Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The congestion is still lingering -- apparently, I'm going to be stuck with the Crud indefinitely -- but I am now so sick of being sick that I don't care. Babying myself through this thing worked (I didn't come down with bronchitis or pneumonia, after all), but only to a point. And then there's this marathon looming off in the distance. I'm losing time here. Granted, time is still on my side, but the longer this goes, the harder it's going to be in the long run. (Long run. Get it? Har har har.)

So, no more excuses. Or to quote that stupid shoe manufacturer: just do it.

Tuesday evening I really didn't want to do anything except sit around and do nothing. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, work was much more tiring than it should have been, and overall I felt generally lousy, but I made myself get up and go anyway. One 3-mile run later, I felt more clear-headed and alert than I'd been in a week. Also -- bonus! Despite the never-ending Crud and a training schedule that accordingly mutated to sporadic and light, somehow I've managed to shave a full minute off my mile times. How this possible? Oh well. Whoot.

Last night we had dinner plans to celebrate the girls' birthday*, but even though time was a'crunching, I went for a short run in between the girls and I getting home from school/work and before we went out for dinner. Nothing impressive, just a mile and a half, but still. It sure beats not going for a run. Go, me.

Today, I will go for a run this afternoon -- and if it's raining like the forecast says it's going to be, then I will go to the Y and run 44 laps around the track. Running in circles. Ick. I really hope it doesn't rain.

Related to nothing and on the very off chance that Karl reads this blog...Yesterday (Wednesday), at the intersection of Pilot Knob and Lone Oak, about 9:10 a.m.? You, on your bike. Me, in my grey Jetta. I waved happily. You stared blankly. I know, you probably didn't recognize me sans bike and hat. 'S'ok. Just wanted to say hi. Hi!

*The Rainforest Cafe, at their request. A good time was had by all, and especially by the birthday girls. Vol-ca-nooo!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In which I complain

I can't seem to manage to shake off this Crud I've been sick with going on 3 weeks now. I was better -- and then Morgan came home sick from school last Tuesday and reinfected me. I was better again -- and then Morgan got sick and reinfected me. Or maybe I reinfected her, and she in turn reinfected me? I think I've lost count. This dance, it has become old. We have simply got to stop passing this back and forth!

And why is it that Pete and Emma are remaining disgustingly healthy while Morgan and I hack and wheeze our way through May? (Not that I want either of them to get the Crud. I'm just saying that this feels somewhat unfair.)


Monday, May 26, 2008

Now we are (almost) 9

The girls didn't want a birthday cake this year; they wanted cupcakes.
So cupcakes they got.

(Thanks, Nana, not just for the cupcakes but the clever decorating!)

The bad thing about having a Memorial Day birthday is that most of your friends are out of town during the long weekend. Laura's in New York. Jasmine's in South Dakota. Miki's at a cousin's graduation. Mac wasn't quite sure where she was going to be, but she knew she wouldn't be here. Etc. This happens every year. We tried once to have a kiddy birthday party during Memorial Day weekend, but only got one RSVP. Now we know better, and will wait until summer vacation to have the friends' birthday party.

The good thing about having a Memorial Day birthday is that your family makes plans to travel to you. Being almost-9, it's no longer quite as fun to hang out with one's grandparents, aunts, and uncles instead of one's friends, but cupcakes and pre-actual-birthday loot make up for that.

(That's a lot of loot.)

The girls were delighted with their haul, but two gifts in particular made them squeal with delight: a gi-normous jewelry making kit for Morgan, and a chemistry set for Emma, both courtesy of Grandma and Papa.

(Did anyone get a picture of Morgan with her jewelry kit? Somehow, we didn't. If you did, will you please send us a copy?)

Unfortunately, Morgan was feeling the combined after-effects of a wild 24 hours out on the town with Uncle Matt and Auntie Jenn just the day before (Chuck E. Cheese! candy! vanilla pancakes! candy!) plus birthday party fare (chips! hot dogs! gallons of lemonade! cupcakes!) and took one of her new books and put herself to bed promptly after the last guest left.

Emma, who had been dying to rip open the chemistry set and blow something up, strapped on her safety goggles,

enlisted Daddy's help,

and went to work.

I'm glad to report that the house is still standing.

