I do not know why the city curved for my camera, but I love that it made the effort.
Taken with the camera on my HTC Evo smartphone. (Pretty good, huh? Don’t hate me.)
I do not know why the city curved for my camera, but I love that it made the effort.
Taken with the camera on my HTC Evo smartphone. (Pretty good, huh? Don’t hate me.)
Starting on Tuesday last week I began the new job, still aching from moving uncounted bins to the dumpster and a vanload of heavy cartons of potentially useful but ultimately elusive stuff from the previous job to the new office in downtown Minneapolis. I don’t know how many times this week I have said, “Where in the world is…?” or how many circles I have walked checking those cartons looking for a device, a file, a cable or a tape dispenser. After four days of trying to get one computer talk to another, or talk to one of two printers for more than thirty minutes, my hottest fantasy was a day without someone saying, “Why isn’t this working?” Everything I accomplished unraveled by the following day. Oh, I got a picture hung, I was instrumental in getting two light bulbs changed, and my boss’ office no longer looked like a storage room by the end of the week. But there was still the electronic communications issue which slowed everything down, and while I love a creative challenge, this is not my area of expertise. Following a *headdesk* moment I groaned, “It would sure be nice if we had an IT person,” and Patrick, the new guy, laughed and said, “We do; it’s you.”
It all moved at a frenetic pace: everyone working their own variety of magic with a lot of keystrokes, edits, meetings, searches, and phone calls. Finally on Friday, at four p.m., when a lot of people in the city might expect to be heading home or going out, we gathered for a meeting about some time sheet and invoicing software, which thankfully evolved into a conversation about the strangest jobs we’d worked (you know I said the rat lab, right?) our favorite movies, dream vacation destinations and the kinds of topics that turn colleagues into friends. The white wine my boss brought to celebrate the end of week one smoothed the day’s jagged edges and even though I came away with more to-do items on my list, I was happier than I’d been going in.
As I finally left for the day, clouds cast the sky in indigo and the streets were quieter than I’d seen them all week. The cars that had packed the parking ramp when I’d entered that morning had dwindled to a scattered few. I had to exit via the open top level, where I was greeted with a view into Target Field, where the Twins were playing beneath lights as bright as the sun. The Target dog, sketched enormously in red and white neon, grinned from the wall of the Target Center, and the looming buildings either glowed in light or glowered in shadow. It was beautiful. I wanted so badly to take a picture, but there was an issue with having to climb on things to get a good angle and on the top of a seven-story building, that just wasn’t something I wanted to do.
I wish I could tell you that the IT issues have now been worked out. They have been worked, strenuously, but they remain in ever new configurations. I HAVE been able to make a few creative contributions and been assigned some writing which is awesome. I have figured out the bus schedule…mostly. I love my walks between the bus stop and work, and to get lunches or supplies. It isn’t perfect. There are random gusts of what smells like raw sewage here and there. There are blocks that feel marginally less safe than others, but I am figuring this out quickly. The commute isn’t stressful, but it does make my day long. The thing is, I like it here. I am glad I have been given this opportunity.
So this is here and now. Thank you for visiting, for your patience in waiting while I pulled myself together to share this, and for your indulgence as I rattle on.
I have been MIA for awhile. Recently all my blogging has been blocked by some big news on which I was sworn to secrecy. Do you remember back in February when I took a big leap and got a small job with McFarland Cahill Communications in a field I knew nothing about: PR, particularly media relations? I got to run the Kitchen Stage at the Minneapolis Home & Garden show where I met many local celebrities and chefs. I got to send pitches to Ellen DeGeneres, Playboy, Oprah and the Today Show by express mail, often at full speed at the very last minute. I helped create press kits designed to entice media outlets to take an interest in our clients. I visited our metro television stations and newspaper and magazine headquarters. I got to go to events like concerts and parties where I mingled with (or stood near) colorful and interesting people. This job was 90% magic (I also took out garbage, helped with invoicing, picked up groceries and supplies and did quite a bit of filing.) My employers welcomed me with warmth, humor and some borderline painful growth stretching opportunities. During my time there I have been surrounded by educated women with a lot of knowledge that has nothing to do with anything I know, and it has been bewildering and exhilarating.
