Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Surviving Hurricane Irene

We escaped relatively unscathed from Hurricane (Tropical Storm?) Irene.  By the time it hit on Sunday, our fears about possible flooding and really strong winds were put to rest. However, we were nervous about falling trees and flying tree limbs, especially since we live next to a park with lots of tall trees that extend over our house.

Once the worst of the storm passed through and the rain subsided, I stepped out cautiously to survey the damage.  Deck looked fine and Figgy, our fig "tree" was in one piece. Andrew decided against moving him since he is so heavy.

Leaning over the railing of the deck, our backyard looked fine.   You can see that we kept my car and my dad's car as far as possible from the park side of the backyard.

A closer look at our side yard revealed lots of branches and leaves but nothing big.

Needless to say, this was a huge relief and a minor miracle!

The front yard was fine as well and surprisingly, there were still orange flowers left on the trumpet vine you can see to the right hand side of the fence.

What we did experience problems was with the power. It flickered four times, each time getting stronger before the power stayed completely off at around noon on Sunday.  Looking down the our street, we could a police car blocking cars from going through so we guessed that it was protecting live wires brought down by the storm.
This was confirmed later when we detoured around the area and could see multiple trees down as well as utility trucks hard at work. A mere 14 hours later and the power was back on at around 2:30 a.m. in the morning, which had me running around like a mad woman to turn off all the lights and TVs in the house before they woke everyone else up.

The police car was down the street to our left and to our right, diagonally acrosse from our house, we could see a fallen tree blocking the entryway to a side road. Luckily for these neighbors, the street loops around and connects with the main street at another point, so we knew residents wouldn't be trapped.

I am very thankful that we didn't face anything major and my sympathies are with all the people that are still without power. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011


My parents, upon looking at a picture taken of them when they were first married...

My mom - "Now I remember why I married you, you were so handsome back then."

My dad - "You were pretty hot yourself."

Not sure if I find that more sweet or disturbing.

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birthday Dinner At Burtons - Year 2

Today is Jen's birthday (she's a fellow Virgo) but we actually celebrated the big occasion on Saturday at Burtons Grill in Boston (you may recall that we did the same last year).  With the same cast of characters (Birthday girl Jen, her brother Bryan, Amy (our college roommate), Andrew and myself), we also had some new additions in the form of Bryan's girlfriend Leigh, Jen's friend Nate, one of our college friends Rosie and Aline.

It was clear that the birthday girl was having a good time, whether it was due to good company like Amy to her left, Nate to her right or me facing her (ha!), or I suspect, Burtons strong and delicious drinks like the spiked lemonade martini she was enjoying. I had a delicious mixed berry mojito, but alas, sucked it down too quickly without getting a picture.

I hadn't seen Bryan in ages, and the kid always manage to switch up his look (hair length and facial hair) each time I see him. He and Leigh made a cute couple and were both very knowledgeable about espresso, having met at work at Peet's Coffee & Tea.

Aline wasn't quite in the picture taking mood so I ended up getting an "I'm not in the mood for paparazzi" shot instead.

Two and a half hours flew by and I highly recommend Burtons for a good time with friends (and delicious drinks) as long as the Red Sox are out of town, since it's within spitting distance of Fenway.  And best of all, located next to a BerryLine location!

Boxer Overload

I'll preface this by saying this is not a dog blog, but I couldn't resist a post devoted to some dogs we saw on Sunday.

Andrew's family grew up with two boxers so he's got built in boxer radar whenever we're in public.  At the Timberman Ironman, we immediately spotted a pair of boxers and got a kick out of watching them play on the beach.

Then we hit the jackpot once we ended up at a table underneath a tent to escape the heat.  The French (?) family seated next to us had the sweetest female boxer.

She was prowling next to me underneath the table and remained calm, even when six different sets of kids' arms were coming at her. She stood docilely as a toddler approached her and awkwardly petted her on the side.

