Sunday, December 24, 2006

Decorating a log cabin and a 12-foot tree

Spent Saturday afternoon at the Yukon Palace helping Mom and her cousins decorate. Fred got to put the star on the 12-foot tree. It’s the first electric star that Uncle Brandon bought in 1941, when electricity finally arrived at their farms. The rest of the tree is hung with gingerbread, candy canes, apple slices and popcorn garlands. It looks really nice.

Dad and Fred and I crossed the frozen creek and went for a hike through the woods to the beaver dam. Saw tons of animal tracks out there – vole, rabbit, fisher and even some otters’ belly slides. The sun was setting, and the birch trees were glowing against a blue sky.

We had dinner with my mom’s sister and her family at the newly-opened Oriental Wok on Main St. We chuckled at the wine menu (the Burgundy was described as “a full-bodied whine”) and lamented the lack of anything remotely spicy on the menu, but it’s great to be in small-town Minnesota nonetheless.

This morning we went to church. Between my mom and her siblings and cousins and all of their family members, we filled an entire side of the church and got a shout-out from the pastor during the announcements. We’re such a clan. In a good way. We took twice as long as everyone else during the sharing of the peace. I went for a run when I got home, on the nice long straight roads around my grandma’s house. They’re all spaced exactly one mile apart, so my run was a perfect four-mile square. Ah farm country!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Quilting, MPR, Driving North

We packed up Dad’s Saab and are headed north. Fred and Margo are both napping; Margaret is tired from last night’s lefse making, and Fred’s tired from lots of pickup hockey. Mom and the dog drove up yesterday to help get things organized at my grandma’s house. Baking, decorating, making up beds, etc. I spent yesterday morning running errands with my sister – books, a new hummingbird feeder and 9 yards of fabric for a quilt. I spent the afternoon working on the quilt I’m going to give Scott for Christmas. I’ve been thinking about making one for a long time, so it was nice to finally have the time to put it together. The siblings and I met the father at the Hacienda del Sol for dinner, and then I spent the rest of the evening quilting. Thank goodness for Minnesota Public Radio – Talk of the Nation Science Friday, All Things Considered, and lots of great Christmas music made the hours pass quickly. Here's a picture of the finished product:

This morning was a quick wrapping of presents, a fruitless of scouring of the yard for decorative pinecones, a little packing, water-dish filling for Shackleton and Puff who have to stay behind, a little thermos filling for the coffee-drinkers, and we were off! Next stop, Lake of the Woods County.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's snowing in Minnesota! They're de-i cing the wings and plowing the runways!
Today’s the solstice, the day when the north pole stops distancing itself from the sun. It’s reached its outer limit and swings back in. Even the date, 12-21, is a palindrome and looks like it’s reached its apex and is turning itself around. I can’t wait for more sunlight.

Right now I’m at the very end of Terminal A in the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, in a gate with only 35 seats and 6 passengers. My legs were sore, so I walked all the way here from F, spurning the moving walkways and, worse yet, the tram. I walked past flights headed to San Francisco and Dallas, and I kept walking until I got to gates for people going to Bemidji and Aberdeen and Duluth. Oh Minnesota! Land of dipthonged “yep”s, non-ironic mullets and corny fishing jokes (“Does this shirt make my bass look fat?”). Currently it’s a land of heavy, freezing rain, but I’m sure that will clear up soon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nice bike rides

It's 70°F. December 18th, 5:30 pm, and 70°F. It's terrific. I left the office at 2:30 today, ran some errands, and spent the rest of the afternoon working from my front porch. It got dark around 5 pm, so I turned on the Christmas lights... but they feel much more like garden party lights.

It was a weekend punctuated by lovely bike rides. (I'm really getting the hang of my new bike and am feeling much more confident on it. Even though it's yellow, I love riding it.)

Friday night was Liz's going away party. It was a great party, despite the occasion. Tons of people, tons of cupcakes, tons of stuff that Liz didn't want to pack and was encouraging her guests to take. I snagged an electric kettle, a Wellesley wine glass, a can or organic pumpkin puree, and a blue dolphin-shaped massager! Score! Scott and I stayed until 1 am. (I felt so grown-up, staying up late like that. A true testament to Liz's party.) We got to take Military Rd. home. It's a great route that cuts across the city, but it is not bike-safe during the day - too many fast cars and no bike lane. At night, however, when you're riding home towards Delafield, it's fantastic - empty lanes, wide curves, all downhills. I broke out the highest gears on the Yellow Giant and flew home. Definitely fun. Surprisingly peaceful.

Saturday was the day we barely left the house. We did make it out for a run in the afternoon (it's been warm out for such a long time!), but mostly we got stuff organized at home. I packed up a big duffel bag full of Margo's stuff that she left here last spring to take back to Minnesota. We used the canned organic pumpkin puree to make pumpkin bread. But we didn't know where the loaf pans were, so we made bundt bread. And then we made a big pot of chili. Around 6:30, our housemates started trickling in, along with a potential new housemate. We interviewed him (gently) over dinner and then celebrated Abby's birthday with the birthday-bundt-bread and then played telephone-pictionary. Good times.