A a short while ago my bosses called me in and told me that McFarland and Cahill were going their separate ways. They wanted me to start gathering the information we needed to work toward that end: inventory, lease agreements, subscriptions, etc. Until they had their own ducks in a row, the news had to be a secret, even from the other staff. Which sucked. Because misery loves company and I was ALONE, both figuratively and literally, as some or all of the others were out of the office on vacation or working offsite at that time. I was stunned, because I had counted on staying and growing so much more. When I took the job, I had thought it would be something to get me out of the house, brush a few cobwebs off my brain and maybe give me some writing opportunities and ideas, but I got so much more. I was deeply bummed that not only was it ending, it was ending so soon. With everyone out of the office and me doing paperwork and listing assets, I felt morose, like I was preparing grandma’s estate for the sale.
Cahill took a position as Executive Director for Smile Network International, an organization we had represented in the past and a cause for which she is truly passionate. McFarland prepared to move her PR skills into Minneapolis with McFarland Communications, continuing with several of her existing clients and some new ones. Eventually the rest of the staff were let in on the news, and they began making their plans. Amazing opportunities arose for them because they all have great experience and skills, while I, petty child, moved into the WTH stage of grieving. I was jealous that they were all moving on so quickly and I was moving…where? I couldn’t get excited about looking more traditional admin experience. Recently, McFarland and I had a conversation. She said she likes my energy and skills, and despite my lack of industry-specific knowledge wanted to continue to work with me, if I was willing to take on the task of helping get their systems in order and dealing with a really fluid job description working for unknown numbers of hours at least part of the time in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Oh…boy. This was a stretch for both my skills and my tolerance for city travel at a time when I was still a little emotionally saggy from the break-up, but if there is one thing I have learned watching these people, it is that you have to be nimble and leap for opportunity when it presents itself. I can be nimble. I can leap.
So, for the month of August, I will be archiving and packing and cancelling and throwing out, bringing to close a short but remarkable chapter. Then in September I will turn the page and begin making the 30 mile commute into Minneapolis, which I have been assured I will grow to hate. I am not thinking about that right now, however. When I was in my high school and college years, I always imagined I would end up working in the city, but until now I have never taken a job closer than a second-ring suburb. There is energy there, and untasted flavors that will help me mature as a person and a writer. My anticipation of this new experience downtown is successfully elbowing back any apprehensions. If Mary Richards can do it, so can I.
Okay, all you fabulous Minneapolis Home & Garden Show fans (and especially you wordtabulous followers, God love you all!) we have photos and most of the recipes up.
For photos, check the McFarland Cahill Communications facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/McFarland-Cahill-Communications. I took some of the photos, but obviously not the ones I am IN, and there are a couple of those, which is very exciting.
For recipes, check the Minnepolis Home and Garden Show website: http://www.homeandgardenshow.com/MHGS/AtTheShow/96.aspx which will take you to the celebrity guests page. Scroll down to get to the Kitchen Stage celebrities. As of the time of this post, the Roasted Corn and Orzo salad presented by Belinda and Bobby is not on their website and I am so sorry for that. I would be sorrier if this website wasn’t getting so many hits from people searching Google desperately for the recipe. Big numbers on Wortabulous! Thank you salad-loving, google-searching KARE 11 fans! I am sure they will have that recipe up shortly. There are a few other recipes missing, but most of them are there and are FANTASTIC.
The Show was a lot of fun, and I can’t tell you how great it was sharing the experience with you. The clean up is done, the thank-you notes are in the mail, the notes are getting archived for next year and this is a wrap. Thanks for visiting, and be sure to check back. My life isn’t all celebrities and fancy food, but new adventures await, and I would love to have you along!
