Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Layer of Pipes, a Layer of Gravel....

A week or two ago the excavation equipment arrived at the lot. The asbestos was abated, and then the old house was torn down. I’m glad I saved what plants I could, because dirt moving equipment has removed most of the vegetation. We have saved a couple of trees, and a large flower bed in what will eventually be the front yard, but that's about it.

Now there are stakes in the ground that delineate our future home, large pieces of gravel dumped where the driveway will one day be, ditches are dug with pipes leading to wells and sewers, and today, pea gravel is being spread where the concrete pad will soon reside.

Its very different building a house without a basement. All the plumbing and stuff like that has to go under the slab, and the slab has to be insulated, otherwise in a cold climate like this our house would soon be heaving up and down as the ground around us freezes and thaws.

Looking at the outline of the house right now it looks really small to me, but that's just an illusion. Once the framing starts it will seem large enough I’m sure.

We are already behind schedule, but I’m not surprised. There are always the unexpected when you build a house. in our case it took much longer to get our building permit than we thought it would. And oh by the way, you need a tree preservation and replacement plan! And your front porch is one foot wider than what is allowed! And on and on....

Its kind of nice to see equipment moving around on the lot today. It makes it seem like something is happening. That's a strange thing about house building. It mostly consists of sudden frenetic activity, and then periods of….nothing. I like the active parts! The other parts, not so much.

The Front Flower Bed I Saved

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Minnesota Half Marathon

I ran the Minnesota Half Marathon in St. Paul on August 4th. I’ve now run 11 half marathons since 2009. Half’s are nothing to be trifled with, but they don’t have as much of a mental challenge as a full so I have to guard against being complacent. They are still hard.

I felt prepared for this race. My training for the Twin Cities Marathon in October is going well, I’m heat acclimated, I’m making my peace with my slower times this year. I’m trying as hard as I can, it’s just not translating into much in the shorter races. I still have hope for Twin Cities though, weather permitting. So much of a marathon is in planning and mental preparation. We’ll see! 

Anyway the Minnesota Half was held in downtown St. Paul along the river. It’s a very pretty course but hillier than I thought it would be. No steep hills but lots of rolling up and down. Its part of a race series. Next year I might do the series and get a hoodie!

It had an early start time, 7:15 AM.  No complaints there for an August race, but that meant I was up at 3:30 AM and on the road by 5. Despite the GPS insisting that I take Shepherd Blvd which was closed because of the race, I was parking at the Science Museum before 6 am. 

It was an easy walk to the starting area from the Museum parking lot, and I had and plenty of time to use the porta potties multiple times before the start of the race.

This race had inline skaters racing too, they started first, about 15 minutes before the runners. Since it was an out and back we runners could see them zooming by, very cool.

I used a 60/30 run/walk interval for the entire race, doing 20 extra steps whenever I got behind my pace, and starting my pace checks over with the start of each mile. I still lagged behind my goal for most of the race but that’s the way it’s been for me all summer whether because of the heat, humidity or plain old age who knows.

I was able to really keep pushing until the last two miles when exhaustion forced me to dial it back a little. I poured it back on for the last half mile however so at least I finished strong. And no problems with my breathing either thank goodness. I actually went to see a speech therapist about the problem I've been having with my breathing last week. My new primary care physician thought it actually was a problem with my vocal cords collapsing in extremely stressful situations, or as a reaction to a sudden change in temperature. It turns out the speech therapist agreed with her. She thinks I have something called Vocal Cord Disfunction, or VCD. Its causes people’s vocal cords to “cramp up” in certain situations. The solution is some breathing exercises that the speech therapist taught me. The exercises will help my vocal cords to relax when and if this happens again. I’ve been practicing them and I think its going to work, since consciously relaxing does make it better.

After the race I got my nice medal and a bunch of goodies, including a banana, chips, energy bar, apple, fruit in a squeeze bottle, and a nut bar. I could have gotten frozen yogurt too but it didn’t appeal. I very slowly made my way back to my car, and drove home. I was really tired, but not very sore. I mostly lazed around Saturday afternoon, rousing myself enough to take the dogs for a walk, but that was about it. When I went to bed I slept for 10 hours, so I really WAS tired!