(If you hear a big "BOOM!" and see a plume of dust and smoke in our area, call for help, OK?)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's *free,* you foolish woman

There's this woman who works at the grocery store I go to. She's elderly, a Russian immigrant. Every time I end up in her line, she takes me to task for using cloth bags that I bought at that store. "[insert Russian accent here] Why do you spend money on those? We give you bags. For free," she adds for emphasis, just in case I don't understand. She also tries to bag individual items in plastic before putting them in the cloth bag, so that nothing leaks or oozes or breaks. At first I tried to explain. Now I just smile at the "for free" and stop her when she starts whipping out the little plastic bags. I would bristle at anyone else doing this stuff, but she's cute -- and she means well. Maybe it's the accent, maybe it's her earnestness, maybe it's that she reminds me a little bit of my grandmother, who would go to great lengths to save a buck. Whatever the reason, I like her.

I had to go to the store this morning to pick up some things for this afternoon's birthday party (the girls are turning 9 on Wednesday and we're having their family party today). I ended up in her line. She shook her head over my cloth bags. She chided me for buying organic milk produced from local grass-fed cows and sold in returnable glass bottles. "You know we got cheaper milk than this, right?" she said, frowning at me over her glasses.

"I like this milk," I said, and handed her the returnables.

She shook her head over my foolish ways. Cloth bags, expensive milk, doesn't care that something might leak or break or ooze if it's not swaddled in plastic. Clearly, I am some sort of foolish, frivolous lunatic in this woman's eyes. But today she got me. She quizzed me when she got to the birthday candles -- "You know you got two number 9s here? You want two number 9s?" -- and distracted me by going into raptures of delight upon learning that I deliberately got two number 9s instead of one because I have twins who are turning 9. She poured on the interest and charm. I was charmed. We chatted about twins (she has twin nieces who are now 41). It was fun. I stopped paying attention to what she was doing. There was only one item left to go, a bottle of dish soap. I thought it would be OK.

When I got home and started putting things away, I discovered that she'd bagged my bottle of dish soap in a plastic bag and then put the bagged dish soap in the cloth bag.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Doom, gloom, doom, gloom...

Having said that my blog entries are going to be sporadic at best for a bit here, of course then I start blogging like a madwoman.

I am reading a very depressing book right now: The World Without Us. We've really messed this place up. I mean, I knew before starting it that we've really made a grand mess of things, but the level to which we've done it, oil's role in it, and the aeons it's going to take to correct the damage is simply mind-boggling. Stop this ride. I want to get off. Oh, wait, I can't get off: we've only got one planet. OK. I'll just keep trying to do my best to take care of it, then. But do my efforts matter or make even a teeny difference? Right now, I'm doubting it. I mean, I'm only one in 6 billion and counting. All my efforts aren't even going to result in one bean, let alone a hill of beans. What good is anything I do if I'm surrounded by people whose main purpose in life seems to be to buy, consume, and throw away, and drive 8 brazillion miles while they're doing it?

I read in the paper today that oil broke $133 per barrel. American is going to start charging $15 per first checked bag as a way to offset fuel prices. The airlines and auto industries are gasping for air as oil prices continue to surge. There's now doubt about projected oil supplies being as plentiful as previously thought. None of that bothered me, though. In fact, my reaction is bring it. That's right. $4 per gallon for gas? Not high enough. Let's push it up to $10, $12, $15 per gallon. And higher! Because that is the only thing that will finally bring about real, meaningful change. It's going to hurt, no mistake about that. In the interim, it's probably going to get really ugly too. And we're going to see things like opening up the Arctic and the like for drilling. Now, in my opinion that's a band-aid approach at best. Going into currently-protected areas isn't going to do anything to fix the actual problem of this decades-long addiction to oil and the products (plastic, plastic, and more plastic) and behaviors that go along with it. What we need are real alternatives -- and behavioral changes. (On our way to the orthodontist this morning*, I counted only 3 cars with 2 or more people in them and 45 with only one person -- and that was just while waiting to turn off Pilot Knob!) But those don't exist yet, and so people will be screaming about fuel costs, and politicians, their backs to the wall, will be climbing over each other trying to calm the electorate and/or not lose votes...

Anyway, it's only when it starts to hurt, really hurt, that people will begin to reevaluate what they're doing, and then change what they're doing. I say that can't happen fast enough. It's going to take a hell of a long time for this place to recover from what we've done to it. We might as well start now.

*1&1/2 miles from our house. Location/proximity played a big part in why we went with her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Dear Lingering Congestion and Cough,


No love,

PS Happy Birthday, Matthew D.!
This is going to be a repeat post for those of you who read my super-secret writing blog. Sorry about that. But I am resolved that I am not going to let myself play with pictures from the 3-speed tour until I hit a certain point on the novel's edits, and, well, I didn't hit that point yesterday. So no new pictures for you. I realize that's not exactly fair but I've yet to come up with a better way to do this, so that's what it's going to be.