Well, the chocolate cremeaux hit the fan today, people, and I was in the thick of it. And things had been going so well.
We started out with normal setup and a SPECTACULAR food delivery before our chefs arrived. To explain, Maggie and I ordered food for our local celebrity chefs based on the recipes they gave us. It involved careful reading and much anxious consideration of what would be needed, what could go wrong. You don’t want to be onstage and find out, for instance, that someone meant sour cream instead of cream, or wanted 2 lbs of powdered sugar instead of 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. So we are very careful about what we order. But, in addition to our celebrity chefs (local TV, radio and print media personalities) our stage also features restaurant chefs who bring their own ingredients (because they are promoting their own business,) and nationallly known chefs brought in by the Home & Garden Show and Cub Foods. We (McFarland Cahill Communications) ordered Yigit’s ingredients, but the Cub Foods chefs ordered their own ingredients which arrived today. SO MUCH FOOD!!! I was scared by the size of the cuts of meat and the sheer volume of cream and garlic paste, not to mention the sesame oil and soy sauce. And then, there was the issue of food storage. I had to totally rearrange my refrigerator to accommodate the meat and cream and as much of the lettuces as I could. Then it was time for our first guest chef to arrive. And she didn’t. Poor Elizabeth Ries from KSTP TV had trouble clearing security and finding parking. I would love to be a fly on the wall because everyone seems to be having security issues but I can’t figure out where and with whom. I had to race (consider this a jog or a trot) to Bay E to let Elizabeth in a back door.
Elizabeth is both beautiful and nice, and was making dips for the audience who had assembled to offer their reverence. I partnered up with her onstage. One of the dips was a Taco Dip recipe that one of her viewers had given her and one was a Spinach Artichoke Dip that was a specialty of her own. I realized just before she arrived that her ingredient list called for 1/2 cup of cream, but the directions specified sour cream. No sour cream in the fridge. We made do by adding a little cream to the cream cheese to loosen it up and it pretty much worked. Unfortunately, in the strain of her rushed arrival, neither of us was thinking clearly and we overlooked the need to do the baked dip first so it would be ready when the cold dip was finished. We ran out of time. About halfway through I was admiring her super cute knit dress over leggings and realized with horror that, once again, I had forgotten to offer the guest an apron. Also, I didn’t offer her water until she was done, so she basically talked for an hour with a dry throat. Was she crabby? No. She couldn’t have been sweeter or more gracious. But our next chef, who arrived early, found a crazed and loopy support person (that would be me) and a stage not ready for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, Elizabeth was able to finish her presentation on her own and with the support staff that KSTP sent, and I was able to start the cleanup and prep process for our next demo. I missed the dips but I heard they were amazing, especially the half-baked Spinach Artichoke.
Our next guest was WCCO’s Frank Vascellaro and his beloved mom, Rosalie, also known as Mama V. They didn’t need me onstage as they are a team unto themselves which was great because THEN!!! A guy shows up with a new refrigerator load of lettuces and fruits. “These lettuces will be ruined if you can’t refrigerate them in the next few minutes,” he told me, as I was trying to set up for Frank and Mama V. “Okay,” I replied. “If we need to put the lettuces in, I am going to have to take out the meat.”
“You can’t take out the meat,” he said.
“All right. Well, if I can’t take out the meat, then I will have to take out the cream.”
“You can’t take out the cream,” he said.