She remained calm even when the other set of boxers entered the tent and started barking at her. She coolly eyed them and remained at her family's side. Later, she got laughs out of us as she kept sprawling out on the ground in the most awkward positions - if you look closely, you can see her chilling with one leg resting on the leash.
Just a few moments of entertainment during a very long day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Timberman Ironman 2011 AKA Amanda The Rockstar!

Andrew and I woke up in the wee hours on Sunday - I'm talking 4 a.m. (yikes) to drive up to Gilford, NH to watch Amanda compete in the Timberman Ironman, which is half-Ironman triathlon.  We're talking a 1.2 mile swim in Lake Winnipesaukee, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run - 70.3 miles in one day.  That's incredible when you think that most people get tired after driving 70.3 miles!

We were trying to time our arrival to catch Amanda before her wave hit the water.  We parked at the Gunstock Resort without a problem, hopped on a shuttle right away, and walked around the site to figure out where the swim start was located...turns out, it was on the other side of the beach, separated by a fairly deep inlet (see people wading through in the picture?)

There apparently was a pedestrian bridge set back from the site but it would've taken us another 20 minutes to find it. So we missed Amanda entering the water but could see her wave (age group) in the water, identifiable by their white caps.

After a failed attempt to cross the bike path (inept crossing guard wouldn't let anyone cross) to get back to the swim finish, we positioned ourselves around the bend from the swim finish so we'd be able to catch Amanda coming out of the water.

This turned out to be a highly entertaining place to stand, we were right in the area where the triathletes transitioned from swimming in their wetsuits to getting on their bikes.  The organizers had a team of people (including some young kids) to help the athletes get out of their wetsuits as quickly as possible.

The triathletes would start getting out of the wetsuit by unzipping the suit to their waist, which left just the bottom half still on.  They would approach this area, drop to their backs, and then the team members would spring into action, each grabbing a side of the wetsuit and pulling it off (most times) in one smooth motion.

I can't tell you how vigorously the kids were tackling these wetsuits - the word that comes to mind is gusto - they would yank with gusto, get splashed with water and were cheerfully anticipating the next person to drop down in front of them.

Finally, our first glimpse of Amanda (my only clear shots showed Amanda in awkward poses/expressions, so I settled for a blurry shot) - for most triathletes, swimming can be the toughest part (which is why triathlons are organized with swims first, so participants aren't too tired, thus decreasing the likelihood of drowning).  Not for Amanda, she kills this category and was ranking around 50th in the her age group when she came through.

I didn't take pictures at all the transition points, since it was an option to either take pictures or hold a sign and cheer, so I alternated between the two.  I did catch Amanda coming in at the end of her 56 mile (incredible!) bike ride and she was still looking cheerful and fresh as a daisy. 

Sidenote: Apparently a piece of advice that triathletes share on the bike rides is that if you've got to pee while you're on the bike, remember to move your water bottle first. Words to live by!

At this point, all that was standing between Amanda and the finish line was a 13.1 mile run - I certainly wouldn't have been smiling at that point but Amanda was pumped and ready to go!

What did Tom, Charlotte, Andrew and I do to entertain ourselves for the hours between Amanda's transition? We did enjoy homemade ice cream complete with jimmies for lunch to help beat the heat!

Due to Timberman's excellent online tracking system, we were able to see when Amanda hit certain checkpoints, which gave us a good sense of when we needed to be positioned by the sidelines to catch her running by.  We got a little worried during the last six miles of her run, because the triathlon organizers had announced that severe thunderstorms were an hour away and they would start pulling runners from the course for their own safety. Imagine being within miles of the finish line and being told that you can't actually do it.  Luckily for Amanda, she made it in the nick of the time - she's the second woman you can see in a red shirt/black shorts that is slightly to the left of the woman in front.

It was incredibly exciting to see her cross the finish line and the surrounding crowd was amped and cheering loudly for everyone that made it through.

As the sign proclaims, Andrew and I are truly in awe of Amanda's athletic prowess, endurance and competitive spirit - she is truly a rockstar in our eyes! Andrew played the role of proud brother all day, convincing people on the sideline to help him hold the sign so it was positioned in a way that Amanda could see it clearly!

Even though she was sweaty, we were both glad to give her congratulatory hugs after the finish.