For the people who do not know the super-secret handshake and password to read the super-secret writing blog, however, these are new pictures. And probably new information, as I bet most of you didn't even know I was going to go do a 3-speed tour. Well, I did! And despite only having done a few rides this spring and still being on the tail end of being sick, it was grand fun.

If you click the 3-speed tour link, it will basically tell you that a bunch of nutters dress up like people from the 30s, get on a bunch of old 3-speeds and take two days to ride around Lake Pepin, with lots of stops for pastries, cheese, and tea. And that's exactly what we did.

Last night Pete asked if doing this made us the biking equivalent of Civil War reenactors. Yes dear, I believe it does.

I even wore a skirt the first day. I've never worn a skirt biking before and was a little apprehensive about it, but it was actually rather fun. I should also say that I cheated and wore biking shorts beneath. I don't think those were an option in the 30s, but fortunately, I live in 2008.

I received a lot of comments about my hat. All compliments, I'm sure, for it's a beauty, isn't it!

I met lots of very nice people. I saw eagles. I ate pie. I biked slowly with my sweetie through scenic beauty and historical landmarks. We made people stare. It was a grand time, indeed. I'm already looking forward to next year's tour.

I've got a lot more pictures I'd like to process and post, and a slightly more detailed entry to write up, but unfortunately that is going to have to wait as I've hit crunch time with the novel. Between that and my training schedule for the marathon, updates to this blog may be sporadic at best for a bit.

Now I must run away to work and sell books, and then after I will work on my book until the girls get home from school and we work our way through homework, and dinner, and swimming lessons. And I need to go for a run today, too. Busy, busy. Sort of makes me wish I were still leisurely biking around Lake Pepin.

Edit: I wrote this in a hurry before leaving for work this morning, and realized after the fact that I'd inadvertently left out the most important part of the 3-speed tour. So here it is, along with my apologies for not including it in the original post: a big, huge THANK YOU! to Bill at a midway bikelog for the loan of the Dunelt. It's a beautiful bike in fabulous condition, and it got a lot of attention and compliments all through the tour (as well it should have!). What a sweet, sweet ride. Thanks, Bill!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Big C; Another Haircut; Art (Or Is It Something Else?)

I am glad I decided to baby myself, because sheesh. This cold or whatever it is, it's kicked my derrière. If I hadn't babied myself, I really would probably be deep into bronchitis or pneumonia territory by now. As it is I am mostly better, save for some lingering congestion and some sinuses that were severely clogged yesterday but are now much better, thanks to the wonders of...cayenne pepper. Yes, that's right. Cayenne pepper.

Here's what happened. My sinuses were so bad yesterday morning that I couldn't hear out of my right ear and the right side of my face so clogged and heavy that I was literally off-balance. That's not fun! I tried to make an appointment to go see my doc. No luck. The earliest I could get in was tomorrow (Friday). I made the appointment anyway, and then promptly went a-searching teh Interwebs to see if I could find something -- anything! -- that would provide some immediate relief.

After learning more about my sinuses than I ever wanted (did you know that most people after age 30-40 can hold up to 2 full cups of mucus, dust, pollen, and other substances in their sinus cavity? ewww), I hit on some home cures. After ruling out things like standing on my head, plunging my head into a bucket of ice water, or squirting onion juice up into my nose, I decided to try sniffing cayenne pepper. That's right, I was desperate enough to snort cayenne! But don't be alarmed. I too was quite concerned about the potential negative effects of this cure, and so went about it very cautiously. I took the tiniest pinch imaginable (4-6 grains?) and sniffed about half of that. I waited a minute or two. Other than a faint and surprisingly not-unpleasant sensation of warmth in my nose and back of my throat, nothing happened. Cautiously emboldened, I sniffed the rest of the tiny pinch. The warmth increased, although again not unpleasantly so. Within minutes my sinuses began to drain. I will spare you the nasty details. Suffice it to say that after about a half hour, maybe forty-five minutes, the clog was unclogged, balance was restored, and I could hear out of my right ear again. Even better, it's stayed unclogged. All praise the curative effects of cayenne pepper, hallelujah!

If I'd been really bold and snorted a bunch all at once, I suppose I would have been fixed immediately -- but I think I also would have been in cayenne-induced agony. In this case, less was truly more. Anyway, the next time your sinuses are clogged, consider reaching for a teeny little bit of cayenne pepper. Or not; really, you've got to be rather desperate to try this one. But for what it's worth, it worked. I've even canceled tomorrow's doctor's appointment.