“Well, then you see my problem,” I said. I couldn’t make the refrigerator bigger for him, no matter how much he wanted me to. Maggie and Ashley resolved the issue by helping him reach the woman who could open the doors of the convention center kitchen, but he wasn’t satisfied. What got back to us was his complaints that we allowed his perishable produce to rot on the floor for three hours when what happened was that everything was taken to refrigeration exactly at the moment that he raced off to his next important appointment, within an hour of his arrival. I even allowed him into my carefully arranged refrigerator, which he totally repacked, leaving me clueless and grasping for the eight remaining presentations. I believe he expected thanks for handling the situation, so, thanks, buddy. He was also indignant that we didn’t have unlimited enormous frying pans, although I invited him to go with me to the Royal Prestige cookware vendor, who was providing all our pans, and who pledged to give us what he could, within his capacity. Not good enough. He couldn’t believe we didn’t have two panini presses on hand. “We were promised a fully stocked gourmet kitchen!” he complained. “Macy’s gave us all the appliances we asked for, that we were informed we would need,” I told him. “Fine. Go buy two,” he told his associate, whose sigh expressed that he had twelve other things he needed to do before buying small appliances, but fine, okay, whatever.
Meanwhile, there was a ton of weirdness onstage with the microphones. There was feedback and screeching and Aaron, who is normally right there whenever we need him was taking care of issues on the other side of the convention center. Later, when he got back, we found that Frank’s microphone had slipped down the front of his shirt into his pants, causing feedback issues. It must be that Caveman Diet that Frank has had so much success with, causing extra looseness in his clothing. Seriously, he looks great! So, that funness behind us, I hear Mama V say, “Well, I don’t see the regular sugar.” Shit!!!! I realized I hadn’t set out the staples, only the special ingredients, because of the interruptions. Friends, at this point I took off at a sprint between the stage and the audience, booking it to the ingredient area at stage right. As I ran, Frank announced, “Ladies and gentlemen! This is Lynnette, our Kitchen Stage assistant!” Could I have run around the back? Probably. It didn’t occur to me. The full audience applauded and I smiled and waved, disappearing and then emerging with the sugar, followed by the flour, and later the salt, and still later additional bowls. Oh, and the powdered sugar? I had set out 1/2 cup and Mama V needed 2 lbs. I gave her the bag and prayed there would be enough left for the 2:00 chef. Frank was covered with flour and cocoa powder when they finished the presentation of gorgeous Iced Fudge Nut Brownies because I didn’t offer either of them an apron. Yes. I was a total moron, and did Frank and Rosalie tsk and shake their heads? No. They shook my hand and thanked me for all my help so graciously I wanted to cry. Meanwhile, Lee Dean, who writes for the Taste section of the Star Tribune had arrived, with all the supplies, ingredients and utensils needed for her demonstration of Strawberry Tartlets.
Lee Dean was an unknown quantity to me, and unfortunately, I was unable to conceal that from her. I used to read the taste section of the Star Tribune all the time but we haven’t taken the newspaper for years. I long for the days when I could sit and savor even the weekly paper, but it doesn’t happen. I was stressed and distracted from the earlier debacles, but Lee Dean was so smart and friendly, even as I was falling all over myself trying to help her feel as comfortable as I had wanted to make my earlier guests, and only FOUR people showed up to hear her wonderful presentation, although enough people showed up at sample time to eat her entire prepared cache of tartlets. Which were AWESOME. She has had a cookbook published, too, and the one comment I heard on that? “Not enough pictures, hahaha.” Vultures. Hey, all you foodies out there. Buy her cookbook, because from her demonstration, she is AMAZING FOOD SMART. I am totally getting it. We can share what we love about it. Let me know, we can start a facebook fan club or something. She was a trooper.
Lee finished up and I was completing the cleanup when Rena Sarigianopoulos from KARE 11 arrived. She is the package, people. She invited me to mike up and join her onstage, (I believe she is a risk-taker,) and I had so much fun with her. A ton of people gathered to see her, and a little girl strolling by with her parents squealed, “Rena!!!” upon seeing her–I am not kidding, so cute! And she is adorable and approachable and made Buckeyes, and when she was done, she helped me do dishes and we talked about her involvement with a charity for Rheumatoid Arthritis and coincidentally I had, just the day before, sponsored my neighbor Cameron for her walk for that charity (Go Cameron!) And the Buckeyes were peanut butter deliciousness wrapped in a loving chocolate hug.
