Sunday, July 31, 2011


Real post will follow, but after 7 months of training, my work friend, Dana, and I finished the San Francisco Half Marathon! Ed ran the marathon in an impressive 3:27; Dana and my running group wasn't last :). 

I'm super sore, but felt pretty good for the ending. We've already signed up for the Oakland Marathon (it was a bargain at $40 and we couldn't resist) - training for that will begin in November. 

But, for now, we can enjoy this great accomplishment!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Going East: Grounds for Sculpture

Our first big excursion in New Jersey was to visit the beautiful, "Grounds for Sculpture" - an old fairground repurposed as a lush outdoor museum full of hundreds and hundreds of sculptures.

One of the primary benefactors of the grounds, and consequently (?) one of the most featured artists here makes life-like sculptures, some of "ordinary people" and some as 3D recreations of famous paintings. As Hilary said, they might not be "great" art, but they are certainly crowd pleasers.

I really liked this one, since at first glance it seems like an actual couple who is sharing a romantic moment.

One of the ponds had these enormous flowing plants - they almost didn't seem real.

There were all types of sculptures there.

This one is very "meta" - it's renoir (?) painting this painting...

And in front of him, the actual scene from the painting.

Phil really enjoyed it :)

The pond was beautiful.

There was a great hammock - but Phil didn't like that as much.

Ed, however, found it the perfect spot for resting. What's funny, with those realistic statues all over, when someone is doing something motionless, like Ed was, it makes other people wonder whether he's real or a statue.

Another very sweet couple embracing. 

This was a great respite from the heat. It was called something like "room of inner dialogue." It had lots of air conditioning blasting, and was lovely.

Outside, it had the convex versions of the interior convave artwork. 

Ed and I took a brief walk in the forest of the subconcious (where we, I guess unsurprisingly, got lost)

And took a quick look at the restaurant "Ratatouille" (possibly misspelled).

I just loved this weeping willow.

Another 3D "painting".

I thought this was very pretty (especially with the built in misters) with the lush landscape (if a bit on the scandelous side).

Walking around the grounds are lots of peacocks. This mama had her little baby in tow.

There were also the more traditionally colored males around.

And even an albino peacock!

After all that walking around, we were a tired bunch, so home we headed for some delicious lunch and relaxation. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Going East: New Jersey Visiting

As the alarm sounded at four in the morning, Ed and I groggily forced our eyes open, turned on the lights, and began the final steps to be ready to leave on our big summer trip. We had taken care of most of the details the night before, but we still had to make our breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, and finish packing those last one or two things. 

At 4:40, Ed's phone rang, letting us know that our shuttle was less than 15 minutes away, and before we knew it, we were on our way out. 

About 4 minutes away from home, Ed turned to me. "So, I'm about 90% sure I forgot to pack my pants for the wedding," Ed said. Oops. 

From the beginning, this was a trip about learning how to be flexible, especially when things were out of our control. 

We picked up one other passenger (though our driver had trouble finding her at first). I was stressed out a little, as Ed had "doctored" our flight time when he booked the shuttle so that we wouldn't get there unduly early, and I worried we would end up cutting it too close. I could mostly make out the times the other passengers were due to be picked up, and the third one had the same time as our flight. Luckily, that passenger was picked up after we got dropped at the airport, and we had plenty of time before our lovely 6:30am flight. 

The first leg of our trip took us from San Jose to Denver, Colorado and it wasn't a very full flight, so Ed and I got a whole row to ourselves. We were sleepy but excited to be on our way. 

Not too far into the trip, we were already flying over the Sierras, and were gifted with a beautiful view of a lake (perhaps Mono?) 

Once the flight landed, and most of the passengers departed, we were encouraged to grab ourselves some better seats for the 4 1/2 hour second flight. Needless to say, we moved ourselves up to the first row, where we had over double the leg room, and could still enjoy having the window seat without feeling "trapped" in. 

Now, coming into this, we had 4 drink coupons burning a hole in our pockets that we had every intention of using on the flight. However, going on 3 hours of sleep, plus the early hour meant that neither of us felt like having alcohol. Ed will, surely have a use for them for some work travel, so we didn't feel too badly abstaining. 

The second part of the flight seemed surprisingly quick, and before we knew it, we were flying over New Jersey - a surprising (to me) beautiful, heavily wooded state. Once we got closer to the airport, it definitely got more urban, but the part further out look gorgeous. As we began our descent, one of our flight attendents began serenading us with a song - pretty cool. 

The next phase our our travel was via train and, after grabbing our bags, we headed to the trains. Now, we had two train times, the "goal" time of 4:37 and the "practical" time of 5:15. When we reached the ticket machines, we had a bit of trouble getting it to take our cards, and I became increasily stressed, thinking we were purchasing tickets for the 4:37 train. 

