Saturday, July 31, 2010

Corn fed, sun soaked: A few days in Michigan in photos.

I always forget how tall the trees are here in Michigan until I'm standing under them.
Lila and Joe's neighborhood is a great one for tree gazing and walking and running

Hydrangeas the size of your head.

Joe and Reed fight for a ball.  Joe is 80.  Reed is 3.
Sam whoops Emilie in tennis.
Skyler took this great photo of her Grandpa Joe.
Emilie's favorite beer.

Typical Manhart meal (I skipped the meat)
Skyler is intense about her corn.
Thumbs up for Michigan corn.
Wonder where she got it.
Sam is a corn snob.  He'll only give a thumbs up for the real deal. 
double dipper.
spider man.
More tomorrow!

Friday, July 30, 2010

vacation mode.

Michigan is a lovely place to be on vacation.  The trees are so tall, the corn is so good, and the temperature in Lake Michigan has never been this perfect.  Also, my in-laws have this ginormous white Oldsmobile (nicknamed "the whale") that I love to drive around town.  It's so big and floaty and you can steer it with your pinky finger. 

I have a million photos to download, but I also am way out of my routine and not spending much time near a computer.  I'll update tomorrow.  So far there has been a lot of eating, but also running and taking the great strength training/ pilates class at the cute little gym in town.  Lisa, Sam's twin sister who lives in Japan, arrived today and we are kindred spirits in the way we like to spend our time here.  We have a list of movies we want to rent, food we want to make, and a bunch of running routes planned.  And tomorrow, we run to the gym for the strength training class, go out for coffee, hit the farmer's market, and then take everyone to the beach. 

I plowed through the amazing book Born to Run (review to come soon) and will start my second book tomorrow.  Is this happening?  Am I dreaming?  I feel like I'm speaking again to my long-lost friend, myself, the one who use to have her nose in a book all day. 

It's really nice to remove yourself from your own house, just for the lack of chores and kitchen and laundry-folding time.  Off to read myself to sleep.

Looks like Jackson is doing okay too, huh? This golden shot was sent to me by my friends who are watching him. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beaching it.

We hit the Lake Michigan beach (4.4 miles from the house)  yesterday when it looked like a storm was brewing, but it never came.  Instead, we had a breezy, comfortable stretch of time on an almost empty beach.

I dare to even say this out loud, but here it is:  the kids are so much easier all of a sudden!  They have been so happy and good so far.  The flights here were even sort of lovely and calm.  At the beach, they entertained themselves for hours digging giant holes, and then Sam took them each out into the lake for wave diving.  Last year, they were scared of the waves.  This year, they went right after it.

Skyler collected lady bugs and Lila looked on lovingly.

Joe took walks with Reed, helped Skyler dig, and for about 20 minutes, I actually sat in a beach chair and read my book.  Friends, I thought this day would never come.

 Sam went out for a swim, and the three Manhart women on the beach were worried.  It was choppy and potentially stormy when he headed out, and we lost sight of him after a while.  Skyler was especially nervous about it, so she was waving like a madwoman when he popped up out of the waves.

Growing up, we spent our vacations on the North Carolina beaches, and I vividly and fondly remember two things:  bobbing around in the ocean while clinging to the broad arms and shoulders of my dad, just like Skyler is here.

And being cold and wet and wrapping up in a fluffy towel just like Reedo is here. 

This is what we'll be doing every day for the next 7 days.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

At the airport

Going over the rules of travel with the kids, I said:  "You always stay with us, but if you get lost, what do you do?"

Reed:  "Find another mommy."

Me:  "Right.  And what do you say."

Reed:  "Sorry!"

And Skyler, who is soooooo excited to get to Michigan:  "I hope I don't wake up and realize I was only dreaming."

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's for Dinner?

{Oh yeah, did you see my guest post on Marathon Mama?
In celebration of my essay, I had a great run today and smiled every time I hopped over an acorn.}

So, here's a dinner idea:
The credit for this one goes to my friend Susan.  While sitting in the middle of the blueberry bushes last week with her on Bald Mountain, we were talking about zucchinis, and she told me about a recipe she recreated from something she saw in a restaurant.