# # #

Since the haircuts last week, I've had a lot of people tell me that their girls with their short hair look a lot like me. I dunno. I think that they look a lot like both of us. From my short, stocky point-of-view, they hit the genetic jackpot by getting their daddy's build: tall and lean. (Poor, poor things. To be fated to be tall and slim -- oh, the horror! I don't know how they'll endure it.../end false sympathy)

They've got my eyes and their daddy's build, and the rest is this combination of us that I think is uniquely them. But I don't know. What do you think? I just got my hair cut this morning, so here's a quick one of me (sorry, my arms aren't long enough for some better perspective and I didn't feel like setting up the tripod and remote), one of Pete from last summer, and the girls:

# # #

A life-sized Lucian Freud painting of a sleeping, naked woman has set a new world record price for a work by a living artist.

It went for £17.2m ($33.6m). That's a lot of clams. Is it art? A challenge to our current cultural conception of beauty? Something else?

I don't know what I think. But if I were going to spend $33.6 million on a painting, I probably wouldn't buy this one.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I've been sick since Thursday. It's nothing serious, just a rather vile head cold and cough. Usually I tend to try to muscle through this kind of stuff, but I've gotten wise in my old age -- or experience has finally taught my stubborn self a lesson it should have learned a long time ago: it almost never works to muscle through it. Instead, I just get really sick and end up with pneumonia or the like. Always fun. NOT.

There's also the marathon looming before me. I am apparently really dedicated to doing this thing, because this was a huge factor in how I decided to treat myself. Do I want to A) be smart about this and take a few days off now and get better, or B) be stupid and end up having to take a month off later, which would throw a huge wrench in the training plan, if not knock me out of the marathon completely? Hmm. Gosh, whatever should I do...

I chose A and have been babying myself accordingly. Four days later and lots of rest, fluids, and chicken noodle soup, I think tomorrow I might be OK enough to attempt a very light run. Or not. Maybe I'll just take the dog for a walk. That's all right too. I'm resolved not to push too hard or too fast. The wisdom of 37...Man! Imagine how smart I'll be when I'm 57! The mind boggles.

As a sort of sidenote, it's amazing how fast the house falls apart when I'm out of commission. Clearly, I must be feeling better since today I'm feeling the urge to do something about the mess and clutter, but oh my. It's like the place imploded.

It must be said that a lot of the mess belongs to a certain set of almost-9-year-old twins. They're definitely old enough to be cleaning up after themselves, so accordingly, they'll be doing some cleaning when they get home from school today. They'll be so happy. I can just imagine their reactions: Oh joy! Oh bliss! May we clean more, dear Mother? Please? Oh, please?

Ha ha. Yeah, dream on. The reality will be a fair amount of whining and complaining, and I shall turn into my mother: It's good for you, girls. Someday you'll both thank me for making you clean up after yourselves. Personal responsibility! Etc.

I can hardly wait.

Current conditions: Wind 17 mph, gusting to 25 mph.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dreaming of alternatives

I would love to go off the grid -- electrical grid, that is. It wouldn't bother me one bit not to be beholden to Xcel Energy, not one bit at all.

If we did it, I think I'd prefer wind power to solar power. Not only do we fit the criteria

if you have at least half an acre of land, wind speeds of at least 10 mph and an electric bill of at least $60/month, you might be a candidate for your own wind power installation
(check, check, and check)

but it also seems that in this area, wind would be more practical than solar. Living atop a river bluff, we've almost always got wind in abundance. (Current conditions: wind at 13 mph with gusts up to 23 mph.) Sun...not so much, or at least not so reliably. November through March, especially, can be awfully grey months. And for much of this last April, sun was the exception, not the norm. No, I just don't think solar's the best option for us. Wind, however...hmm.

Our city council can be rather stupid, though. (Witness the current Mediterranean Cruise Cafe debacle.) I wonder what kind of idiotic hoops they'd make us jump through to get a permit, if they'd even issue one at all. And what would the neighbors say? Actually, I think they'd mostly be cool with it. I'm sure there'd be a few loud-mouthed exceptions, though...

That start-up cost is a bit much initially, too. It seems that over time it would pay for itself, but that's a chunk of change, no doubt about it. Of course, we could always build our own. Goodness knows, we've always got lots of spare bikes and parts lying around.

Has anyone out there gone to wind power? How's that been working for you?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Thank you so much, everyone, for the comments you left for the girls re: the haircuts! They were thrilled.

And the timing couldn't have been better. Morgan came home from school yesterday with her feelings a tiny bit hurt: all but one of her friends had told her that they liked her long hair better. They are so honest at this age, not intentionally so but sometimes painfully so...Granted, no one said that they didn't like the new short hair, just that they preferred the long hair, but she was a little glum. (Emma's friends, on the other hand, all loved, loved, LOVED her new 'do, so she was still grinning from ear-to-ear.) Now, Morgan had come to the conclusion all on her own that she likes the short 'do better than the long and that's all that really matters, and so she mostly didn't care what her friends thought, but "there's a little bit of me that does care even though that's silly." (Aww.) Reading all those comments definitely cheered her up.

