Sunday, June 29, 2008

This week has been crazy, and we are just finally getting our heads above water. Everyone is fine, we just had some rough times. And unfortunately, this prevented me from honoring my amazing mother's birthday with the enthusiasm it deserves. So a little blog post will have to suffice until I can give her a big hug and lots of presents later this week.

My mother has an extraordinary life in which she is the center of many people's universes, never fails to forget an old friend and welcome them into her home and make them feel incredibly important, runs a business and can keep up intellectually with the heads of many many fields, and yet she is totally humble and always worried that she isn't doing her best. She always feels their is more she could be giving, learning, teaching. She demands the best from herself, but never expects anything from others.

But she deserves it. She deserves my thanks for all the wonderful advice, amazing adventures, and solid foundation she has given me. We have had some lovely times together and I look forward to many more. Happy Birthday Mom!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I've been tagged. And I am bored waiting for an enzyme digest to finish, so here we go!

1. What did you do 10 years ago?

Ten years ago I was just finishing my freshman year of highschool. I had just decided that I really needed to be on the soccer team, although I had no prior experience and played for hours in the Smart and Final parking lot across from my friends house with her and her brothers. I made varsity my junior year! I also spent the summer riding my beloved horse Evan, surfing a ton, and taking lots of long walks on the beach with my wonderful friends. We were so innocent and goofy, it was a wonderful summer.

2. Five items on your to-do list:

1. Get my last construct cloned so I can have them all sequenced and make sure it worked, and then do lots of fun experiments!
2. Write in my lab notebook before I lose track of all the data I have sitting on my desk.
3. Another rowing lesson with Trent.
4. Organize an evening tennis tournament (we've been playing at the courts by our house at 9m and it is awesome).
5. Call Haley (She's graduated, is moving, gotta catch up!), Jill (Is she in Turkey yet? I guess I'll find out!) , and April (Her wedding is very soon, I need to send her pics of the dress after all the alterations and discuss bridesmaid activities).

3. Snacks I enjoy:
Watermelon, cherry tomatoes, chips and guacamole, Chex-Mix, popcorn, carrots and celery, dark chocolate almond snickers, ice tea with lots of ice, miso soup.

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Set up a sweet science facility with the best equipment available, amazing housing for the scientists to live in that has tons of mountain biking trails, lakes, great restaurants, fantastic childcare, all provided for free. Invite scientists to do sabbaticals from all over the world, and make some awesome progress. Also, a big ranch to live at that raises organic heirloom tomatoes and fresh cheese, where my family can come visit for as long as they'd like and a restored hybrid Karmen Gia to drive to work everyday.

5. Places I would live:

To work: Seattle, Cambridge, San Francisco, Oslo- Norway, San Diego, Boulder, Vancouver
To play: La Paz - Baja California, Monteverde- Costa Rica, Oaxaca- Mexico, Cape Cod, Maine, San Luis Obispo.

6. Jobs I have had:
Shipping clerk at family business
Worst Big 5 Employee Ever
Theraputic riding instructor
UC Davis campus tour guide (awesome job)
Alfalfa pest resistance lab (driving tractors, collecting bugs)
Chloroplast ion channel biochemistry lab (grinding up pea plants, photosynthesis!)
Cystic fibrosis research assistant (collecting tracheas from autopsies, lots of cool experiments)
Graduate Student : Teaching Assistant, Student, Researcher, Trainer of new students, organizer of lots of events, grad student association president.

Perfect timing, my experiment is ready to be checked. Enjoy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Day to Margo!

This weekend my dear sister Margo is getting married to one of the nicest people I have ever met. I am so bummed I can't be with them to celebrate. But my heart will be with them and I will get to see them in September for Emily's wedding. And we had a lovely visit in San Diego in April. But I am still feeling pretty bummed. Sounds like it will be an amazing day, I know my Dad will take lots of pictures and I can't wait to see! Congrats Margo and Kenny! Best wishes for many many years of happiness together.

This picture is of when we both happened to be in Maui at the same time. Random! We had an awesome brunch at her hotel.

Ten things I learned this week

1. It is really hard to ride my bike to work in a wrap dress.

2. Having the alterations done on April's bridesmaid dress is trickier than I thought. But it will look awesome.

3. I am having some serious good luck with my molecular biology experiments. Sorry fruitflies, my heart will always be with tiny volumes of clear liquids being mixed together and doing beautiful things.

4. One of our new favorite things is taking Sadie to the park behind our house late at night and just lying in the grass and watching the stars. Or doing Olympic-esque routines on the monkey bars.