We got our tickets and I rushed to board the "train" with Ed trailing behind. Once we got on and the doors shut, I realized two things. First, this wasn't the train, this was the tram that took us to the train station. Second, our tickets were not for a specific time. I took a few breaths, relaxed, and was able to see my first view of the New York skyline. 

While it was super hot outside, the station had this great waiting room with air conditioning that made the wait more than comfortable. We called our friends, Steven and Hilary, to let them know that we were going to be on the 5:15, and before we knew it, we were on our way to Princeton. 

Steven and Hilary are friends that Ed has known for a while, but I've only known since they've lived across the country, which means that I haven't gotten to spend all that much time  with them, so Ed and I were really looking forward to spending three days with them. 

Our first evening, we were treated to culinary delights that left Ed inspired (to the point that once we were home, Ed insisted that we try to partially recreate some of these meals). When we got there, we had caprese (mozzerella, tomato, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil), which was perfect after a long day of travel. 

Once we got our fill, we went with Hilary to take her son, Phil to the pool, and after, it was time for a bit of rest, and then dinner. Steven made us a delicious meal of polenta, sausage, and kale (after this, Ed insisted we find kale at the farmer's market and recreate the kale and polenta at home). We ate outside, once the heat and humidity of the day calmed down, and I was treated with my first (and only) sight of a firefly! It really was magical. While I don't, as a rule, like bugs, fireflies were every bit as special as I imagined. 

Our last event of the night was, as is typical among our group of friends, was a board game, and, for this night, I was taught a new one, "Settlers of Catan." While I very much sucked this first night, I had a great time, learned how to play, and enjoyed a delicious glass of chocolate raspberry wine. As the hour turned late, Ed and I finally headed to bed, very happy and glad to be on the East Coast. 

4th of July

Yes, this is pretty belated, but the important thing is I'm slowly but surely getting caught up :). 

Usually, Ed and I don't do anything for the 4th. In fact, I'm not sure that I've done any kind of 4th celebration with Ed before. However, when I got a groupon email about a 4th of July concert half off, I convinced Ed that it would be fun to actually go out and see some fireworks. 

We didn't want to deal with parking at Shoreline, so we parked on a side street about 15 minutes away. 

On our walk over, we saw a very unusual statues outside of a building - I would have loved to take a closer look, but we wanted to get to the concert. 

It was surprisingly easy picking up our Groupon tickets and, before we knew it, we were in our very good seats. 

While you couldn't bring any drinks with you (the only exception was one factory sealed water bottle per person), they had plenty for sale. We settled on a bottle of wine, which was poured into a plastic carafe so that we could bring it to our seats. It was a lovely treat and made the evening feel even more special. 

Soon, the seats began filling in and the music got started. 

The theme of the show was "The golden state to the silver screen"and there was a lot of good music. It started with "western" style music - the kind of frontier music you see in western movies. One of the highlights was Casey at the Bat, read by the Giants game announcer. Then, it moved onto the beach boys and ET (though ET was brought down when the family behind us did nothing as their 2 month old baby was crying. Now, I totally get why this baby was crying. I just can't believe that parents would bring such a young child to a very loud, very late outdoor concert. And, I can't' believe that when their child began crying loudly during the concert, they didn't think to get out of their seats and move to the periphery of the theater until she was calmed down). 

After intermission, they brought down a screen and ran old cartoons with the next songs (betty boop, popeye, etc.). This was very cool, except during intermission, two women showed up in the seats in front of us who literally talked through the whole songs! One even made a phone call during one. I just don't understand why people think it's okay to be so disrespectful to the musicians that they paid good money to see just because the concert is outdoors. I think perhaps because these were "groupon" seats, the talkers weren't normal concert goers, but it was just ridiculous. Finally, Ed and I decided to move to some open seats to our right that gave us a bit of space from them, as I was getting angrier by the moment. 

Once we moved, I was able to enjoy the last few songs. But, the best part of the show was yet to come! After the last song, they announced the start of fireworks and then, with the lights dimmed, with melodies of star wars singing out, the first of the fireworks began. 

They. Were. Spectacular!

As the song ended, I had a huge grin plastered on my face and was ready to go, when "Stars and Stripes" began playing and phase two started up!! Surprised but happy, I was again taken aback by how fun the fireworks were. Now, I don't know if its just been a long time since I've seen fireworks, but they were so huge and amazing and I was just blown away by how beautiful they were. 

As the last note faded to silence, I, again, began preparing to leave when a new song suddenly began. 1812 overture, of course. And, one last time, I stared into the sky, feeling like I was 5 years old and seeing fireworks for the first time. 