Abby's birthday celebration continued on Sunday morning with a brunch at Mayorga. I had my first cup of coffee in a few weeks, and it made me tremble. It made Scott shaky too, though, so I think it was particularly strong. Tasty though. Home for a bit - Scott played Settlers with Seth and Peter, I practiced violin. Then off to Aaron and Jess's for a holiday party. We walked in on the end of a rousing game of telephone-pictionary (it's all the rage these days!), decorated some cookies, thoroughly enjoyed Paul's hot buttered rum, and said good-bye to Liz for good (sadly).

Then, it was time to go to the Kennedy Center to sing along with Handel's Messiah!! We managed to get terrific seats - the front rows of the highest balcony. Great views of the whole shebang. My choral memory was a little rusty, but I sang along with the alto line pretty well on the famous parts. And when I didn't know what to sing, I got to listen to an amazing performance. Good music, obviously, but good energy in the audience as well. The bike ride home was another fast one - I really like taking 16th home when it's late and traffic-free. And I had the Messiah in my head the entire time. Such a wonderful aftertaste.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fog, Crow, Fancy Dress

This morning was nice and foggy. A silky white ride to work. The intersection at Florida and 15th just got repaved, which is always nice. You get used to it being bad, and then it’s suddenly beautiful.

I went to a yoga class at the gym today. I have pathetic static strength in my legs (the warrior poses were killing me!), but suddenly I can do a crow. Cool! And my tree series wasn’t looking all that bad either.

Tonight Scott and I get to get dressed up and go to his office party, where I’m looking forward to the dancing.
Tomorrow is Liz’s going away party. Sniff.

In exactly a week (to the hour) I’ll be in Duluth. Fred’s there already, after some car troubles in Minnesota. Turns out the good old Saab needs a new engine. And it turns out there was a spare Saab engine in Mankato (where it died), so a transplant is currently underway.

Fred reports there’s no snow in Duluth. That’s good for walking on the Lakewalk, and good for Ultimate on the Reservoir, but bad for cross country skiing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

America's Most Literate Cities

Out of the country's 70 largest cities, Minneapolis came in 2nd, and St. Paul tied for 10th. Washington DC came in 3rd. Hooray for Minnesota and DC! (First place goes to Seattle, a city I also like.)
Drawing from a variety of available data resources, the America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the 69 largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. Previous editions of this study focused on five key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, and educational attainment. The 2005 study introduces a new factor—the Internet—to gauge the expansion of literacy to online media.
A cool, drizzly morning. The kind of morning where, if we were at the cabin, we'd bundle up to walk the dog and then come home, light a fire, make coffee and spend the morning with a good book.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


This is way more fun than lighting a candle online. You get to create your own snowflake and benefit the Salvation Army in the process! When you hold your mouse over the falling snowflakes, you can see other people's creations. Way cool!

Not too much to report this week. Saturday was quite festive - Messiah tickets, a holiday party with Scott's coworkers, and then Christmas tree decorating. Erin and Paul get all the credit on that last one - they brought home the tree, made popcorn-cranberry garlands, strung the lights and cut out paper ornaments. It's really wonderful to have such a nice tree in our living room.

On Sunday I did chores. I learned that once you start looking for woodwork to clean in Delafield, you find an abundance of it. Our baseboards were despicable, but so were doorframes, walls and banisters. Definitely an ongoing project... I also cleaned some bike chains, cooked a rutabaga and then joined our guests in the living room for a rousing game of Telephone/Pictionary (Television?). Scott and I had enough energy to watch Tim Burton's Frankenweenie before going to sleep.

Maybe tomorrow we'll actually get around to watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, not just the DVD extras!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Waiting in line, playing Fluxx

At the kennedy center!
We spent a few hours there this morning, waiting in line to get tickets to the annual Handel's Messiah Sing-Along. Some people had been camped out since 5 pm last night! Based on this enthusiasm, I think it's going to be a pretty fun event. Thanks to LT for bring the cards!

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Nutcracker!

Scott took me to the Nutcracker last night! Yaay! We saw the Washington Ballet down at the Warner Theater – a cool, ornate, not-too-big theater filled with little girls and Walter Reed patients and their families. We had terrific seats – right at the front of the balcony. The fun part of the production was the amount of local flavor they put in. The first act was set in 1882 Georgetown, and Frederick Douglass was one of the guests. One of the dolls was an Anacostia Indian, and the other two were decked out in red, white and blue. The boys all got cowboys-and-indians toys from Uncle Drosselmeyer. All of this was, of course, reflected in the second act. Frontiersmen and girls instead of Russians, and Anacostia Indians instead of Arabians. Mother Ginger was Mary Barnum (of circus fame) who came out on top of a carousel full of clowns. Waltz of the Flowers became Waltz of the Cherry Blossoms, and in fact most of the stage was seen under arching boughs of cherry blossoms. Nice dancing, so-so music, a thoroughly enjoyable performance overall!