5. Taking a week off swimming because of my ear infection seemingly made me forget how to swim. This week was so hard!

6. I really enjoy teaching my rotation student how to do science.

7. Headphones and only talking to my PI, Deirdre, and rotation student, makes life in the lab WAY easier. Just avoid negative situations! Hooray!

8. Ingrid Michaelson wants to be my best friend.

9. Walking around at night makes the summer heat totally worth it. And man, these fireflies are amazing. This is my first full summer in the South, and it is pretty fantastic.

10. Going to Weaver St on a Thursday night when the band is playing and the night it warm, makes you want to have about 5 little organic babies.

No big plans for this weekend, the week flew by. Hopefully some long runs with Sadie and Trent in the forest (she is awesome off leash out there!), maybe painting the office, putzing around in my lovely little garden, and playing with friends. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yay Trent!

Last night Trent volunteered at the SHAC. It is a completely student run free clinic in Carrboro that provides medical care to those who can't afford it otherwise, and presents opportunities for medical, public health, social work, dental and a ton of pre-med undergrads to gain experience. There is a resident MD who oversees everything but other than that, it is totally student run. Trent was taking vitals and wrangling patients last night and loved it, but due to the immense number of pre-med undergrads, he only had one opportunity to volunteer.

Except he went and talked to the public health students and they need help. Since he has taken an epidemiology class and is planning on getting his Master's, they asked him to join them. He is training tonight and Wednesday night might be a regular thing! How great will that look on his application. Maybe I should do the SALSA program, to get some volunteering in and practice my Spanish.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I (heart) Science!

My PI just sent around a recent essay from the Journal of Cell Science. It is all about how being the sensation of being stupid that often is so disheartening in research is actually the best feeling you can have. Once you realize that you aren't stupid because you don't know the answers, there are just no answers out there, you can embrace your stupidity. Awesome. Here's an excerpt:

Concert Review and a Recipe!

Last night we saw Ingrid Michaelson at Cat's Cradle. She is so lovely, it was a wonderful show. She is one of those people who you are pretty darn sure would want to be your friend if you ever got to hang out. You know what I mean.

Before the show, Steph and Linda had some folks over for dinner. They grilled fish and potatoes, our crew coach friend and his girlfriend brought sundried tomato hummus and pita chips, and we brought a delicious summer salad, chocolate chip cookies vanilla ice cream sandwiches, and lots of cold white wine. It was fabulous. We sat out on the deck, with the newly mellow dog Lucy (thanks to Prozac!), and enjoyed the relatively cool evening. Then we walked to the show, rocked out a bit, and then all walked home afterwards. It was so mellow and pleasant.. I am one happy camper today!

Recipe for Summer Salad:
One head of red leaf lettuce
Two peaches, chopped into little pieces
Thinly sliced almonds
Fresh goat cheese.

Juice from one lemon
Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Two pieces of candied ginger.
Bit of water to dilute.
Let sit for an hour or so.

The lemon and goat cheese were tart and lovely, the ginger and peaches gave a bit of sweetness.. and it was quite fantastic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crew Madness

Trent is in charge of recruiting his novice men's crew team next year. He has been working on flyers, organizing events for incoming freshmen and just shared with me this totally dude-tastic crew video. Go Heels!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekend Review

We had a lovely, lovely, weekend. Mostly all I have to show for it are pictures of dogs and gardens, however. I kind of love what my life has become in the past couple months.

We were petting sitting for friends Su and Chris, so Kaya came over Friday afternoon. Sadie was in dog heaven, she has just learned that dogs are really fun to play with at the dog park, and then bam, she gets her own play buddy at home. She was gnawing on Kaya's ear pretty much the entire weekend. They were a cute pair.

We met up with some other friends and went to an outing at the dog park, tons of happy dogs on a much cooler than the rest of the week Friday afternoon. They played like crazy and were totally exhausted which was awesome. We dropped off our friends and I made amazing tuna melts (we have a toaster oven now, progress!) for Trent who was still recovering from his crazy yucky insect bite that got all infected and made him have a fever and stay home from work a couple days. No fun. He is much better now though.

Saturday was still pretty hot, but I went on a really fun run with Tri Prof and the UNC women's novice crew coach, who is a good friend of Trent. It was perfect running weather and I felt fast. We did some errands, lab, Lowe's, farmers market, the usual, before working on the house for a while. We had big plans to go to an outdoor movie, but as I was making grilling arugula, brie, and kalmata olive sandwiches on the bbq, it started to rain. So instead we walked over to the crew coach and his girlfriend's house and sat on the deck with some friends of theirs drinking wine, eating a fabulous watermelon, and discussing life until midnight. Walked home and crashed.