Do you still have a ton of zucchini?  We do, and I'm making this one again tonight.  If you love zucchini, but don't totally love the texture of it when it's just sliced and sauteed, like me, you'll love this recipe.

Zucchini Ribbons with Ricotta and Mint

First, take a few zucchinis, approximately 1-2 zucchini per person, and with a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini into ribbons.  When you get to the seedy middle, you can discard that part.

Toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread it out on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.  don't leave it in too long, or it just starts to shrink down to nothing.

Then make a little pile on your plate, and while it's still hot, add a scoop of cold ricotta cheese and top with chopped mint. Such a fresh flavor.   It tastes like you are eating summer itself.

Mine was served with some prosciutto-wrapped melon.  Sam's was also served with a side of two chicken sausages. 

I'm off to make some zucchini ribbons, do laundry and pack.  Tomorrow we fly to Michigan for a week with the Michigan Manharts, which means hours on the beach of Lake Michigan, new running routes, tons of fresh food, beers on the patio,  and aunt and grandparent love for the kids.  Jackson is staying home with housesitters.   I'll be blogging from there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Running with the Big Blogs

This summer, I worked on a writing piece that started with the blog posts I did about the Vermont City Marathon in May, turned into a much longer essay, and then redefined itself again into a shorter, more stream-lined piece about mental demons and running.  You'll recognize a few sentences from the post-marathon blog posts.

And only a few of you know how much this really means to me, but the outcome of all that work is a collaboration with Kristina Pinto, aka Marathon Mama, who writes a blog for, a website that offers experts' advice on running, cycling and triathloning, as well as hosts blogs for some of the best athletes in each sport.

Kristina's is the first professional blog that I ever followed, and I've read every post of hers over the last few years. She is a running coach in Massachusetts whose writing career has taken some exciting turns; recently she was published in Runner's World and Women's Running Magazine.  She's not only a badass runner, she's also hilarious, opinionated, gutsy, and unafraid to face her challenges with running in a way that benefits all of us.  She's been an inspiration to me as a runner and a writer, so this is a very exciting day for me.  If you don't already read her blog, you'll want to start today.

Without further ado, here I am, blogging on my favorite blog:  To the Next Acorn

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Race Report: The Mud Mile

Good thing I have photos of this, because I wouldn't be able to capture what a cool, weird, adventurous day we had.  Are you ready for a very bizarre "race" report?

Christine and I drove to MDI to catch a ferry to Cranberry Island.  After a series of humorous missteps, we finally got to the right spot in Southwest Harbor to catch the right ferry.  We got on the boat with our bikes.

It was socked in with fog, but because this whole day was totally story-book Maine, the fog was rather fitting.  Cranberry Island is the home to about 60 people, with a general store and a small school.  We were both fascinated by the idea of living on an island. The whole day felt just like we stepped into One Morning in Maine.  There were cute people doing cute things everywhere, like little families with their dog heading back to the island with a fresh stock of groceries, and like this cute old man, paddling into the mist.

We wanted to stop everyone and ask:  "What's it like to have to take a boat to your home?  And are you happy out there?" 

We talked a lot about how romantic it all seemed, but wondered if it felt quaint and adorable or isolated?  Maybe both?

Leaving MDI behind.  It was a 20 minute boat ride to the town dock on Cranberry Isle.

Then a 2-mile bike ride.
I'll try not to overuse the word "cute."  But it was so cute.  There were cedar shake cottages all along the ocean, and I swear that every house had a bright, colorful garden, and every house had bikes leaning up against the porch.  I just wanted to move in, brew some coffee, and sit on the porch to write. 

At the end of the road, we came out to the mud flats, which is the exposed ocean floor at low tide.  There was a giant bonfire on the beach and a motley crew of runners, hippies and generally colorful folk.

See that guy with the loin cloth and beer can outfit blowing the horn?  Remember him for later.