We emerged to discover a few snow flurries and a gusty, biting wind – one that threatened our balance as we were biking – so we treated ourselves to a nice warm bus ride home.

Today is still cold – my eyes were watering and my fingers were burning almost as soon as I left the house this morning. No. Fun. But at least it’s not raining!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I'm not sure if it was the lingering effects of my cold or my decision to end my coffee-addiction cold-turkey, but jeez I needed a lot of sleep last night. I took a 2+ hour nap when I got home from work yesterday, and then I got something like 9 hours of sleep when I went to bed for real.

As I type, Scott is at the dentist getting caps put on his two front teeth. He had the classic bike accident on his way to work yesterday - ran into a car door that opened suddenly in front of him. His helmet his the ground first, and then his mouth. He's ok - a fat lip, some chipped teeth, a few bruises on his knees and shoulders - and his bike will be ridable after a few minor repairs. Thank goodness. Still scary, though.

Tonight we get to go to the Nutcracker!

A few photos from my dad to help get you in the Christmas spirit: our house, and a detail of the festive bike in the front yard.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Bristol-Myers is donating $1 to the National AIDS Fund every time someone goes to their website and moves the match to the candle and lights it. It takes a second to raise a dollar.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Frisbee in SL!

My favorite part of the product description: "To catch a frisbee run into it, when you are within a meter or so distance you will grab it automatically." If only catching were so easy in real life! I like how the avatar is wearing a Sibley-esque hat.

Speaking of virtual sports,

(Click to enlarge.)

Dental Floss, Falafel Kittens

Armand's got a great new video on called "Dentally Disturbed." A three-and-a-half minute must-see!

On Sunday night, Scott and I watched Shaun of the Dead, by the same guy who did Bubba Ho-Tep. I was a little skeptical as we watched the previews - one for a super violent movie, and one for Jackass. Sometimes you can tell if you're going to like a movie by whether or not you like the previews. Turns out Shaun is both violent and ridiculous... but I really liked it. NOT as much as Bubba, but I'm glad I saw it. I didn't need to see the guy getting eaten alive, but that's ok. At least he was the annoying one. And does anyone else think he looks like Harry Potter? (He's in the blue sweater below.)

We now return to our regularly-scheduled weekend recap:
Saturday was fun - I got my new bike all ready to go (switched out the clipless pedals, adjusted the handlebars, inflated the tires) and had a fine time riding it around the sunny, traffic-free streets of DC. Scott and I spent a significant amount of time at Mocha Hut reading and working, and I got a little Christmas shopping done as well. We went home, made a big batch of waldorf salad and five pounds of chipotle sweet potatoes, and headed up to Nate and Anna's house for "Second Thanksgiving," where you get to eat things that you wished had been at Thanksgiving. Nate, for example, didn't get any mashed potatoes this year, so this dinner resolved that. It was a great meal, and fun to spend time with Anna and Nate and their cats. Sadly, my immune system sent me home to bed early.

Sunday, the storm that had been brewing in my immune system all week long finally hit, so I took full advantage of the couch while Scott did chores and brought me tea. We went for a nice walk/hike through Rock Creek Park in the afternoon, had cream of mushroom soup for dinner, installed my wavy mirror in our room (one of those things that's been on our to-do list for months) and watched Shaun of the Dead.

Recently entertaining dreams:
- Something about a cat who gave birth to falafel instead of kittens...
- I was part of the team responsible for making the sequel to V for Vendetta, but I'd never seen the movie (which is true), so I had no idea what to do.
- We were having a Sheep retreat at my house in Duluth, and Morton was teaching me Japanese.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A warm day, and humid enough that you can feel the air in your mouth when you breathe it in. My ride to work was soft, misty, lackadaisical. The asphalt was dark from last night's rain.

Yesterday's notable events:
Liz and Ann and I attended a hip hop class at the gym after work. It was kind of fun but mostly confusing. My performance was all hop... not too hip. From there, we met up with Scott at Amsterdam Falafelshop, which was very tasty. We dined al fresco, possibly for the last time this year. Upon returning home, we encountered a mysterious bad odor in the foyer. Then I screamed because I saw a mouse in the kitchen and it startled me. I took out the compost, but I don't think it was the cause of the odor. Scott shined his shoes. Later than night, I dreamt that a dentist was cleaning a 10-year-old girl's teeth on the street outside our house. Not on the sidewalk, but in the middle of the street!

Hoping for a low-key weekend. I feel like I've been about to get sick since Monday. Lots of zinc, tea and sleep should give my immune system the fuel it needs, right? This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, so I'll be going to church for the first time in months! Last spring, Pastor Cox left, which is too bad; I thought she was terrific. I haven't met the new pastor yet. Hope he's good.