Sunday, was foggy and cool, and we were ready to make a garden. We had planned on renting a rototiller, but decided we could do it ourselves. We mapped out the area and Trent did a lot of the tough shoveling to clear the area. The dogs were thrilled to be out all day with us.

They were great little helpers. Not really. Mostly they just played and laid in the cool dirt we dug up. They loved the boxes Trent built. After he dug out the area, I sat and picked out as many honeysuckle and ivy roots as I could. Again, I had canine helpers.

Once they were relatively clear, we mixed in a bag of composted manure, half a bag of "conditioner" (tiny woodchips), and two bags of potting soil in with our Carolina clay. We mixed it all together and took a lunch break.

Later in the afternoon, we put up the temporary deer fencing to keep the meanies away from my baby plants and Trent and I put in the plants I had started in pots. We have lots of green beans, lots of lettuce, three tomato plants, two cucumbers, one melon, one squash, lots of beets, some spinach, dill, rosemary, parsley, chives, and nastursiums.

Yay for my garden!! The fence encloses my compost pile as well, which is doing pretty well. Nothing like my Mom's amazing one, but hopefully someday. Maybe I can sneak some worms back when I am out there for the wedding.

We got cleaned up and marinated some chicken and headed to Deirdre's house for an impromptu cook out. We ate lots of good food and hung out before hitting the swimming pool around 9pm. It was a warm night and we played "Marco Polo" and "Sharks and Minnows." It really felt like summer, it was wonderful.

And our pear tree is going fantastically! I need to start looking up pear recipes, everyone might get pear jam this year. This week should be good, fun concert and bbq with friends tomorrow, science is actually going pretty well, and Trent is healthy again. Sadie is sad that her friends is gone, but I think does enjoy being an only child. The weather is amazing today, I am a happy camper. Hope you all had a great weekend as well!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Swap!

A few summers ago, I was here.

And here, in Costa Rica.

Having a blast, learning a lot, getting in to trouble with these cute fellas.

And being a giant fern nerd. Ahh, beaches, bug bites, and lots of Gallo Pinto.

This summer is quite different, working away towards the elusive Ph.D, working on a house, walking the dog. But I am participating in my first blog swap, so I am excited about that. ISuwannee is hosting, the theme is summer, and I am jazzed. See this link to be put on the list by Sunday!

Kitchen Updates

Remember how I've been all.. "As soon as we get the floors in, bam, the kitchen will be done."? Although not "done," it is looking mighty impressive!!

This is the famous antique sink, on the new cabinet. You can get water from this sink, and slowly drain stuff in it, but since the garbage disposal and dishwasher aren't 100% attached, it is mostly for looks.

Whoohooo. Granite countertops. I hope I never have to move those enormously heavy slabs again. We probably will though. They look great and everything is fitting together. The cabinets will be white and Trent has plans to make new drawer and door fronts using his fabulous miter saw. I am just happy to have food in the kitchen.. not the office.

Styling, no? I love the stone floors, and things are just going to continue to get finished up, which is great. I can't wait to have the sink going and start cooking again for real! Last night we went back and looked at all the pictures from tearing the kitchen apart and were amazed how far we have come. Tons more work ahead, but progress is always good for the morale!

More Dog Pictures

Sadie got her first presents from her extended family. Emily and Rob sent this squeaky toy and a great book about hiking with dogs in North Carolina. She immediately fell in love with the toy.

We call it her "friend" since we aren't really sure what it is, but she loves to carry it around. Luckily, she doesn't squeak it in her mouth, just gently carries it around. We have to take it from her when we go on walks sometimes. Occasionally, especially when she wants us to wake up in the morning, she will set it on the ground and push it with her nose until it squeaks. Kind of like a trained seal. Adorable. She was wearing her bandanna for all her weekend outings to the dog park and Weaver St.

Here is my poor garden, all fenced in to keep it safe from the deer. Luckily, the tomatoes that they chomped on have made miraculous full recoveries and are dying to be planted in the beds we are working on. I have been starting a lot more seeds, things LOVE to grow in North Carolina! That can be a problem though as well, Trent got a nasty case of poison ivy on his arm from this weekend.
We spent the mornings before it got too hot digging and preparing the garden area. Sadie (who was still tied up at this time, now she we know she won't run off and can wander free), enjoyed hanging out in the cool soil after we dug a hole. We are renting a rototiler this weekend and then I can move all my plants in to my new garden. Which will have a fence.. mean deer.

