Sunday, October 31, 2010

Running Growth

Sometimes recognizing change in yourself can be difficult.  Running makes it easy. 

Today I ran for an hour and 20 minutes straight and it didn't even phase me.  It didn't seem ridiculous or impossible or a stretch-goal or something I had to psyche myself up for; it just felt like something I do.  It wasn't too terribly long ago that running for the length of time seemed impossible.  Now, it just isn't that big of a deal.  I like that.  I like that a lot. 

Happy Halloween!

Here are some pictures from last weekend's First Annual Pumpkin Carving Party.  It has to be an annual tradition because we have so much Halloween and pumpkin carving infrastructure now that it would be a shame not to have it every year.  Besides, Kevin's family has held a pumpkin carving party back in Baltimore for over 30 years.  We are merely carrying the tradition to the west coast.  We even made his Grandmother's Hungarian GHOUL-ash for the occasion.

 The lineup in the light.

 The true test of a carved pumpkin.

Todd with the world's thickest pumpkin. 
My prize winning kitty-cat.
My prize winning kitty-cat anus.
Kevin and his creation.

Mike and Amber with, far and away, the best design.  Their Space Needle and witch just weren't deep enough for the light to shine through. Too bad, 'cause this could have easily walked away with it all.
Kim, Nellie, Patty and Paul hard at work.

Kevin giving his pumpkin a colonoscopy.

Pumpkin carving is hard work.

Everyone hard at work.

 I am always impressed with the quality of carvings people do.  Yes, stencils were allowed and most people used some kind of stencil but even with that in mind I thought the gourds turned out fabulously.  Unfortunately, Kevin and I won second and first place respectively.  You never want that to happen when you are the hosts.  We kept some of the goodies out of the prize bags but did give most of it away.  OK, not most.  I hung onto the movie tickets and some Seattle Chocolate truffle bars we bought.

I hope everyone has a happy day and gets rid of their mini-chocolate bars quickly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Would Colonel Mustard Do?

If my relationship goes south at some point I think you can solve the mystery of its demise much like you would a game of Clue:  It was Kevin and Ann-Marie, in the garage, with East Coast Swing.

Yeah, practicing went that well last night.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wedding Update

I actually took a fairly long break from wedding planning towards the end of the summer but now am back into it full-force with the finding of the dress.  Here are some of the things we have decided on:

  • As I mentioned, I found my dress!  That was a huge weight off my shoulders since I was pretty much convinced I would never find one that I liked.  Maybe I should have actually gone and tried on a few before I came to that "woe is me" decision.  It is fabulous and is completely me and is made to go with my fabulous wedding shoes.
  • The wedding shoes have determined the color scheme.  I didn't want to be one of those brides that chooses colors for her wedding.  Somehow in my mind girls who had a color scheme were the same ones that sat around dreamily writing Mrs. Ann-Marie Doe and only ever dreaming of being a wife.  Yes, I know how asinine that sounds now but I have a lot of goofy bride/wife/girly stuff hang-ups that I am just fully realizing the extent of.  Dealing with those as I go.  Anyhoo, the colors are going to be bright yellow and navy.  That is for the reception only.  Not so much worrying about a color scheme for the invitations, ceremony or website. 
  • We have found a new venue for the ceremony.  The location we were going to have it was the same as the reception location.  The venue wanted us to vacate the space for an hour to remove the chairs after the ceremony and we just couldn't see breaking up the flow of the event that way.  What would people do for an hour?  Besides, the space was never really pretty enough for a ceremony and has always been a bad fit for us in that regard.  We chose it for the whole "weekend of fun" thing for our guests and didn't really think through some of the logistics.  Since mid-May is a dicey month for anything outside (really, any time is dicey for that in the Northwest) we had to find a new indoor venue.  I had a rare moment of genius and remembered a place we saw a small concert at in Portland last year.  Lo and behold, they rent out their space and it is awesome.  The Oregonian called it a cross between a church and a bordello and that is a perfect description.  We are getting hitched at Mississippi Studios!
  • I have come to terms with the fact that we are going to have to have chair covers.  I dislike chair covers a lot but the chairs are ugly black metal things and those are the only chair options for the venue so.....chair covers it is.  I draw the line at bows though.  There will be no bows on the back of our chairs.  
  • I can't talk Kevin into wearing a suit so a tux for all the men in the wedding party it shall be.  I can't blame him.  I wouldn't want him dictating what I wear for the wedding any more than he wants me telling him what to wear.  I really do appreciate the fact that he is into this 100% and LOVES the planning.  I am lucky that way.  I still need to expose him to less formal weddings so he can drop some preconceptions though.
  • The custom art we were planning on fell through so now we have to look for a different artist.   It was going to be so cool too.  :-(
 I want to get as much done as possible before the end of the year when marathon training begins so I don't have to try and juggle both too much.  Right now our weekend with the wedding coordinator to go over menu, linens and crap is the same weekend my 20 miler is scheduled.  Nope, no worries there.