Thankfully, Tom, Charlotte and Amanda were able to give us a lift back to our car before the heavens opened up - we're talking sheets of water that dropped visibility down to almost nothing.

We made it home by 7 p.m. after experiencing a little end-of-the-weekend summer traffic in NH and taking a shower never felt so good!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chutes and Ladders

Andrew has been busy this summer doing odd jobs around the house.

This past weekend, he decided to tackle gutter cleaning for the first time. I couldn't resist the title for this post, it seemed to obvious with the whole gutter and ladder theme.

Really, it was an excuse for him to try out toys like the extension ladder and the ladder stabilizer. Despite the fact that I told him it was worth paying a professional to do this type of work, he gamely climbed to the top of the ladder and had my dad holding the bottome of the ladder (which was originally supposed to be my job). Now that's what I call trust, having your father-in-law hold your life in his hands - literally!

I was shaking my head as I took in this scene from every angle. Andrew had tied a rope to the end of a hose, and was slowly pulling the rope up so that the hose would rise to his level (rather than having to climb the ladder rungs worrying about a hose getting entangled around his feet):

Then came the most nerve-wracking part for me but I suspect it was the best part for Andrew - he used the hose to blast leaves and sediment from the gutters in front of the house:

Carefully maneuvering, he was able to get both sides:

As a result of cleaning the front gutters, Andrew was able to test some theories on why some of our gutters weren't draining properly - namely, it wasn't due to a build-up of leaves but some problems in configuration/damage caused by the previous' owners installation of our sprinkler system.  This process took hours and only involved the front of the house, which means the back side will have to be tackled next.

Bringing the extension ladder down was a full family affair - my mom couldn't resist helping which meant I was the odd man out, "supervising' and taking picures:

Turns out, extension ladders aren't as heavy as you would expect but are awkward to handle.

Ah, the joys of being a homeowner.  What was I doing while this was going on? I was indoors working on an arts and crafts project, to be revealed in a future post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Internet Is Amazing (Or Scary!)

Back in the early years of my parents' marriage when I was a baby, it was still uncommon to see a mixed marriage in the Boston area. So much so that my parents remember strangers stopping them on the street so they could peer into the carriage and see what I looked like.  There were no international aisles in supermarkets back in those days, so my dad would have to take my mom to Chinatown to shop for familiar Asian ingredients. 

Considering this, it wasn't so weird that when my parents were out shopping one day, a woman came up to my parents and asked if my mom was Korean.  Turned out, her nephew had also been stationed in Korea while in the military and had married a Korean woman, and both were now living in Massachusetts. The woman gave my parents her nephew's phone number (people were more trusting in the 70s!)and this was the start of a great friendship for my mom, someone from that she could talk to in her native language.

As it turned out, my parents were only in the area for few more years before they moved back to Korea and started hop skipping around the Pacific.  The last time my parents lived in MA, Amy was a wee baby, and need I point out that Amy just turned 29? As these were the days before the Internet and Facebook, my mom eventually lost touch with her friend but never forgot her.

Now that my parents are back in Massachusetts, my mom has been thinking more about her friend and her whereabouts. Thinking about it yesterday, I did a simple Google search using the woman's name (thankfully, her name was unique enough).  Through sites like Spokeo (you may want to type your own name into that and see what pops up, it's scary how much is out there but you can choose to block the information), I was able to confirm that the woman I was looking for was living in Plymouth.  No phone number popped up but I did have an address.

We had Andrew's parents check a Plymouth phone book for a listing, but hit a dead end there.  Using the woman's daughter's name in a search, I found the daughter's LinkedIn profile (social networking site for job searching/business, it's basically a person's resume posted online) and realized she had gone to Plymouth North, the same high school Andrew, Amanda and Adam had attended. In fact, she seemed close in age to Amanda and would've attended the same year or the year before.  Now enlisting Amanda's investigative skills, she was able to find the girl's profile in Facebook since they have mutual friends from Plymouth (the girl's name was too common for me to find through searching on Facebook by myself). 

