Monday, April 30, 2007

running and weeding

We ran a whopping 11.2 miles on Sunday morning in preparation for the Vancouver half-marathon coming up this weekend (13 miles). It was a very painful run on Sun and I'm still suffering from it today. I'm still not totally over my cold, and we only ran 7 miles last weekend. Thank goodness it was gorgeous outside or I never could have done it. Plus my Studly Hubby cheered me on the whole way. Somehow he ran the whole 11.2 miles without complaint and then partied well into the night afterwards working on job applications. Not me, I passed out on the couch for a while, then went outside to look at all the weeds in the flowerbed, pulled a few up, then decided that was too hard and came back inside to the couch.

Right before I went to bed (at 8 pm) the Studly Hubby started talking puppies. No matter how tired a girl is, puppies will always get her excited. I couldn't get to sleep after that due to the various puggles and cockapoos floating about my head. I ended up reading a really sad book to try to calm me down: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (this month's book club book). It's a very beautiful book, but full of very sad things. At least so far. Why aren't there more funny authors out there? Is it that there is a small audience for funny books, or is it just too hard to write funny (and easier instead to write sad)? I have low tolerance for sad subject matter, but I must read this book so I can go to book club and discuss with everyone how sad it was. And eat the amazing treats that are given out there.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

April Flowers!

April rocks for a number of reasons, but one is definitely the flowers. Even here in Seattle, where things stay green all year around, April brings abundant color and even more green growth than usual. I returned from my trip to the midwest to find flowers all around me.

A bouquet of flowers my Studly Hubby picked up for me - what a Studly guy!





Along our sidewalk outside of our door a bunch of blue somethings popped up, and across the way some red things appeared on our holly tree (yes, they have actual live holly growing here - it's like a weed!). We also have a bunch of things in our front yard that were identified by our new neighbor as rosemary, peppermint, a rose bush, and yellow and blue flowers. I bought some seeds to plant but didn't get them in the ground soon enough - so maybe I'll just try my hand at weeding this year and see how that goes. Another neighbor came over today as I was taking these pictures and made a rude comment about the state of our yard - I think she might have been implying that we could do something about it - I'm a little angry but maybe a little motivated too. Working on the yard would definitely be a way to enjoy the nice weather we have here, and somebody at some time planted our yard full of pretty things that just are just waiting to be uncovered so they can really grow.



A new bud on our ever-surviving rose bush - the bush is as tall as I am! I can't wait for it to bloom.

Ode to the Camry (again)


I've mentioned on this blog several times my deep love for my 1989 Toyota Camry. We are good friends, and she has served me well through several trying times (for one, the Great Swim of '05). Well, the Camry is heading out to Camry Heaven this week - the clutch went out and the frame is about to rust into oblivion, and it's just not worth it anymore. So this blog post serves as a Memorial to my Beloved Camry (thanks Mom and K for letting me down easy with the news).

Top ten reasons I love my '89 Toyota Camry:

1. Everyone or their brother or their mom has an '89 Toyota Camry, and is loyally in love with them, so I can be part of this sort of Camry-loving cult family
2. It was the no.2 stolen car in 2004 (following the 1995 Honda Civic), so even the car thieves love it
3. The parts of a mint-condition 1989 Toyota Camry are worth nearly $14,000 (which explains why the car thieves love it)
4. MY '89 Toyota Camry had a trick clutch so not even the most cunning car thieves (or the most well-intentioned mechanics) could get her started - just me, and my Studly Hubby, and my Studly Brother who has been baby-sitting for the past year, and my step-dad who has always been good at things like that
5. Even though this Camry had been to the Brink and back with 200,000 miles she could still start in the middle of a -20F Minnesota winter - now that's service!
6. With her Studly Studded Snow Tires she could plow through even the worst-weather conditions - I swore she was even better than a 4 wheel-drive SUV!
7. Whomever she was toting around she treated with dignity - my Studly Brother, my Studly Hubby, and... well, nobody else because nobody else could start her
8. She deflected all sorts of disaster - an attempted trunk break-in, a heavy-duty flood-dunking, the crack addicts on our block, and the Great Road Salt of the midwest
9. She took excellent care of me during my formative years (high school through grad school - 12 years!)
10. We've had her since she was a BABY! And she was ONE GREAT CAR...!

To quote a previous post, here is why an old car is so priceless:
I can bop up onto a curb, run into a street sign, drive into a ditch, get keyed on the street, get my trunk busted into, leave it unlocked at night (which may prevent getting the trunk busted into again), and run into it with a shopping cart... all with the worry-free attitude of an old car owner. Plus I pay less in car insurance because if I wreck it I sure won't fix it.

