IAA '03

Last week my bff Kira pointed out that our high school graduation was exactly ten years ago - May 24, 2003. I spent the last two years of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, which is essentially a boarding school on the campus of a summer camp in the woods of Northern Michigan. It's easily the best thing I've ever gotten to do. Besides just meeting Kira there, I met John the summer after graduation when I stayed on the work at the camp (which means our ten-year anniversary is this summer!). 

I think my 2003 self would be pretty surprised at what I'm doing now. I was new to composition that year and I had tons of enthusiasm. I know younger Abby would be pleased that I followed through and got the comp degree, and probably not too shocked that theory is the direction I chose. But my interest in Rameau as a dissertation topic really came out of nowhere - I was as surprised as anyone. And I live in Canada now! Who would have predicted that?

Above: Kira and I, trying to look hot for the Babylon Dance. Look how hot we are!!!

Below: our (shared) senior recital. My pale skin looks like it might break the camera.

Above: Interlochen prepared me to survive the Canadian winter. London is much further south than Interlochen, and London gets less snow, if you can believe that. But we never drove anywhere while at school, so it didn't impact my daily life in the same way. This picture was taken after a snowy hike. That's our hall counselor, Bobby, wrapping Kira in masking tape. I have no idea why this happened.

Below: Street Beat, a kind of block party style festival on the night before graduation. Each year a group of students would put on a concert, and that year they played Kid A, by Radiohead, with harps and everything. After that concert, Kira and some friends and I packed up and went to a slumber party at the math teachers' house (two of the math teachers were married and had students over to hang out at the their house. I think we watched Galaxy Quest). Notice that on May 24, 2003 we were wearing sweat shirts and turtlenecks. The three guys in the first picture were my classmates in the composition department, and I miss all three of them all the time. 

Below: My classmate, Erik, and Dr. Boyle, ("DB"), our mentor and composition/theory teacher. I don't think I quite realize how much of an impact DB has had on my life. I would never have gotten into IU for composition if it weren't for him. He seemed a little bummed that I went into theory instead of composition, but he's still supportive. I get all my good theory-teaching jokes from him. We're still in regular contact, thanks to facebook.

I want to make sure I have this picture on display somewhere during the wedding weekend, since she is officiating our service. Kira and I have changed so much! And yet I think we have more in common now than when we were in high school. 

Our ten-year reunion is in October and I hope I get to be there! Facebook does kind of ruin the surprise of the reunion - I know who got married or pregnant right away, as well as who among us became at least a little bit famous (like Jay Rathbone, one of the minor characters in Twilight) but I would love to get to spend time at Interlochen with the people in my class and some of my favorite teachers. In the time since I graduated, I've visited a few times, and it's really not the same place without the people. 


Victoria Day

Fun fact: Canada doesn't do Memorial Day like we do in the U. S. Instead, they celebrate Queen Victoria's Birthday with Victoria Day, aka, "The May Two-Four," as in, May 24. It's a long weekend that signifies the start of summer, not unlike Memorial Day. John and I observed the queen's b-day with a trip to Ipperwash Beach. We waited until late in the day, since John fries like an egg in direct sunlight.  And I've wanted to watch the sunset over Lake Huron since we moved here. It didn't disappoint!

Ipperwash Beach was perfect. By 6 or so when we arrived it was practically deserted. The water was WAY too cold to swim, but I did wade into the shallow part to take some photos. The water is always so clear in Lake Huron and the shallow part extends quite a ways out, so you can wade about 30-40 feet out with water below your knees.

We packed a picnic and read books on the beach while waiting for the sunset to begin.

Once it started, I took about 500 pictures and I was too in awe to read my book. 

The water was very still as evening set in. I love the texture of the water in all these photos.

The water looks like leather. Or oil. The weather was perfect for a beautiful sunset.

Ipperwash is dog-friendly and the parking is free. We'll definitely be back again soon.



Once we got back to Ontario last week, it was clear that Spring had finally arrived. Even though it snowed last week, it's finally stayed warm enough for me to plant my herbs and tomatoes.

 John brought me some lilac from a neighbor's tree while walking home yesterday, and I found lily of the valley growing along our driveway. They make the kitchen smell so nice! My mom always picked lily of the valley from our backyard when I was growing up and she would put them in a water glass in the kitchen. That flower always makes me feel nostalgic.

This year I tried to let my rosemary and thyme come back on their own, with only partial success. I trimmed the rosemary too much and I think I ended up killing it, so I ripped it out and put in a new plant (shown here on the left). The thyme, however, survived. It just started turning green one day, so I didn't have to replace it (center). This year we decided on sweet (regular) basil, rather than lemon basil, since we want to have it in the greatest quantity (far right). 

I also sprouted some basil from a package of it I bought at the grocery store to cook with. I let it sprout in a water glass for close to a month before planting it so that it would grow a lot of roots. I have a glass with mint growing in the kitchen now that I will plant beside it once it has enough roots. In the mean time, I've gotten to use both plants when I need a bit of either herb. 

And on the inside of our house, we've been busy making Mexican food.

For Christmas, my mom got me Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. We've been kind of intimated by the recipes and put off trying it, but last weekend we went for it and I'm so glad. I should mention that a lot of the recipes in the book are vegetarian. But a lot of them are fairly involved, so we've been saving them for the summer when our schedules are more flexible for cooking dinner.

First of all, the Topolo margarita was the best margarita I've ever made and one of the smoothest, best I've ever had. You start by making a limeade and letting that sit in the fridge for a few hours. After that, it's just the usual ingredients. Now I'm excited to try the other margarita recipes in the book. 

