June 21, 2010
The snowiest winter on record (including 10 days off from work):
A new addition to the family, The Beast:
Another new addition to the family (due November 3):
A week in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia:
A first half marathon for Allen (and Brandi, Steven, Melissa, and Naqi) in Oklahoma City:
Our niece Caroline turned one:
Twenty weeks of pregnancy reveals that we’re having a little boy!
And at the end of this week, the end of the school year!
June 30, 2009
It’s the first day of my summer vacation!
School got out on June 19, but I opted to do a summer project to earn some extra money for yoga. I started going to yoga again at the Ashtanga Yoga Center in DC – must read back in my infrequent posts to see if I mentioned that already, but I don’t think that I did. It’s a bit of a drive at 25 minutes to Tenleytown, but definitely worth it to continue Ashtanga, and I really like the instructors. I took the (financial? commitment?) leap and paid for unlimited morning Mysore classes, too, so I’ve been going almost daily since June 15. Mysore classes refer to the style of teaching/practicing in Mysore, India, where you attend and self-practice under the guidance of an instructor who adjusts your postures and adds new ones to your practice as you memories the sequence. There are people in my classes who are far more practiced and those who have far less experience as well. It actually makes me very comfortable, and I feel refreshed and energized for the day when I go to Mysore in the morning. (Thank goodness, because it’s certainly hard for me to leave the house at 6:45 am or earlier.)
I haven’t forgotten my running, though I’ve done it a little less of late. Instead of running 3 times a week, I’m going once or twice. However, last week I went three times between Sunday and Saturday, including running the Potomac River Running Twilight Festival Four-Miler in Ashburn on Saturday evening. I had my usual goal – keep running the whole time. Once I got underway, I also amused myself with a secondary goal of running it in under 45 minutes, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I hadn’t achieved that goal. But I was successful in both! I ran a very steady four miles, with my average pace for the first two miles at 10:49 minutes/mile, and my average pace overall at 11:09 minutes/mile, and I finished in (do the math) 44:36. As a testament to my steadiness, I was able to sprint the last 50 meters or so, and I felt great doing it. There was great swag at this race – not only did I get an awesome orange technical t-shirt and a $1 off at Robek’s coupon in my race packet, but all runners got a free burrito and drink afterwards (and a beer, which I gave away). There were free massages, a moon bounce for kids, and post-race snacks and drinks courtesy of Wegman’s. Fancy! It about made up for the heat, serious lack of shade on the course, and of course for the “scenery” of Ashburn.
We’re back to painting the house (no, we’re not done yet), so that’s part of what I’ll be spending my first day of vacation doing. Most recently we had painted the ceiling and trim in our bedroom, leaving the walls a mess and in need of the blue gray that will soon go up. But we decided yesterday to start in on the small bedroom first, which is a light (to me) green-blue color. I’ll be working on the ceiling in there and the guest bathroom today, then moving to the trim, then the wall colors. Allen decided that we could pick a new paint color for the hallway (yellow since about six months ago, and I haven’t come around to liking it yet), rather than spend another $50 on the last gallon of Benjamin Moore paint we’d need to finish the upstairs part of the hallway. I was overjoyed to hear that we didn’t need to wait a couple of years to declare the color a failure and repaint. (And yes, we could spend the money to try sample patches first. But at least 4 out of 5 times, if not 9 out of 10, I’m happy with the color I pick on the first try. So I’m cheap and risky.)
There is a limit to what we’ll get done this week though because on Saturday we leave for a week in St. John. Allen’s parents built a house down there, which they rent for 10 months of the year and visit for two. They’ll be down there for the whole month; we’re just there Saturday through Friday.
Enough with the blogging for now – hopefully I’ll have more time to post now that it’s summer – but it’s time to get to that painting.
November 1, 2008
October 10, 2008
In just a couple of hours, Allen and I will jump in my grandma’s car and head for Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We’re spending our weekend at Highacre, a beautiful red house on top of town. Highacre is owned by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members, of which Regina’s parents are members, and we have often split the week at Harpers Ferry with them in the past five years.
Allen and I first went to Harpers Ferry during what we called The Spring of the Civil War. Weekend after weekend, we explored different Civil War sites, including Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Gettysburg (though that happened in the fall). And one cold weekend, we stayed in Harpers Ferry, hiked up to Maryland Heights, and decided we’d keep coming back. Now we’re nearing our tenth visit (but who counts), and we got engaged there.
So I’m really looking forward to another weekend in Harpers Ferry. It’s the perfect setting for this fall weather. We’ll swing on the porch (and I’ll stitch), hike Maryland Heights (of course!), and wander the town-cum-national-park. So, back to packing!
July 13, 2008
Allen and I are wrapping up a long weekend in Greenwich and Long Island for a family visit (my mom’s side) and a wedding, respectively. And I’ve been told that certain family members keep checking my blog every morning to see if I have updated it. So here’s a little update: pictures! Of those family members.
Hi Uncle Scott!
I’m having a good time – no time to blog!
June 23, 2008
This last weekend we finally visited Allen’s French family in the north. We stayed with Allen’s aunt and uncle (his mom’s sister and brother-in-law), who are also Allen’s godmother and Stephanie’s godfather. Charles and Jacqueline live in Maubeuge, which is in Pas de Calais, close to the Belgian border.
Jacqueline is a wonderful cook, and she served us spaghetti bolognaise (homemade sauce, of course!); a tagine of dates, apricots, almonds and lamb with couscous; a spicy Moroccan soup; a crab, avocado, and tomato salad; and many other delicious plates. Each time, it was a typical French meal with a starter, main dish, sometimes cheese, dessert, and then coffee. The French certainly know how to live.