Is that unbeatable or what?

We sure love you, Ms. Camry! You have been a great shining red light in our life.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Still SICK!

Friday's here and I'm still sick (happy Friday everyone!) despite a maximum effort to do nothing every night this week. I sure am enjoying our new couch, but let me tell you, it's frustrating to fall so far behind on everything. Fortunately the Studly Hubby is on top of it, and washed some of the laundry (we were both running out of underware!) and did some dishes, and has been making dinner. He even went out and bought cough syrup for me on Wednesday night. But the laundry isn't getting put away, and the birthday thank-you cards still haven't gone out, and I even forgot to call my Dad on his birthday (sorry dad!). The mere effort of talking is putting me into a coughing fit. I've learned that if I cut back to about 1/10 effort at work I can still accomplish a few things (and make a face appearance for all the seminars and meetings we have). I've been going in obnoxiously late and leaving obnoxiously early every day (the luxury of having a 'flexible schedule'). I'm sharing a bench with a visiting post-doc this week and it occurred to me this morning that she must think I'm a lazy-butt. Oh well. Maybe all the coughing I've been doing clued her in. I'm wondering if I had taken a day totally off maybe that would have sped up the recovery - I always have a hard time judging that.

The hit to our half-marathon training is what's bothering me the most. We're up for another long-distance run sometime this weekend, and we skimped out on the last one (although still got in 8 miles - but that was a few miles short of what I really wanted to do). I need to be all better for the final training run this weekend so we can do our goal distance of 10-11 miles. Plus I skipped running all the rest of this week so I'm not even doing our short runs (although I may try one today). I'm still walking in to work and back so I can say I moved my legs a little but I'm afraid I'm slipping backwards on the training - not good when you're a week and a half away from the big race.

Blah! I hate being sick.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

An Onion Story


When I was little, I didn't like onions but I didn't know it. Certain dishes just didn't sit right with me; spaghetti, meatloaf, pot pies, and I always assumed I just didn't like the dish (although I didn't always consistently hate these dishes) - I figured out when I was much older, and my Studly Hubby suggested one day that maybe I didn't like onions (what a revelation! how can a person just not like some kind of food when all food has always been so good?), that it was onions I didn't like, not the dishes. Actually it was more complex than that - a few years later I found myself mysteriously hating a tuna fish sandwich I had ordered (I normally LOVE tuna fish sandwiches!), and he suggested there may be onions in it - right then and there I had my second revelation; I hate onions, AND the dishes that might contain them.

Well tonight I had a third revelation while I was eating some Chipotle (good ole' Chipotle). Normally I order fajita burritos and pluck out all the onions. Tonight there was some sour cream and cheese hanging off one of the onions and I couldn't resist but to stick the onion in my mouth and get that good food off of it. While the onion was in my mouth I realized, hey! that tastes pretty good! and I chomped it up and swallowed it down. So what was that all about? It turns out, I think I was cutting all onions out of my life when it was just the raw ones I didn't like (or the less cooked ones). Hmmmm....

Tulips!

We fought off busy schedules, sickness and the threat of rain to head up to Mt Vernon WA this past weekend and participate in the Tulip Festival (which takes place during the whole month of April). It was totally beautiful, I would recommend it to anyone. The only bad thing was, tulips are a crop (they crop them for the bulbs), and we got there just days after most of the tulip tops had been cut off all of the crop fields - so the only uncropped tulips left were the demonstration fields (shown in the pictures). These were still beautiful, and I can't imagine how much more beautiful it would be to have fields and fields more of them. It was one of those places where no matter what you point your camera out you will take a beautiful picture.

One Sick Day Throws My Whole Game Off

I returned from another Great Midwest Tour last week only to fall ill within 24 hrs of my arrival and have to lie around on our new couch all day Saturday blowing my nose. I got through one and a half seasons of Sex and the City and half an O! the Oprah Magazine but other than that was pretty unproductive. By Sunday I was already getting better so we went to the Tulip Festival as previously planned (pictures will be coming soon, hang tight, they're really good) but then yesterday I realized I had blown my one chance to get unpacked from the trip, send out thank-you cards for my birthday presents, get some laundry done, get our long training run in, post on my blog, etc since I usually get so sucked in to the work week I can't get anything done once Monday rolls around. The training run was necessary since the half-marathon is in less than two weeks so we went out last night after work and ran 8 miles (although we walked the last mile but I'm still going to count it). I think that's by far the longest I've ever run on a weeknight and I considered that a major accomplishment. It's very tricky running on a weeknight - around mile 7 I crashed because I hadn't had any dinner and then when we got home I was really dehydrated but didn't have enough time to re-hydrate before bedtime. But at least we got something done. This next weekend we are going to run 10 miles! Then 13 the weekend after for the Big H-M in Vancouver.