Okay, we were ready to go, and ready to get dirty.   The "race" director stood on a rock and yelled:  "If you are here for an athletic event, you have come to the wrong place!  This isn't an athletic event!  We don't know what it is, or why it is, but here we are!"  And then a few minutes later, to gather everyone for the start, he yelled:  "Okay!  Everyone who is doing this, come this way..."  It was officially unofficial.  It was quirky!

Here we are heading out into the mud to start.  Pretty quickly, we realized how hard it is to move through the mud.  It's that thick, suctiony kind of mud that tries to hold onto your shoes.  I think that it looks really gross when looking at these photos, but it really wasn't gross at all.  It didn't smell bad, like some mud flats, and it was, as if this makes any sense, kind of clean mud.

Off we go!  (A kind non-mud-runner kept my camera for me and took some shots)
The course had orange cones (can you see them?) and we had to do 4 laps around the course to equal one mile.  Before Christine and I got to the first cone, we were breathing really heavy and could barely move forward.  You couldn't run through this stuff... way too thick.  It was hilarious.  We were covered in mud up to our hips before one minute had passed, and it was fun to get so dirty.  We ended up laughing and fast-walking the whole way.

Some people actually stopped after the first lap, and most people stopped after the second lap.  They all just laid themselves down in the mud and watched the rest of us keep plodding through.  We were going to "run" the whole mile!  The guy with the loin cloth took it upon himself to make sure that everyone got really muddy, and if he perceived that you weren't muddy enough, he tried to knock you down.  He body checked me from behind during our 2nd lap, but he somehow didn't knock me over.  He was a drunk man on a mission to muddify all the women out there.  We didn't find him to be funny at all, and luckily he didn't hurt us, but he did knock down two other women who were bleeding at the end of the race.  BLEEDING!

Christine and I mucked through the whole mile, and except for the drunk ass incident, we had a blast, and in fact, it was an awesome workout.  It was hard work!  Who knew?  After our fourth lap, we wiped mud on each other's faces and headed back to the beach.  Done!

Ha!  That's not gatorade, that's beer.

Once again, I know this looks disgusting, but it felt kind of cool and soothing.  We kept pointing at each other and laughing.

On the other side of the grassy knoll from where we were standing was open ocean water without the mud.  We climbed over there and went swimming to wash off the mud.  That mud did not really wash off, and there was more laughing at how dirty we were and how funny this whole day was.  We changed into clean clothes on the beach, hung out by the fire for a while, and then we were ready to bike back to the ferry.

We only had to wait 10 minutes for the next boat back to MDI, and then we were very ready for the Little Notch Bakery for dinner.  And I got to fantasize about opening a bakery while we waited for our food.  Every good race ends with a satisfying meal, and this one was no different.  Grilled chicken on foccacia with garlic aoili.  Chocolate chip cookie.  Hot coffee.

I'll call this a huge success:  a beautiful day with Christine, a quaint island experience, a muddy workout, and a good story to tell.

evidence of a successful summer

Yesterday we spent a glorious day on Schoodic Lake with the Carvers.  And I forgot my camera.  To which everyone responded all at once:  "WHAAAAAAT?"  This photo-obsessed blogger, who goes to the grocery store with my camera, forgot to bring it to our most favorite summer spot.   I have a little bit of video, and I have my memories, and I probably relaxed a bit more because I wasn't following everyone around with a camera in their face.  But I'll do better next time.


If I were to take inventory of our summer so far, I'd have to say: so far so good.

Here is what we've got.

very dirty faces.

roasting marshmallows on the patio.
staying in your bathing suit all day.

enormous vegetables.

a respectable shell collection.

a panting dog.

fresh summer snacks.

dinner on the patio.  broccoli from the farm.

the perfect golden triple stack.

endless hours by the water.

and quiet time.

And PROOF that all is right with the world.  My 5-year old's view of our summer life.  Chaise lounge, umbrella, book, and drinks for all our friends.

I can't say that I've gotten all the reading, planning, and projects done that I had hoped, but on all other accounts, yes, so far so good.

p.s.  I think I got some of you too excited about the writing piece I alluded to.  No magazine publishing yet, but this is a baby step.  I'll show you on Monday.