Garden champion. Look at that adorable face. She has been great so far, very mellow when we go away for the day, and a great reason to get up in the morning and go on a walk or jog. She is a little nervous around new situations, but once she sees that they are fine, she learns to love them.

Race Recap: Over the Mountain

Better late than never, here is the race recap from my race a week ago. It was in Kings Mountain, NC, a place dear to my heart as my paternal grandparents are buried there. We spent a night there on our epic cross country journey from California, but I had yet to go back.

We left Chapel Hill around 4, caravaning behind Tri Prof and his family. We had an easy trip out there, about 2.5-3 hours. The whole town of Kings Mountain was behind this race, which was awesome. The community center hosted a surprisingly good spaghetti dinner, complete with a local jazz band. We drove to the race course and scouted the transition areas and watched a beautiful sunset. Tri Prof has two adorable girls, 4 and 7, who were the life of the party. We made our way back to a hotel, right across from the one we stayed at with my family, and laughed at how the town had been taken over by spandexed, gear-heads. The locals were very amused. Some prepping and we got to sleep, Trent and I on sleeping bags in the Tri Prof's hotel room.
Up early and to the race course. The water was about 75 degrees, so just barely wetsuit legal, but I am a fan of my wetsuit and hadn't worn it in ages, so was excited. The course was interesting, you started on one side of a lake, swam across it, got your bike, rode through several state and national parks, and even into South Carolina for a minute, and ended up in downtown Kings Mountain. From there you left your bike and ran around the town, mainly to the highschool and back. I hadn't raced a triathlon in a while and was raring to go and having a laid back time.
But apparently, when I wasn't paying attention to the camera, I was getting my race face on. Look at me sizing up the competition! The start was odd, we all waited on the beach until our wave was called, then we had five minutes to warm up and then it was a mid-water start. I was really hoping for a good swim, I have been training most consistently for that portion of the race.
Here is my wave, Women under 40 or something like that. It was a small race, only 500 participants total, so not too many women out there. I am the one messing with my watch on the left. It was actually one of my best starts in a race, I started in front which I usually avoid because I am not the strongest swimmer, but compared to this competition I felt strong and wanted to avoid being kicked in the head. It was a great decision and I had a really good swim. 1500m in about 3o minutes. Way less getting lost this time too!

Once you got out of the water you had to run up a very steep hill to get to the bike transition. Here I am trucking along. Tri Prof's wife is on the right, in the black shorts. Since the race was so small, you got to see family and friends the whole time, which was great. And Trent got to take tons of pictures, as you can see.

Off with the wetsuit, always tricky, and on to the bike. I learned long ago to just sit down and deal with it instead of trying to balance after swimming for half an hour. I was really nervous about the bike, as I had hardly ridden this year, but it was great to lower my expectations of having to push myself really hard. Off I go! Styling outfit, no? The bike was 27 miles, and gorgeous. Luckily it was still overcast and I had a lovely time. Except all the food (gu's and gels) I had stuck in my jersey pocket some how got lost within the first two minutes, leaving me starving by the end. Not being panicked about beating Tri Prof and realizing I hadn't trained much for the bike was a blessing in disguise. I didn't go out too hard, I maintained a nice pace, and actually could out climb a lot of people (and it was a hilly race!). I was pretty happy with the bike, in all. Beautiful scenery and really well supported.
The run I wasn't worried about. But it still was really hard. One of my best skills as a triathlete is the ability to eat while exercising, but losing the food on the bike made me start the run really hungry, which is a bad sign. I scarfed down a Gu right at the start, but it was too late to have a really good run. I was hurting. It was starting to get hot, my legs were exhausted from all the climbs on the bike. But luckily, my exhausted is still faster than other people's exhausted and I let my competitive nature drive me to pick off a few folks ahead of me. I had totally resigned myself to losing to Tri Prof, and had a nice meditation during the run on why that was a good thing and how the competition between us is so unhealthy.

So 6.2 miles and 50 minutes later I finished strong. I actually felt better at the end, and knowing I was almost done was great motivation. I really wanted to catch this guy, for some reason. And done!! I actually finished in 3:11, since my swim wave started 25 minutes after the clock started. I was SO happy to be done, feeling proud of myself and loving the feeling of personal achievement that comes with finishing any triathlon. Then Trent whispers something in my ear... I beat the Tri Prof!! Just by a few minutes, but still. I tried to play it off, and really it is no big deal, but deep deep down.. I was pretty stoked.

