Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flashback - Nuits-St-Georges

Back when I was a student and in France, one day I took a spontaneous trip to the next town south, Nuits-St-Georges, for an afternoon. 

The train ticket guy eyed me suspiciously when I asked to purchase these three items at the same time: 

1. A ticket to Baden Baden, Germany to leave in two days
2. A ticket to Lausanne to leave in nine days
3. A ticket to the neighboring town on the next available train

On the lam, surely. 

In truth, I was trying to see as many little pockets of Europe as I could in the time I had. Before you leave for a big trip somewhere, you have this idea that you're going to go everywhere. But as a student, it was almost scary how a certain complacency started to take over once the reality of how much things cost set in, on a student budget. But before you know it, there you are, in France, not seeing everything you set out to. And that to me was intolerable.

In revolt of this I marched down Rue Sambin one day after class in October and made my way through the square up to the gare, ready to "go somewhere." And preferably alone since any accompaniment would surely add complication and concession. I strode up to the ticket counter, trying my best to prepare myself for the rapid fire 24-hour clock available train times that the ticket guy would doubtlessly fire at me the moment I squeaked "One round trip ticket!", after which I would most likely then stand there silently for at least four seconds while trying to do the math in my head and remind myself that yes, once again and forevermore, 19 hours means 7pm. Sorry, I didn't grow up on a military base. 

At any rate, once the transactions were completed he uttered one bon voyage for three tickets, and I was off to Nuits-St-Georges in 12 minutes. 

Nuits-St-Georges is the northern end of the Bourgogne wine region, or the Cote d'Or, just south of Dijon. If you look for French wines in the US, you will often find bottles with this town's name on them.

Here is the lovely little main street scene with its Burgundian rooftops adorned with stars and other green, yellow, and red designs. I stopped for a kir in the Cafe de Paris.

As I was walking around the town, there were all sorts of beautiful fall colors in the vines and trees and surrounding hillsides, but I was kind of annoyed with myself for not doing any research on the town or seeking out anything in it specifically. It felt like there was no one around and that maybe it was a little in vain just to show up somewhere and expect something but not really know what. I had only given myself a few hours to explore before I needed to head back to Dijon. 

On my way back to the train station I paused for a moment to take in a quaint looking handwritten sign advertising local businesses. At that moment, two elderly Frenchmen came strolling down the sidewalk and along past the sign. They completely fit into the scene and before I knew what I was saying I blurted out "Est-ce je peux prendre votre photo?" I fully expected them to say "No, you CANNOT take our photo, mademoiselle!" and immediately wished I hadn't asked. Instead, smiles spread across their faces and they nodded and exclaimed "Bah oui!"One of them licked his hand to smooth back his few remaining hairs with a look of self-conscious concern, and the other adjusted his vest and collar. I assured them "No, please, you're perfect like that. Please just stand right where you are." 

One click, one perfect picture. Then they continued on and back into their lives. This, as it turned out, was the one perfect moment that I came to Nuits-St-Georges for. 

I never got their names, but to me they are clearly Maurice and Jacques.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Making Coffee

Zanna is really into our Keurig. She frequently tells me I need to make coffee for myself. (Smart girl!)

Sometimes she likes to press the buttons, but mostly she just likes to watch it all unfold. And I don't think a cup of coffee has ever been so rooted for. Might as well be sweet baby Jesus at the end!

Waiting patiently... 

It's making noise and coffee's coming out... 

"A CUP OF COFFEE!! Aaaaaaah!!!"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

At the Skate Park in Red Oak

A few weeks ago we headed down to the southwest corner of Iowa to visit some family. One afternoon we sauntered over to the local playground, but Z was pretty ho-hum about it. Swings? Eh.

But just adjacent was the Red Oak Skate Park, and that's where the fun ensued.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flying a Kite in Iowa

Nothing too shabby about that!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

8 Pieces of Advice That Actually Resonated

Lately I've been thinking a lot about something I heard. It said that this generation takes in more media and messaging in 72 hours than our grandparents did at our age in an entire YEAR.  Imagine this for a second!

This influx of information is neither wholly good nor bad but both. Good, because it can make us so informed and entertained, bad because it's just a lot, all the time, never stops. And in that is a lot of advice, much of which starts to sound recycled after a while. ("Shoot for the moon!") Please.

But every so often I come across something that actually resonates and challenges me to think differently. Here are a few of those...which I'm sharing through--surprise!--social media:

Perfection is the enemy of good enough. And also not a real thing but an illusion.

Progress is not a straight line. Maybe in the CliffsNotes version of someone's story, but generally not beyond that.

Sometimes you just have to buckle down and charge ahead.
-Guy on 10pm news being interviewed on losing his house in a tornado.

To define is to limit. Let some things just be what they are instead of trying to measure or categorize them.

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. 
-Seth Godin

The mind is not just in your head but the space between cells. Everything you think and experience is recorded in your body one way or another; take care of yourself and do not underestimate the power of your thoughts.
-to paraphrase Dr. Christiane Northrup

If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?

We choose what we have time for. So don't say you don't have enough time.
-Me and probably many other people

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I wore these bracelets to work this week. I still love them as much as the day I got them.

They are the first thing Micah ever bought me, from the Lula vintage store on Selby in St. Paul. I was in my first week of my senior year at St. Thomas in September. I strolled down Cretin to Micah's place on St. Clair after my world religions class on south campus, and out of the blue he gave me these. 

We'd only been seeing each other for about a week and I thought it was the coolest gift ever... and I knew I had something really good going on. I love wearing them to work now and thinking about that. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Into Fall

It's amazing how much can change in a few short months of summer when you're a little kid.