Five Weeks of Awkward

I finally broke down and signed Kevin and I up for dance classes.  He has been after me to take lessons with him from very early in our relationship and frankly, I just had too much going on for too long to want to deal with it.  I am not opposed to the idea at all I just think I am more realistic about our abilities than he is.  I have taken a few lessons in the past with not such a good success rate.  Stiff, awkward, type A people like myself should watch dance and appreciate it that way instead of participating.  But I signed us up anyway.

We have signed up for a five-week session of beginning East Coast Swing that will hopefully have us moving slightly less robotically by the end of November.  Tonight was the first session and it actually was kind of fun; hideous traffic to Capitol Hill excluded. 

Part of the impetus for signing up for classes now is that there is this whole wedding thing looming before us.  We haven't decided if we are going to have a first dance or not yet but if we do we want to be prepared.  If we don't we can still utilize our mad skillz at our wedding and any other social events we may go to in the future.

I am pretty certain I will go to sleep hearing "rock, step, triple-step, triple-step" in my sleep tonight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle!

Sometime in my life I got the idea in my head that as some sort of rite of passage a woman should take at least one trip by herself.  Not a little local trip but someplace far and exotic, preferably where she doesn't speak the language.  No waiting on a boyfriend or a friend to go with her but just go because she wants to go and can go.  I am finally making that trip.  The day after Thanksgiving I am leaving for two weeks in Costa Rica! 

My original vision involved Germany where I would eat lots of pig products and drink copious amounts of Reisling and Gewurtztraminer but cost got me looking elsewhere.  I looked at an adventure travel company that Kevin has used in the past and started looking for trips in my price range and stumbled on the Costa Rica trip and was hooked.  Jungles, monkeys, birds, volcanoes, hot springs, coffee and chocolate plantations, and after the tour is over I am heading off to the beach for a few days of hanging out with the leatherback turtles and swinging in a hammock.  Maybe if I am feeling particularly ambitious and graceful I might even take a surfing lesson.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beach Weekend Getaway

Mom and I went to the beach for a long weekend and this was my view for three days.  It was fabulous.  I basically did nothing other than sit on our deck and look out at this for days.  The weather was warm, blue skies and no wind.  Abnormal for a Washington beach especially in October.

To break up the sitting and reading and talking to Mom I ran five miles on both Saturday and Sunday.  The last time I went that far was quite awhile ago so it felt good to get into "high" mileage again.  In addition to the running I also did some swimming and, like a good Finn, some sauna-ing. 

We also ate some wonderful food including a pumpkin yogurt/honey granola trifle that haunts my dreams.  Movies and horrible wedding shows were watched and a good time was had by both.

This weekend was probably the most relaxed I have been in awhile.  Our typical vacations are "go go go" the entire time and this was refreshing to just do nothing and have no agenda.  I know it was a much needed escape for my mother too.  She almost didn't go but gave in to me and was extremely glad she did.  After the crappy year she has had she deserved a few days of R and R.

Oh, and on our way down to the beach on Friday we stopped at a bridal store and I bought my wedding dress!  Whoo-hoo! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Two great runs in two days.  Mojo back maybe?  My motivation seems to have kicked in and I am looking forward to my first double-digit week in months (how sad is that).  Sixteen miles may not seem like very many but it is the first concrete step of my marathon base building. Oh how great it feels to run and run well again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tour de Colorado

We are back from a much needed vacation and I feel a little more like a normal human being again.  It has been kind of a stressful summer for some very obvious reasons and I really needed a complete change of scenery.  Our vacation took us on a tour of dang near all of Colorado.  Since Kevin and I both want to visit all of our National Parks we built the trip around hitting as many of those that we could and getting to spend some time with our good friends in Denver.