We made a simple enchilada recipe from the book that was more like pancakes than enchiladas. It involves making a smokey, rich tomato sauce and then dipping tortillas with it. Then you top them with onions, cheese (feta, here, but it called for a Mexican queso), cilantro, and more of the sauce. Simple, right? But so flavorful. We had lots of sauce leftover, too. 

So we put the sauce on more tacos: roasted chickpea and broccoli tacos, with avocado, cilantro, and more of the sauce above. This recipe is from Thug Kitchen, a hilarious (and very profane!) vegan blog that I recommend for the laughs alone.

All this warm weather makes me want to go to Lake Huron, so I hope we get to do that soon. I hope the weather is nice where you are!


Road Tripping in May

John and I had some more wedding business to attend to. We headed down to Bloomington in the time between finals and my area exam (which I passed! Woo! Subject for a separate post). In order to break up the drive, we decided to spend the night in Marshall, MI* and eat an enormous meal at Dark Horse Brewery. We've stopped there before and I wanted to come back when I knew we didn't have to get back on the road after eating. So we spent something like 3 hours at Dark Horse, trying various beers and pizzas.

For my first beer, I ordered the Amber, expecting it to be kind of run of the mill, like a lot of ambers. But it was so nice! Very smooth, and slightly sweet, almost like a Belgian. I ended up giving it to John because he ordered an IPA with a strong grapefruit taste that he didn't really care for. That IPA was perfect for me since it was less bitter than the average IPA. Either would be great for summer. 
Next, I ordered the Black Ale, which I've had before. It's very chocolatey and kind of thick for a black ale, and I wished I had waited for dessert to order it. John had something called the Arctic (IPA), which he described as hoppy, bitter, and full-bodied. We also kind of shared the Sapient Trip Ale, a triple (trip-ale, get it?), and John was smitten with it. I wrote down his reaction: "Do I like this beer? I LOVE this beer!" He also said it was better than Fin du Monde. It's fun to see what Dark Horse has on tap, since it's often beer that they don't distribute. 

All of Dark Horse's beers are fairly boozy, so we wanted to stick around and have some dessert before going the mile or so back to the Comfort Inn (...woo). We ordered an elephant ear for dessert. While it wasn't exactly the funnel-cake style elephant ear of my childhood, it was delicious. They basically make a sweet version of their pizza dough and spread cinnamon-sugar icing all over it. Yes, we ate the whole thing. 

Our plan for the next day was to work off all those beer and dough calories with what we thought would be a relaxing run at Pokagon State Park. The park is about 40 miles south of Marshall, MI, and about 40 miles north of Fort Wayne, and it's famous for its toboggan run during the winter months. I told John that the trails looked fairly wide and even on the website, and that it was northeast Indiana! How hilly could it be?! 

Famous last words. You can see where this is going.

It was one of the hilliest runs I've ever done. I got tons of practice swinging my arms for momentum on the uphills, and we were both pooped by the end. Most of the trails are described as moderate and the longest one is only 2-2.5 miles. We figured we would do 2-3 of the 2 mile routes and make sure we got enough mileage in. Turns out, it took us about 51 minutes to run just over 4.5 miles. There were a few flat spots, like this one that reminded me of a cabbage patch.

In general, the park is lovely. I hear the trails nearer the lake are less hilly, and all the trails we took were well maintained and pretty wide. We were able to enter without paying a vehicle fee for some mysterious reason, and the Potawatomi Inn has plenty of bathrooms and water in the gift shop. It's also really conveniently located off I-69, so we will probably try something like this on a future trip down to Bloomington.

Somehow, even on this very overcast day, John's white chest is just blinding.

We were in Bloomington over graduation weekend at IU, and my cousin Jeff graduated from the business school. The festivities started off with sushi, where Jeff, his mom, Aunt Becky, and John all did sake bombs.

John and I helped put the graduation party together while my mom went with Becky and my cousin Halley and her husband to the graduation ceremony. Mom ordered this cake from BluBoy** but wasn't sure what sentiment to add. So she went with this very apt message:

The weather cooperated and we were able to host Jeff and his roommates out on my parents' deck.

Aside from meeting with a florist, meeting with our venue coordinator, and a dress fitting, we did a few non-wedding related things. For instance, Mom worked on her ability to read Molly's mind.

The run at Pokagon was the first in a week of very hilly runs, including some speed work in the rain at Olcott Park.

I also had my trial appointment for my wedding make up. Afterward, I tried with moderate success to persuade Toby to sit for a photo.

We have about 6 weeks to go until the wedding, and even less before we leave for Bloomington to do all the final tweaks to our plans. In the mean time, I have food from the Rick Bayless cookbook to show you, and I'd like to do a little post summarizing my dissertation progress thus far, including the area exam.

I hope the weather where you are is appropriate for May - it sleeted in Southwestern Ontario today! Happy Spring!

*If you're curious, we stayed at the Comfort Inn. It was cheap and well located, but nothing to write home about. I will say that when hot air started coming out of the air conditioner, the staff immediately moved us to a better room with no trouble at all. If you happen to be looking for a room in Marshall, MI, I would recommend staying there. Just know, it's cheaper than the Hampton for a reason - but it's nice enough for one night.
**Not shown: for me and Halley, vegan peanut butter-chocolate rice crispy treat, and vegan cupcakes (salted caramel and sugar n' spice) from The Owlery, one of my new Bloomington favorites.