Zanna started the summer barely able to get up on her push trike but now hops on and steers appropriately, insisting we never turn around, so we go around the block a lot. She seems to have twice the ability to do what she could last summer and repeats everything we say. "What color is that car? 'An-thra-cite' "!

Over the summer she has started talking up a storm. From the moment she wakes up it's nonstop. More and more of what she says is starting to make sense. Though "musberries" took a while to decipher. Raspberries.

Favorite phrases include:

"IT'S WORKING!" which refers either to anything that's moving/changing/going, or to her realization that her plans for world domination are continuing to unfold.

"MYYYYYYYYYYY!" indicating unambiguous ownership.

"Bye __________." Including "Bye, other way" when walking in the opposite direction.

"Do you need a Band-Aid?"

Also: "I have a dirty diaper. It's gonna be all right."

We finished off the summer with two busy weeks. I traveled internationally for work, which sounds glamorous but nonetheless included being lost in a cab at 2am in Toronto's equivalent of Eden Prairie with my colleagues (sleeping mouth agape) and a girl from Argentina who really had to pee, and a cab driver with no idea where we were. Sweet. I had to negotiate not paying him 120 Canadian dollars for how long it took to get us from downtown Toronto to our corporate suburban Hilton. According to the standard, it should only have cost 65.

Aside from that, however, the trip was great. I met a ton of my international co-workers and we ate dinner at the top of the CN Tour and did the Maid of the Mist tour at Niagara Falls. It felt so...Canadian. I also bought the kind of maple sugar candies you can get as souvenirs but then just ate them as a snack.

Once back in Minnesota, we took the bus to the State Fair. Zanna was into the cows and horses, and then we had some fair food. I had grilled shrimp on a stick and refused to give any to my famished child on the offchance that she's allergic to shellfish. We got her a smoothie and a pretzel, and she seemed to appreciate that the fair had "pan" (bread) for her, one of her main sources of sustenance.

After the fair we went up north to the Grandview Lodge for my aunt and uncle's 40th anniversary dinner. We had dinner in the cutest little yellow cottage restaurant and Zanna was an angel. The only injury (since there had to be at least one) was when she walked her forehead straight into a side table. Brief screaming.

The next morning she insisted on drinking coffee with Micah ("It's delicious!"). What we gave her was pretty much 1 tbsp. of coffee with 2 tbsp. of water. So delicious.

Then we continued our family vacation time by heading to Duluth. We feasted on Mexican food with my brother David in his college town and watched Zanna positively love on the Pack N Play the hotel put in the room. Like, she just wanted to be put in it and exist in that space.

We stayed in Canal Park and did the whole lighthouse-seagulls-Park Point thing which I always love.

At this point, we should have known this is about as much novelty as one toddler can take before she just wants to get home and rule her normal world again.

But we pressed on.

To Bayfield and Madeline Island. We took the car ferry to LaPointe and Zanna shrieked "IT'S WORKING!" once every ten seconds for the 20-minute trip. We rented a little cabin near Chebomnicon Bay and my first squeal of delight was when I found that they had a copy of Austin Powers on DVD. Though we ultimately turned it down in favor of a head to head Scrabble tournament.

The first excursion from the cabin was Big Bay State Park, at which point we had a child way overdue for a nap. We walked down the beach and Zanna seemed preoccupied with whether the waves coming up the shore were "safe" or "not safe." In the end we headed back to the cabin and proceeded to experience Nap Fail #1. Too much new stuff to process = sleep not possible.

On to dinner we went in LaPointe at Beach Club. They had great burgers. Zanna wolfed down an entire grilled cheese and then fake played the race car video games. We ran into my sister's in-laws in the restaurant (they live there), and I would say that the general poise Zanna displayed for them was pretty much the last general poise we got for a while. *Toddler Overstimulated*

The rest of our Madeline Island stay was nice. It's a beautiful island. Even though Zanna probably woke up the entire town when I tried unsuccessfully to tear her away from a park at 8:30am, on the whole it was a lovely experience being on a true island, which is a rare experience for landlocked Midwesterners.

Because we didn't know better, we went back to Bayfield and took Zanna on a 3.5 hour glass bottom boat tour through the Apostle Islands, at times with 5-6 ft. waves. we probably would have reconsidered if we hadn't been talking about doing this for months.

The high waves precluded the standard glass bottom boat itinerary and so we were treated to a combo of what they would normally do, plus sea caves and lighthouses. It was incredible scenery and we were in some seriously remote locales. We got to see the Fedora shipwreck which stands in about 12 feet of water, as well of all of the undercut sea caves on the islands farthest out--where Zanna insisted the hippos lived.

Luckily the boat was really loud and drowned out the crying we were afraid might bother the other people. Overall Zanna did well and even napped a bit, but I was on edge the entire time waiting for our luck to run out. (Not my best Law of Attraction moment.)

For the last 30 minutes of the boat ride Zanna screamed, probably bored out of her mind, to the extent that the patriarch of an Indian family with an impressive collection of children who got their crying out of the way earlier on offered us a piece of melty Kit Kat and instructed us to "Just stick it in her mouth" to see if she'd stop crying. She didn't.

The second we got off the boat she stopped. I'm not sure if she was a little seasick, though on the whole that didn't seem an obvious possibility. I enjoy the honesty of her post-voyage expression:

Once home, she asked for peas for breakfast. Goes to show that the break from routine that adults crave in their vacations is less than refreshing for little kids in large doses. Or maybe it's just the long car rides. But if we just sat at home and never did anything, what fun would that be?