So hopefully the rest of the week I can slowly get a few things done to make up for being sick this weekend. I'm posting on my blog right now, so that's something!

Thanks to all I visited in the Great Midwest last week for hosting me or visiting me during a fantastic trip. I'm really glad I could go and see each of you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

To Iowa, St. Louis, and BEYOND

We flew to Iowa last Thursday, spent the weekend there, and then I went on to St. Louis for a conference while the Studly Hubby headed back to Seattle. After the conference I took the lightrail (MetroLink) to the airport and a shuttle from the airport out to small-town Illinois to visit my Dad. Considering my trip was so complicated I was very impressed with myself for making it to the final leg (which is where I am now). I am getting a bit tired though. The conference, especially, wore me out. I gave a talk (which turned out GREAT) and had been expending a lot of energy and anxiety over it, so afterwards I sort of crashed. Plus it was in a new field for me, so I had to focus extra hard to practice the talk TO DEATH and while I was at the conference I wanted to seek out certain key people that I wanted to meet, talk to them about their projects, and think about all the new subjects etc. It was a big step forward though and will pave the way for an easier time at my next conference.

Now I am back on the path towards enjoying the slower pace of small-town Midwest living. Here you never have to commute more than 10 minutes, you know half the people you pass, yards are large, cost of living is low, and rich and poor alike all shop at the local Kroger grocery store. Don't get me wrong, I like Seattle a lot too, but this sort of life is also appealing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Numi!

My mom's new dog is VERY cute. His name is actually Numi, I got it wrong in an earlier post. We spent lots of time taking pictures so I could be sure to put them up on my blog and so we would have a good documentation of his puppy-hood. For the record, he is a Tibetan Terrier and he is about 15 weeks. He is expected to get to about 20 lbs (he is around 14 lbs now).

"What book are we reading today mom?"



"This book is boring - just skip to the end!"



"My chicken toy and I are good pals, I like to keep him nearby so I can chew on him whenever necessary"


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Celebratin' in STYLE

I'm Celebratin' in Style today by going to book club - this week it's Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. It was kind of a weird book but I did enjoy it.

I may also head out of work a little early this afternoon (shhh!) although I'm guessing that I'll still be working on my talk for Monday and reading some papers tomorrow on the plane ride to Iowa. I gave a practice talk yesterday for my lab and it went well although it got picked apart for about two hours - which is a little long considering it was only a 15 minute talk. But I got a lot of good tips and we went into a long tangent discussing the scope and goals of my project in general so it was all good. Then at the very end my boss gave me some rare, high praise that sent me floating back to the lab swelled with self-pride - now THAT was a good birthday surprise! Plus my co-workers brought birthday cake to my lab meeting so I had a nice sugar-high on top of it all.

My Studly Hubby has been busy as a bee cooking fancy food for me and finishing up a neat-o shot for his animation job applications to send out before we leave for Iowa. It looks like he may actually get it all done, too. I seriously doubt he'll go to book club with me since the only fiction he's read since I've known him is Harry Potter, so I'm encouraging him to go get a haircut tonight while I'm at book club. I don't want his mummy and daddy thinking he's not getting taken care of out here so far away from home.

In celebration of my birthday, and because a co-worker mentioned it on Monday (she had a bout of food poisoning from it) I bought some fancy cheese from the slightly-fancy grocery store on Tuesday and ate way too much of it last night. The kind I bought had been aged in a cave in England so I thought that sounded promising. It was quite good, too.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to ME!

It's my birthday on Wednesday, so to celebrate my Studly Hubby whipped up a big Studly Easter/Birthday dinner on Sunday that was quite a masterpiece. He made pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, and flan. The flan was very complicated - it turns out you are supposed to make caramel first, put it in the bottom of the pan, then make the custard and put that on the top. The first batch of caramel was perfect, but hardened too fast in the glass pan and broke it (it shattered all over the place!). The second batch didn't turn out - for fear of breaking another pan, the Studly Hubby was a little off on the timing and didn't quite get the caramel to form. The third batch worked out, but by then he had switched to an aluminum cake pan so nothing broke and he could continue on with the custard part. Then when you bake it you have to put it in a 'waterbath' which is basically a bigger pan filled with water and a towel. I was afraid THAT would break and we would have a catastrophe on the inside of our oven, but all went well. The flan was delicious, but the Studly Hubby thought it was a little too 'eggy' so handed over the leftovers to me to finish all on my own. I may have to run another nine miles this week.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New puppy!