We were very impressed as well with Charles and Jacqueline’s impressive garden, from which we ate lettuce, radish, and strawberries. They also had several fruit trees: pear, apple, and cherry, plus red currant bushes. We hope to grow a small garden when we get back to the States, so we’re keeping their garden in our minds as inspiration. (However, I did admit our failed gardening attempt in the Arlington Community Gardens, where Cate, Allen, and I went back several times to weed and clear our plot, with so much time in between that that’s all we managed to ever do.)
We spent most of the weekend just chatting, and I got to hear stories about Allen and Stephanie when they were young.
On Saturday night, we headed out to the movies to see Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis. Les Ch’tis are the inhabitants of the north of France, particularly Nord Pas de Calais, and they have a distinctive regional dialect that blends the French of today and the Picard dialect of years past. Charles gave us a briefing on different phrases so we wouldn’t be totally lost during the movie. (And still, it was hard to follow, but we got a lot more having had our little lesson. I’d say I was around 85-90%, which is pretty good for any French movie I watch.) The premise of the movie is that a man from the south gets sent to work in the north as punishment – and he really sees it as such, dreading the cold, the strange people, and the overall inhospitable atmosphere. But he turns out to love it…but his wife doesn’t believe him, so there’s a hilarious juxtaposition between the stereotypes of the north and the actuality, which culminates in…ah, go watch the movie! At the beginning, an old man tells him scary tales of the north, and say in a menacing voice, “Le noooooooord…” Charles got a real kick out of that. And apparently, some US film studio has bought the rights, so we’ll see a remake in the US in a few years. Allen and I were trying to guess what regions and people would star – sunny California and hilly West Virginia perhaps?
We had a great time with Charles and Jacqueline, and I was very glad we were able to get up there before the year was out. Maybe next time we visit, we’ll visit the sky-diving school near their house; this time we sat on the porch and watched parachutist after parachutist. Or maybe we’ll just watch again.
June 8, 2008
Just as Allen and I are Schmanz, our close friends Brandi and Steven are Gosap. And Team Gosap is off on an international adventure of their own: five weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico. The stated purpose* is to attend a language school to improve their Spanish, but the trip will be so much more. Steven (the Go- half) is returning to the homeland. Will he glory in his indigineous roots or feel uprooted? Brandi (formerly of -sap fame) will be vying for the title of Miss Blondest Mexico. She’s a real contender.
We’ll be following Border Crossings, their new blog, very closely during the next five weeks and suggest you do the same!
*Gosap, remember this? “State your purpose!” at the Cheesecake Factory in Arlington. “I’m here to eat!”
I could reminisce for hours on the memorable places of my life. Last week, Allen and I revisited one of those places – the path through the Pyrenees known as the Sentier Cathare. We hiked from Quillan to Foix in five days, hoofing over 100 km (66.5 miles). We barely shut up the entire time, either. And along the way, I took a few pictures, which you can find here. I’ll follow up with a narrative as I’m able to catch up.
June 1, 2008
As usual, I’ll try to distract you from the lack of actual writing on my blog with fancy! shiny! pictures! You can see all our pictures from Montpellier (with a running commentary, of course) here. In the next few days, I’ll be trying to get up some stories from our Montpellier reunion 2008! But fortunately for me, Elizabeth is coming up for her last visit to Paris while we’re still here, so her arrival on Tuesday may mean that I need to venture back into the great outdoors, instead of putting my feet up and blogging. Isn’t life an adventure!
Apparently, I had the foresight to book first class tickets from Paris to Montpellier and then the good sense to forget all about it. So when Allen and I arrived at car number three and found it was a first-class car, we were very excited. “Just a little early anniversary present,” I joked.
Three hours into the trip, the TGV has finally slowed, and we’re pulling into the train station in Nimes. Somehow “I’ve been here before” is almost a physical reaction. My skin is tingling with anticipation of the heightening of that feeling in Montpellier. We’re twenty minutes away.
It didn’t seem to make sense to travel very much in the fall, when I was settling in to Paris, and Allen and I were adjusting to inhabiting a shared space again (and a small one at that) after two months apart. And then I found work, and we had visitors, and I flew back to the States in December, then Allen did in January, and there was dreary February, and then half the people we know came to Paris seemingly at once. Now with five weeks left in France and fifteen minutes left on a train, I’m asking myself why we waited so long.
I’ve been back to Montpellier since studying here, in 2003 with my mother and my friend Sara. But this time will be so different. Last time my friend Adam was studying abroad in Montpellier with the William & Mary program (I like to think I had a hand in it), and he was living in our building. So we stayed two floors down from my old apartment. This time, we’re farther removed, staying in a chambre d’hotes. But this time is a reunion, with Allen and I meeting Debbie and Elizabeth. We’re about a fifth of our study abroad group right there. (And it’s worth noting that by luck – or a predictable sequence of events, depending on how you view it – we’re two pairs that lived together that year. Allen and Debbie were in the same dorm hall at Boutonnet, while Elizabeth and I shared a charmed apartment on rue Eugene Lisbonne.)
As the trip drew closer, and our discussions and plans more frequent, I started to notice the ways in which that year had been different for all of us. Our daydreams about the trip were revealing. Debbie was prepared to spend every day at the beach, as was Elizabeth. Allen and I hadn’t even given a thought to taking the bus to Palavas and the Mediterranean. Allen expressed an interest in visiting our old campus. I was entirely focused on listing all the places I hoped to eat.
I came to Montpellier when I was 19, and I’ve turned 27 this week. It will be different (and I would want it to be different). And yet – we’re pulling into the station now, and I can see the familiar orange and green tiles. I’m scanning the crowd for Debbie and Elizabeth; we haven’t planned to meet, but I somehow know they’ll be there. And it will all be just exactly the same.