So again, thank you. :-)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Delight, not tears, thankfully

I know you've all been just dying to know how it went!

Well, after school we went off to the "haircut store," as the girls call it. They looked through the style books, and each picked out her own 'do. Warning: lots of pictures to follow. As always, click on the picture to see the larger size.

Emma went first.

She was so excited, she could barely sit still.

The ponytail's end was near.

It took some effort to saw through it,

but finally, the deed was done.

"Look at all my hair!"

She couldn't stop grinning.

Then it was Morgan's turn.

She looked a little nervous.
I asked if she still wanted to go through with it

and she said "Yes," without hesitation,
but she wasn't quite as enthusiastic as before.
But she was still determined.
So we gave the order.

The stylist sawed through the ponytail

and there was no going back.

She looks so much like her bobbed-hair 4-year-old self in this one,
it makes me a little wistful.

Meanwhile, in the other chair, Emma was still grinning.
(Goodness, that mirror was smudged.)

Morgan was feeling pangs of regret

and looking rather somber.

Smiley was still grinning, though.

And with good reason.

It's a darling cut!

Of course, I am biased, but really, it's a darling cut.

Morgan was still quite somber,

but finally she cracked a smile and started having fun,
and I knew she'd be all right.

"I like it!"

"Look at all my hair!"


Absolutely adorable!

So adorable, I just have to post another one.

Short hair rules!
(Until one or both of us decide to grow it long again...)

I really have to give a shout-out to Fantastic Sam's in Mendota Heights. The stylists were both fabulous, very patient yet also very excited for the girls and their long-to-short cuts. (They were also very patient about a certain mother taking entirely too many pictures.) The girls both donated their hair to Locks of Love; because they donated, their haircuts were free. I didn't know that the cuts would be free until all was said and done. What a pleasant surprise! We hadn't been to Fantastic Sam's before this, but we'll definitely be going back.

no more braids or pony tails

The last few weeks, the girls have been agitating for short hair. (Morgan's hair is about half-way down her back; Emma's is an inch or two shorter.) I told them to think about it, really think about it. Because the thing is with a short haircut, if you don't like it, you're really stuck for a bit and it will take a long while to grow back out. (Yes, that'd be the Voice of Experience talking.)

Also, for the last two years Morgan has deliberately been growing her hair "down to my butt," as she puts it. "After all this effort, are you sure you want to cut it off? I mean, really, really sure?" I asked. (After all, this is the child who cut her own hair when she was 3 and went into hysterics when she realized she couldn't put it back on. I'm just saying.)

She glared at me. "YES. I want hair like Auntie Val's*!"

They are both undeterred by my warnings and very determined. So after school today, they have appointments to go under the scissors. I suspect that this will either end in tears or delight, no middle ground. And of course, I shall take pictures and post them later...

*Adorably short, spike-y pixie cut. Also blond, but I put my foot down when Morgan asked for that.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

THUNK *iz ded*

Ran 6 miles.

Just think: if this had been October 5th, I'd still have 20.2 miles to go!


I'm going to go collapse rest now.

Friday, May 02, 2008

May showers will finally bring some flowers, I hope

Today the girls are off from school, so for lunch we went downtown and had lunch with Daddy.

On our way back to the station it started to rain. By the time we reached our stop, it was pouring.

Fortunately, I'd brought umbrellas.

Even more fortunately, the girls think rain + umbrellas = FUN.
(Click the picture above to see how hard it was coming down.)

44°F, pouring rain, nasty little wind, and they couldn't be happier. Aren't kids great!

(I am really regretting not going for a run right when I got up this morning. Now I'm going to have to either run in the cold rain or go to the Y and run the dry yet agonizingly boring track or treadmill. Bleh.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I stayed up too late last night.

I'm tired.

I worked all day and my feet hurt.

I'd rather sleep an extra hour than get up and go for a run.

I'll just hit snooze and go for a run later.

I'll go after I get home from work.

I'll go for a run after dinner.

Missing one day won't hurt anything.

I'll run extra hard tomorrow.

It's cold.

It's raining.

It's dark.

It's hot.

It's snowing.

I'd rather hang out with the spouse unit and kids.

I'd rather read a book.

I'd rather watch the Idiot Box.

I'd rather do just about anything right now than go for a run.

Just don' wanna.

Did I miss any? I'm sure I did.

5 months and 4 days to go.

No excuses.