The first stop on our trip was Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We climbed the big sand dune and I was fairly certain that was going to do me in.  However, Kevin's mountaineering skills came in handy as he encouraged me to do kick steps in the sand and do rest steps with each step.  That made it much easier to climb the dunes and we made it to the top.  The big dune is 650 feet high and the elevation before you even start climbing is 8200 feet and it was sunny so you can see that it was a bit of work to get up there.  Well worth it even though I will be picking sand dune sand out of my shoes and pockets for the rest of my life.  Running down the steep slopes of the dunes was a blast though!  Hooray for gravity!!!!

The next stop was Mesa Verde National Park to ooh and aah over the cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloans (can't use the term "Anasazi" anymore) and the overall beautiful area of SW Colorado.

We took a couple of guided tours into some of the cliff dwellings including one that involved a climb up a 30 ft ladder to get in and a crawl through an 18 inch wide 12 foot long tunnel and then some more ladders and such to get out. I was kind of convinced my ginormous ass would get stuck in the cliff dwelling and then oh, what a tourist attraction I would become. 

This is one of the small exit ladders for one of the Cliff Dwellings.  Imagine one three times as long to get in.

Mesa Verde is really an amazing place and one that is well worth your time.  So much history and so beautiful.

Kivas, kivas everywhere!  I am pretty sure I have had my lifetime fill of kivas.  Besides, I think they were probably more ancient living rooms rather than holy sites 'cause, well, you know I have that anthropology degree and everything.  Or at least a degree that alphabetically precedes anthropology in the course catalog and that should totally qualify me to make these statements.

Look!  I am doing women's work!!  The women would grind corn with these HEAVY rocks for 6-8 hours a day. 

After camping and exploring Mesa Verde we headed up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and camped there for two nights.  I also got to experience my first night camping in a thunderstorm with torrential rains.  Wheee!  On the way we stopped for a gold mine tour that seemed like it might be cheesy but was actually really interesting and informative.  I learned a ton about mining and got to see a hundred year-old porta-potty on tracks that the miners used to use in the mine.  Yes, even a mine tour can be turned into a discussion about poo.  That is just how I roll.

Kevin summed it up best about Black Canyon:  it is worth seeing but it isn't a "must see" destination.  If you are anywhere near it you should definitely hop on up there and take a look at it.  The canyon is 2700 feet deep at its deepest point and the Gunnison River has some serious drop; 240 feet per mile at its  Also, some amazing rocks up there.  Quartz, feldspar and mica everywhere you look.  I was a good park visitor though and fought the overwhelming urge to pick some up and take it home.  So. Very. Hard.

While we were camping we made a friend - Olive the camp grouse.  Olive was perched on the picnic table at our neighboring site when we arrived and she hung around for the next two days.  She has been gorging on all the tiny acorns and fattening up for winter.  Smart bird to pick campsites that predators generally steer clear of to live in.  Our bird is wicked smart.

After two days at the Black Canyon it was at trip to Denver to hang with The Blue Sky Girls.  Don't sue me H for unathorized use of your photo!  I'll take it down if you really want.

We went to the Hammond Candy Factory where they have been hand making candy canes, lollipops and ribbon candy for 90 years.  So fun to see how Kevin and I bought our weight in candy at the store. 

We also went to the American Mountaineering Museum where Jim Whittaker tried to kill Kevin,

did some beer tasting, went to a large carnivore sanctuary that was eye opening about how many nutbars there are who try to keep large exotic animals as pets, and had fascinating conversations about pigeons and guinea worms.  And really, can a conversation about guinea worms be anything but fascinating?  The answer is a resounding "no".  If you don't know about the guinea worm you should really Google it because it is insanely creepy and disturbing. Don't be eating spaghetti when you look.

The last day in town we did a Volksmarch through downtown Denver to get to see some of the cool public art downtown Denver has to offer.

We had a great time and are very grateful for our delightful hostesses for loaning us their camping gear and putting us up for three days.  Can't wait to return the favor.