I’m pretty back to normal today (Sunday) but no running is on the agenda until Tuesday. Then it’s back to work! Oh and by the way I won my age group, first out of 2 women age 65-69. Sigh. Where have all the old lady runners gone? I was the third oldest woman in this race. There was one woman in 70-74. There were 10 men in age 65-69 and one man in 70-74. Maybe I need to start a running club - Minnesota Runner’s 65+!

Monday, August 6, 2018

A California Wedding in LA for Teddy and Chris and a Visit to Daniel and Kelsey in San Fran

On Thursday afternoon I take the dogs to Doggiedoo in Shakopee, MN. They spent an afternoon there a month ago and I’ve had a tour and it seems nice and gets good reviews. But it’s not Diane, or even Free Dog and I can’t help but worry about my babies. But we’re going to my cousin Mark’s son Teddy’s wedding in LA, Teddy and Chris. I’m excited because I will get to see lots of my cousins.

It’s much better flying from Minnesota to California, only 4 hours instead of 7, a 2 hour time difference instead of 3. We get to LAX at noon pacific time and we’re at our hotel by 2. We’re staying at the Miyako hotel in Little Tokyo, practically in downtown LA. We’ve never been to downtown LA, or Little Tokyo. Downtown LA isn’t very big, but the heart of it could be Manhattan, tall tall buildings, busy streets, hotels, restaurants, diversity. Who knew!

Little Tokyo is nice, a little taste of Japan. We drop off our bags and head right across the street for ramen, pretty good too. Then we settle down in the room for a nap.

The rehearsal dinner is at something called the Ahmanson Senior Center, an airy room with an attached garden. They have name tags for everyone and it’s a good thing because there are a lot of people there all with complicated relationships with the bride and groom. Chris belongs to a large Mexican family and there are people there that are primarily Spanish speakers. Everything is being conducted bilingually, including the trivia game we play after dinner.

Dinner is tacos with all the fixings. There is beer, wine, water and soda to drink, and some fruit punch as well. Since it is Friday night, there is also a little challah at each table. Pretty cute.

We barely make it through trivia and the amazing ice cream sandwiches for dessert before we have to say goodbye for the evening and go back to the hotel. Even a 2 hour time change is hard for us old people.

In the morning I manage to sleep until 6 and then go for a 6 mile run. I head west for a couple miles until things start to seem a little sketchy. Then I backtrack, but turn towards downtown and run about a mile through the heart of the city before I head back to the hotel.

I’m hot and sweaty but even though it’s close to 80 it’s not that bad because the humidity is very low. I’m ready for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich so I head to Starbucks, and there are Michael, Lisa and Jim! So I text Lee and we sit in the shade and have fun chatting.

After a shower we walk through the shops nearby, then pick a bento box place for lunch. Very good! Then we check out the Japanese American History Museum across the street. Very interesting with lots of information about the internment camps during WW II. Shameful American history. All I could think, considering the current climate in this country is that some things never change.

Back to the hotel for another nap. Around 3:45 we head to Millbank for the wedding, a venue only a few blocks from the hotel. The ceremony is in an open courtyard, half sun, half shade. The sun is sunny and hot so everyone hides on the shady side, except a few of us that try to be nice and balance things out and therefore sweat like crazy through the entire ceremony. The ceremony is a creative blend of Jewish and Mexican-Catholic traditions. There is a chuppah, a lasso, the breaking of the glass. There are the Hebrew blessings, the Lord’s Prayer. Very unique and different.

After the ceremony we hang out and wait for the room to be ready for the reception, drinking margaritas and beer. We sit at a table with my cousin Barbie and her sons, my aunts and uncles, some friends of Mark and Amy from Newton. Later there’s lots of dancing, fun and charming toasts in English and Spanish, film clips of dancing from famous movies. It’s Hollywood after all!

We leave around 10 and make our way back to the hotel.


In the morning we get to the airport easily for a short flight to San Francisco where Dan and Kelsey pick us up at the airport. The weather is cool and sunny, radically different from LA. We go to a park with food trunks in the Presidio, eat mini donuts, then walk down to Chrissy field and watch the wind and kite surfers. The wind is brisk and some of them are just flying across the water.