That is where we stand today. My mom wants to wait until she's settled into her own house before trying to establish contact. I figure I will send a Facebook message to the daughter, explain my mother's attempts to find her mom, and provide a phone number should her mom want to talk to my mom.

Technology can be truly amazing and I hope this is the start to re-establishing a past friendship. But a little part of me is amazed at what kind of information you can find on the Internet these days with just a name and general knowledge of location!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pats Pre-Season Game At Gilette Stadium

Last Thursday, Amy, Phu, Andrew and I scored free tickets to the Patriots pre-season game against the Jaguars. Amy and I both had to work on the later side.  However, this ended up working in our favor because we missed most of the pre-game traffic.  We scored a (paid) parking spot near the stadium and I was very impressed by the marked pedestrian paths the guide spectators to Gillette. The purple line led us from our parking lot directly to the stadium (around a ten minute walk).

We made it to our seats in the middle of the first quarter, not too shabby. The Pats were down 0-6 but it would be the last time they were down all night!

I'm not the world's biggest football fan but I was still thrilled with our seats in the end zone - the picture doesn't give you good perspective but I felt we were pretty close to the action on the field.

What the heck is this picture of? I was amused by Pat the Patriots ginormous mascot head, and the fact that his fake tricorn hat had just popped up next to a group of people dressed as patriots, wearing tricorn hats of their own.

Speaking of this group of patriots (there were actually two groups, one at each end zone), they provided the most entertainment for me.  You see, each time the Patriots (uppercase "P" denoting the football team) scored a touchdown or field goal, the muskets would go up:

A loud boom would commence - which would startle me every time, even when I knew it was coming:

The aftermath? Tons of smoke. Plus, this picture makes me laugh because of the fan's arm/hand gestures.

We enjoyed the perfect summer weather and a full moon

And good company. Although Phu would shush all of us when the cheerleaders hit the field.
It was a lot of fun and the Pats were up by a gazillion points by the end of the third quarter, so we left with most of the stadium. Full confession though, I think only free tickets would induce me to go out on a work night again, I was really tired on Friday morning. Lame, I know!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Breakfast This Morning

Courtesy of my Korean mama:

Round slices of rice cakes, Korean yaki mandu (more commonly known as gyoza in Japan or stuffed dumplings) in a egg drop broth with scallions.

While I stuck with the soup, Andrew had a bowl AND eggs and bacon for breakfast, cooked by my mom. He is getting very spoiled and I'm afraid it's going to be tough for both of us to lose our "live-in" cook when my parents move into their new place.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Are Thee A Mayflower Descendant?

During the Fourth of July weekend, Andrew and I were trying to be good hosts for Camie and James.  We had some time to kill between eating lunch and heading to Manomet Beach, and at the request of C&J, we stopped first at the Plymouth House of Correction aka where Whitey Bulger is being held. Yes ladies and gentleman, we took our guests to a prison.  But in my defense, they wanted to see it!

After that, Andrew took us to a place tucked away in a residential neighborhood on a hill in Plymouth.

Have you heard of the Forefathers' Monument? Neither had I.

Suddenly, the road curves and standing there in front of you is a massive monument dedicated to the Pilgrims (also called "Faith" for the figure on top).

To give you a sense of scale, here's a charming shot of Camie doing her best sumo impersonation in front of the monument:

Want more Camie? Here's a close up of her doing her thing:

There are four figures seated around the base of the monument representing the principles that guided the Pilgrims - Freedom, Morality, Law and Education. The male statues representing the principles had amazingly life-like carved eyes but for some reason, the female statues didn't.

There are also carved panels that list out the names of everyone that came over on the Mayflower (although shame on the Pilgrim Society or perhaps the record-keepers of the time, because all the males were listed with their full names while many wives remain unnamed). While walking around the monument, I realized the boys were silent and hidden around the corner so I assumed they were reading the sides of the monument. Until I found Andrew and Phu and caught them doing this instead of enjoying the view.
I consider this monument to be a hidden treasure of Plymouth and well-worth the quick drive up - it is far more impressive to view than the Plymouth Rock.