Around the House and Anniversary

When we were hanging around the house, I was doing a lot of this:

and this:

I had so so much fun playing with my baby niece. If only she and her parents didn't live so far away!

Ed wasn't getting at much time with her as I was, and he mentioned that he'd enjoy giving her a bottle, so the next time she needed one, she was all his. 

Of course, she chose this time to be super wiggly and distracted, and Ed didn't have the peaceful bottle experience that I usually get to experience.

Still, the picture below has to be one of my all time favorites of Ed.

Another one of our activities while we were up here was painting birdhouses.  A long time ago, we had all painted birdhouses for my parents' backyard, and my mom and dad decided it was time for a new installment.

Ed and I decided to go with a bay area themed birdhouse - Ed planned the design and I carried it out. On the front and back we did the bridge towers. On this side, you can (hopefully) tell that it's the San Francisco skyline with fog (and perhaps the forests of the marin headlands in the foreground?).

The other side is supposed to be mount tam, though geographically that doesn't exactly make sense with the golden gate. Oh well, it still looks pretty. 

We're proud of our creation and are looking forward to seeing it up the next time we visit.

Our last afternoon, we played some very fun games of ping pong in the garage. We used to play this all the time as kids, and, as a family, we are very silly when it comes to this game. We were almost constantly laughing. What made it even more fun was that Amelia was out there watching and was getting such a kick out of seeing us play (and laugh). She was giggling up a storm and just having a great time watching us - she was totally amused for almost 45 minutes of ping pong playing!

After that heavy excursion, I read some on the beautiful deck as I soaked in the last afternoon. 

That night, Ed and I celebrated our real first anniversary, and went out for margaritas (very fancy :) ). I forgot to mention earlier, but my parents gifted Ed and I (and also my sister and her husband, whose anniversary is a year and a day before ours) with a stay at a place of our choosing and a dinner out. We're saving it for my birthday, but that means that the celebration of our anniversary will continue into September!

As we drove down the mountain to the restaurant,  we were gifted with a beautiful sunset over the lake on our drive down from the cabin.

Then, we just got to enjoy relaxing in each other's company. Can you tell which drink was mine and which one was Ed's? The only sad part was that the place we ended up at closed pretty early, so our evening date wasn't as long as I would have liked. 

Still, it was nice to have a little bit of a celebration, in preview of our real one at home later. 

And, that was basically the end of our trip! 

Before I finish these recaps, I would be remiss if I didn't share some more pictures of the beautiful cabin.

Our lovely room downstairs (especially awesome because of the plastered walls - why? see below)

The bunk beds, where my sister Kortney slept.

Now, one thing I didn't mention that was pretty funny, was the extra visitors who shared the cabin with us. If you know me in real life, you might know that when I was younger (and a little still today), I was petrified of flying insects and, especially, moths. Right after we arrived at the cabin, my parents informed me that the cabin had a "little" issue with them - as in, the cabin was infested and, come nightfall, hundreds would, quite literary, come out of the woodwork. That first night, we went for a hike, and when we came back, the 20 foot tall windows were completely coated with moths, hundreds and hundreds of moths. 

(Source) Sadly, I didn't take any pictures. So, imagine this, but about triple the moths per square foot, and you have some idea. Keep in mind twenty foot ceilings, with the windows spanning probably 15 feet wide. 

While it was certainly overwhelming to see so many at once, I happily discovered that they didn't necessarily bother me that much more than they bothered everyone else. However, when we briefly tried to turn on the overhead lights and the moths took flight en masse, I was a little bothered, but so long as they stayed on the windows we were good. 

My dad tried a new method to deal with them (that Ed and I had actually previously used on flies in our house) - sucking them up with the hose of a vaccuum cleaner. This worked surprisingly well, and the next nights, the showing was much much smaller (though my sister and her husband didn't completely believe our claims since they didn't seem them). My dad found sucking up the critters pretty satisfying and the rest of the nights, he would want to get up every few minutes to do moth control. The moths really liked the tv and would like to crawl around on the screen while we watched movies, which was pretty funny sometimes, if a little distracting. 

There was also another creature who we heard of but didn't officially know was there until the end of the trip. The last morning I asked my mom how she slept and she responded by saying that, "he didn't tell me, but your father has apparently known for some time that the bat in the house has been living in our room!" Apparently the night before, she had awoken to the sound of wings flapping and gliding through the bedroom air (possibly in pursuit of the moths). 

So, for these reasons, I was thrilled that we were in a plaster walled room that Ed could check for any manner of flying creatures before we went to bed. 

The next morning, as we drove down the mountain and back home, we were treated with some lovely views as our last memories of the this trip.