uff da.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not For the Faint of Heart

2pm Saturday, it went down. 

Ginger had an appointment at the "dentist." 

You must understand, there are about eight million things I'd rather do. But thanks to the laying on of guilt from a certain veterinarian, I did it. I brushed my cat's teeth. 

I consider this the cost-effective version of protecting our ferocious mountain lion from the effects of gingivitis. Cost-effective compared to putting her under anesthesia for a clinic version that would cost ten times what we paid for her. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm an animal lover and I CARE, but I also want to be able to afford to eat. Hence the purchase of a cat toothbrush...and the burden of following through on using it. I put off dental duty as long as possible, but eventually the conscience gave in. 

In the end, though, Ginger was a total champ about it and proved there was no need for Micah to be wearing the oven mitts he put on to protect himself in the role of cat hold-er down-er. And who knew we'd come across some technical writing at its best in the process! (See below.) 

Exhibit A - the lovely lady

Exhibit B - kitten model stricken with fear

Exhibit C - How To

 Step 1: "Begin by gently massaging your cat until your cat is relaxed." 
Ginger has been known to attack when relaxed AND purring.

Step 2: "Once your cat is relaxed, squeeze a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and allow your cat to taste it." 
That could take hours. Hmm...apparently not if you put some on her nose.

Step 3: Now that your cat has accepted the toothpaste, proceed." 
Will she tell me when she's accepted it? 

Step 4: Gently brush teeth with short strokes. 
Absolutely the only kind possible, if we're being honest. 

So anyway, I finally got to check this off the to-do list. YES!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The January Soundtrack

What I'm listening to now. Some new, some old, some perhaps "out," but it's the beat that counts. And maybe, just maybe, I've heartily sung along to many of these in the car. 
  • Mirrorball - Elbox
  • Time to Pretend - MGMT
  • Coffee - Aesop Rock
  • L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold
  • Live For Tomorrow - Moby
  • Mykonos - Fleet Foxes
  • Everybody Here is a Cloud - Cloud Cult (an acquired taste)
  • Annie Waits- Ben Folds
  • Everything - Murs
  • Bruises - Chairlift
  • Banquet - Bloc Party
  • Spiderwebs - No Doubt (Takes me back to 8th grade!)
When it comes to music, I'm a genre jumper. If it sounds cool, I don't really care if it's rap or polka or John Tesh. At some point in the last few months, I seem to have developed a penchant for "underground MCs," or at least some of that kind of rap. **Insert amused husband reaction here** Can you imagine me at an underground MC show?? No you can't and neither can I! But some of it is really catchy and I'll be singing along on my way to work, just like that guy in Office Space! 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter. You love it.

It's amazing how one day you can be sitting in an open air living room somewhere warm, drinking something fruity out of a coconut, and the next, you're dressed in multiple layers of black spandex, suited up for a run in sub-zero temps and hoping you don't get frostbite. 

But oh well, buckle down and charge ahead! (Said a Scandinavian on the news once.) I'm not going to get down about the ice block that is January-February-March. Instead I'll think about all the great things about living in Minnesota. 

A few: 
1. No cockroaches, mosquitos, or gigantic reptiles
2. When snow clings to every tree, branch, bush, pretty! 
3. You can run an extra errand after grocery shopping because you don't have to worry about the dairy products or frozen foods in your trunk
4. Not having to put sunscreen all over yourself every time you go outside
5. How fruit I take to work gets nicely chilled after an hour in the parking lot at morning swim practice
6. Speaking of #5, winter = the best oranges. Don't know why. Living in MN isn't actually the reason for this one, but it's a major seasonal snack highlight for me. 

So yes, I love going places where the weather is warm, but I'm pretty sure I was meant to represent the C-O-L-D. It kind of grows on you...once you've got the right boots. (And yes, I did take the flip flops off before I went outside.) 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mona Lisa's Mystery Brother

Look at this man. Is there not something odd going on here? 

Saving museums for the last day in Cartagena wasn't the greatest idea. Several marathon late nights under my belt--the kind only possible near the equator--make me totally apathetic towards history. I was literally dragging myself across the floor, doing the whole "I need to sit down" thing. But then I saw this guy and was like, "Wah?" 

My question: is the droopy eye on purpose? Or a nasty joke? (This was in the Museum of the Inquisition, after all.) Here's the thing. Even if this supposedly distinguished man did have a droopy eye, don't you think they'd paint a glorified version of him? Another thing making this hard for me is that I turned a corner and there was a picture of a DIFFERENT guy with a droopy eye. I obviously haven't done my research. Maybe it was genetic. Does anyone know? 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Que Perfecto!

Back from Colombia! What a great trip. Cartagena is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. The country has to be one of the world's Best Kept Secrets of travel--inexpensive with beautiful architecture, friendly people, fresh seafood galore...and tons of sun. Throw in a superlatively glamorous wedding with the chance to wear a dress fancier than what I wore to high school prom, a Spanish-speaking friend, and NO travel issues, and you get a trip you'll be talking about for a long time.