Then we make a dinner reservation at Central Market. We hang out at the bar next door, Trick Dog, which specializes in very esoteric cocktails. I get one with scotch and lemon and other weirder ingredients that is good, strong but good. Lee just gets his standard martini, Daniel gets something simple with vodka, but Kelsey gets one of the weirder tasting cocktails I have ever experienced. It tasted like something a bit rotten frankly. She drank it, and I was impressed!

Central Market was yummy. We got fry bread with burrata, and various pastas. Everyone had good stuff, but I thought my squid ink pasta was pretty awesome.

On Monday I got up around 5:30 and by 7 I was out the door for my run. So nice to run in the 50’s, foggy and cool. I run for 60 minutes using a 30/30 run/walk interval. Then I'm supposed to run 2 minutes at a 10k pace and then 2 minutes at a marathon pace, 8 times. But I miscalculated and thought 24 minutes was 8 repetitions when it was actually it was only 6. Fucking math! But no biggie, it was actually plenty, 8 miles total, a good workout, and we did lots and lots of walking later on.

After an avocado toast snack and a shower we are out the door and off to get dim sum at Hong Kong Lounge. We’re going back to our old favorite after experimenting with Oakland dim sum last year . Maybe next time we’ll try Din Tai Fung however. Daniel says they’ve got their dumplings down so it’s worth a shot.

Afterwards, crazy stuffed as usual, we make our way over to the Embaradero and stoll around. First we look at the mushroom shop. Lee stares longingly but doesn’t think he can get them home in one piece so no. We look at bread, cheese, touristy this and that. Then we decide to climb up the steps to Hoyt tower. It’s very beautiful and a lot of steps too. It sunny but windy at the top with gorgeous views of the bay and the Golden Gate bridge.

Back down the step we go to get some coffee. We sit by the Ferry Building for a bit, boat and people watching, and then get some wine, beer and oysters for an afternoon snack at Hog Island. The oysters are good, west coast varieties, large and briny. I get a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to go with it. They include loaves of yummy French baguettes and keep bringing them out until we finally have to tell them to stop. 

Then its back to Daniel’s where we relax for awhile. Lee opens a bottle of the party favor beer from the wedding. It’s a porter so I like it, but I only have a few sips. I think Lee has a lot of it and gets a bit drunk.

Around 7 we head up the hill to the great little french restaurant a couple of blocks from Daniel’s apartment. We have to wait a little for a table. I get a glass of cab franc that’s pretty darn good. I’m just a wine girl at heart what can I say? We are seated outside. It’s chilly so I ask them to turn on the heater and then we are toasty. The street is very steep but somehow they adjust the table legs so our food and drinks don’t go sliding down the hill and after awhile we forget that we’re sitting on an incline.

I get the mussels, and frites of course. It’s very good. Another glass of the cab as well. And dessert! I get the chocolate mousse, but Kelsey gets an apple tart with ice cream and caramel sauce that is totally out of this world. 

Tuesday morning I go for another run, this time with 7 hill repeats. I pick a street that’s not too steep, but it’s not long enough so I continue up around the corner and have to march rapidly up the last part of the hill instead of running it. It’s gets my heart rate up so I guess it’s ok. Then for the two mile cool down I run around Potrero Hill, which is so crazy steep in spots I can’t run either up OR down. 

Then it’s pho for brunch. Kelsey and Dan like a place in the tenderloin. It’s simple but excellent pho. It comes in small, medium, and large bowls. I get a medium but I think a small would have been fine. Kelsey and Daniel get their meat on the side so it doesn’t cook as much, an interesting choice I may try sometime in the future.

Afterwards we go to Baker Beach but it’s pretty foggy and windy so we don’t stay long. Then we stop for some Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission. Then we go buy Pliny the Elder beer from the Russian River for Lee to take back to Minnesota, and then go back to Dan’s apartment to chill for awhile. I’m tired today.

For dinner we go to a Thai restaurant called Kin Khau that Kelsey and Daniel discovered by accident one day. It’s got a Michelin Star but they just walked in and got a seat. Its Thai all right but special. We get nice cocktails, a mushroom mousse with rice crackers, pork belly with sticky rice, massaman curry.

That’s about it for our very nice trip to Cally. It’s exciting that Daniel and Kelsey are coming for a visit in September. It’s also very exciting that Kelsey has a new job so I can finally post pictures of her too!


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