We grabbed lots of food, again the entire town of Kings Mountain was out supporting the race which was just amazing. I love races like this, small and challenging. We had to leave pretty soon after, to meet up with friends back in Chapel Hill, but we made a quick stop by my grandparents beautiful stones to say hello. I often think that my athletic grandfather would be very proud of me, and possibly think I was less crazy than other members of my family.

Summer Music

We've mapped out a few must see concerts this summer, gotta take advantage of the warm evenings. On the list now are Ingrid Michaelson at Cat's Cradle and The Avett Brothers at Koka Booth. I am stoked.

In addition, there was even more grumpy folks at work today, but this was remedied thanks to discovering the "Dan in Real Life" soundtrack. I haven't even seen this movie, but the soundtrack was perfect to cheer me up and drowned out the grumble-tons surrounding me!


But what is with the smoke today? Scary. Glad I got my trail run in this morning. Sadie was a champ, but must be exhausted, we went for an hour! Yes, probably not the best idea with the whole ear infection thing, but I was thrilled to finally be able to go running again, the heat wave is seemingly over!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weather: Done with it and under it

You've probably been hearing about the massive heat wave the entire East coast has been experiencing. I am SO glad my parents were here the week before it hit, it has been downright miserable. You expect heat in the summer, in the South, but to have the 100+ temps drop out of no where and stay for 4 days straight is pretty miserable. It finally broke today, but we broke right along with it, Trent had to go to the doc for an infected bug bite, and I was in for swimmer's ear from the triathlon and subsequent swimming to try to cool off. Bummer dude.

Making us happy? Getting to know our awesome dog Sadie (lots of pics will be posted tonight), she has been fantastic so far, starting to feel at home and becoming a goofy girl. The kitchen sink is in the spot that it will live and 99.5% installed, which I am giddy about. We are expecting a big thunderstorm tonight, so I already have plans to make mint tonics and sit on the porch and watch the lightning and lightning bugs like a true Southerner. Although, minus the liquor due to all the antibiotics we are on!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Introducing Sadie!

So the dog gods were against us for a while, and Miss Bijou will remain with her foster parents. It is the best situation for everyone and we are glad she has a loving home. So we've been searching around, checking out shelters and Craigslist. And we've found her. Meet Sadie!

She is about a year old, in great health, and such a sweetheart. We went to the Wake County animal shelter on Sunday and met a bunch of dogs, but she impressed us with her gentle disposition, great manners and fun personality. She is a total mutt, we have NO idea where to even start, but I think she is adorable. Check out the blue tongue!

After much deliberation at the shelter, we decided to go for it. Then all the sudden we were dog owners! She was great in the lobby with lots of kids and cats in crates, didn't pay them any attention. She was a bit nervous about getting in the car, we had to lift her in eventually, but she was a great passenger.

Isn't she pretty!? Such a sweet girl. Her previous owner became ill with cancer and couldn't keep her, but did a great job teaching her to sit, shake, wait, etc. Definitely a few puppy classes in our future, but a great start. She is fabulously housetrained as well.. she has been a champ so far. And Trent gave her a great bath on the lawn and she sat patiently through the whole thing. Loves to play, even managed a bit of fetching this morning. I am so in love.

We took her straight to Target and Petco to buy her a fancy leather collar, leash, shampoo and a brush and lots of toys and treats. We are totally new parents. But she is great about being brushed, really mellow about food, and plays well with her toys instead of begging or being too rowdy. We have a lot to learn about her, but so far we have been terribly impressed. She slept all night on a blanket by our bed and we went on a great run this morning. She is sequestered into one room today, in case she is a bit more nuts than we thought, but I bet she's doing great. Our schedules are flexible enough that she won't be in there for too long. And we loaded up her kong with peanut butter, so I bet that kept her busy.

So get ready for lots of doggie pics and stories, we definitely feel like new parents and are excited about our growing family. I am taking her to the dog park today to see how she does, so far she has been great with other dogs. And she will go to the vet tomorrow to make sure she is a healthy gal. Maybe they can tell us what breed she might be! 100% mutt, is my guess.

Lots of other news, my parents came to visit and we had a wonderful time. They were troopers about the unfinished kitchen and a big help in the yard. We ate out every night and Chapel Hill was at its finest. I also ran a triathlon on Saturday, lots and lots of pictures to come (thanks Trent!). It was beautiful but tough, but I managed to beat Tri Professor, much to his dismay. Go me!

June is starting with a bang! Can't wait to see what else is in store for us.