My mom just bought a new puppy - a Tibetan Terrier named Nemu. We will get to see him this week when we go to Iowa! Shown is a picture of the puppy with his brothers and sisters. Hopefully when I get back I'll have more good pictures to post.

Around and Around Green Lake

We are thick in the middle of training for a half-marathon that we are going to do in May in Vancouver, so yesterday we ran NINE miles (1 hr 45 minutes). So far we have been training by running around Green Lake (pictured below):

Green Lake is about one mile from our apartment, so we run there, run around it once, then run back to get 5 miles. Then for 7 miles we ran there, ran around it twice, and then walked back and for 8 miles we did the same except we ran back. Now that we're logging higher mileages I proposed we find a new route but after considering our many hilly options we went again for the relatively flat route of Green Lake - and ran around it three times. So now we've run around Green Lake a total of 8 times since we've started training for this half-marathon. We are becoming The Champions of Green Lake. The funny thing is, when you run around and around Green Lake as we have done you pass other people that are doing the same thing, but in the opposite direction. Sometimes people going in the same direction even pass you multiple times (we are pretty slow). It's a really good lake for running around and around because it's full of interesting people and their funny dogs and now that it's April everything is blooming, too. Plus did I mention that it's pretty flat?

So today we are recovering from our NINE mile run yesterday, and my Studly Hubby is cooking up a big Easter dinner while I read some papers and work on my talk that I'm presenting next week in St. Louis. I'm practicing the talk for my lab on Tuesday so wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

RECOVERY week

The last three weeks have been pretty jam-packed with fun so this week I'm finding myself all worn out. On Monday I stayed home - I spent the day analyzing data from all my experiments last week and then took advantage of being home and slept in and ran a few errands. Every night I've been trying to go to bed early and I've cut way back on my agenda at work this week. But how does one 'speed up' the recovery process? I'm not sure it's possible. To make matters worse, lots of people around me are sick so I'm afraid I'm fighting off a disease (or two), which may explain why I'm so totally tired. So I'm drinking lots of tea, taking Vitamin C, and trying to eat healthy and get lots of rest (I'm pretty good at doing this stuff anyway). Hopefully it'll work and I won't get sick.

Next week I'm leaving for The Great Midwest for a conference in St. Louis and a stop off to see my mom beforehand and my dad afterhand. My Studly Hubby has decided to go with for the first leg of the trip so he can see his family too. We're both very excited - we haven't been home since Thanksgiving! It'll be a very short weekend for me though, followed by an intense conference (I'm giving a talk!), so I'm hoping I don't turn into a slobbering wreck. One nice coincidence: I'll be heading off to Iowa the day after my BIRTHDAY! So I'll get to celebrate in style with my mummy and my in-laws at one of the fine dining establishments of our hometown (yay!). Taste of China is out, though: they've been swarmed by the IRS and were shut down for business last week (boo!).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Portland Adventures

We went to Portland this weekend to visit our good friends B & N for the last time there (they're moving in three weeks!). They took us around the town a little this time - to B's work up on the hill, through downtown, to the Sunday market where we bought a neat-o spinny toy that has a glass ball in the middle that amazingly looks like it's moving up and down even though it's not (pictured at right). We also hung around their neighborhood (Sellwood) some more, ate at a fancy organic Italian place, had some shakes, watched some movies, had some coffee and pastries in the morning and then said our good-byes in the afternoon and headed back to Seattle. It's hard to say good-bye - they are our long-time friends and have been a big help in the West Coast adjustment this year. So I sniffed a little as we pulled away. But we had a great time, saw their cute baby I, played with their loving dogs J & F, and were very comfortable. We hope for the best to them as they get packed up and head out to the crazy Southwest!

On our way back we stopped at a Famous Dave's BBQ place in Tacoma that we recently discovered. It's a bit different from the Famous Dave's we're used to back in the midwest - the menu has a few more things on it, the restaurant is designed a bit differently, but overall it's the same place with the same good sauces. We pigged out (big time) and then walked away in a food-buzzed daze and drove the rest of the way home. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but Famous Dave's sure makes us happy!

All in all, it was a pretty successful weekend.