Then I had an hour break and I was able to go to the bathroom for the first time in three days. Almost. How is it that I don’t notice I need to pee or eat or drink when I am working? Am I broken? I don’t know.
Then, my new best friend, Dave Dahl, meteorologist from KSTP showed up. I fell in love with Dave the day before when I met him and he expressed concern about getting in through the convention center’s back door because of the rumoured security issues. I gave him my cell # so he could call me if he had trouble, and he had problems saving it. He must have said, “I am an idiot,” seven times, which clearly he is not and so now I love him. He is just as charming in person as you’d suspect, and taller than I expected. Anyway, he showed up with no security problems, and asked me to join him onstage, and as you now know, I am a modest but willing sidekick (meaning I didn’t actually leap across the stage yelling “Yay!!”, but acquiesced with composure.) We started making his “Buffalo Chicken (or Shrimp) Flatbread” when my phone went off. Maggie wanted me to go halfway across the convention center to let in our guest scheduled for the next hour, who reportedly was having trouble getting through security. Could I bring a ticket or a pass or something to back entrance C West? Folks, I had no tickets or passes. I shut off my mike, abandoned Dave, grabbed a list of scheduled guests and raced (this was a full-on sprint through the crowds, in my Cub emblazoned apron and 2 1/2 inch heeled clogs) to the security desk at C West. No guest in sight. I left the list and sprinted back to the stage, to the confusion of several exhibitors and visitors. I reappeared back onstage, and evidently was unable to hide my labored breathing or beet-red face, as the audience was much amused. Dave, I and his KSTP support staff finished the demo, with few other difficulties, and again, Dave was super kind and gracious. But Dave! Wear a helmet when you ride your Harley! We love you and want you to live a long and healthy life! And you make me feel like a wimp, wearing a helmet on my bicycle! Also, I loved the fiery sauce and creamy melted blue cheese that enveloped the chicken and celery on the flatbread. And the shrimp option for Lent? Genius.
The 6:00 chefs from The Lowry restaurant showed up before the 5:00 celebrity chefs, Beth Dooley and Bill Coy, who are food and wine writers for Mpls St. Paul magazine, but everyone got there, including Bruce and Dan, the duo who take over when it is time for me to go. Also, at that time, Eileen from Dole showed up and I had three things going on. I was debriefing with one of my bosses, Maureen; I needed to get a plate for the Lowry chefs, who had forgotten one for their demo; and I needed to see about getting shelves installed in our freezer for Eileen/Dole. This involved some more running around so I missed the Beth and Bill demo of Cheese and Chocolate Fondues, but when I returned to the stage, Bill was just finishing offering samples of two wines I can’t remember, a red and a white. I may have walked away from someone in mid-sentence to go get a sample. I don’t remember anything but thinking, “That. Want some.” And even though I hadn’t done anything more than help procure a few ingredients, Beth and Bill treated me as if I had been some huge supportive presence during their presentation. They were (I don’t think it was an act) excited to hear about Mr. Wordtabulous’ and my upcoming trip to wine country and San Francisco. Bill gave me his card so we could correspond about destinations. I want to hang out with them, although I am clearly too immature to do so. They would never run, waving, in front of an audience in a near panic, grinning manically. I am pretty sure.
As I left, Joan, the executive chef from The Lowry, was preparing to begin her demonstration of steak and oysters. Bruce and Dan, having set the stage, leisurely took their spots in the audience, prepared to relax and eat amazing food before the next demonstration by Mollie and Missy, from The Vikings Cheerleaders, which would be followed by another presentation from Beth Dooley, this time with Hilary, a Naked Grape Winemaker. I kind of love Bruce and Dan, but I can’t help wondering if they are possibly getting something over on me with this deal. I did tell them that in return for my taking the whole of Saturday evening I expected them to donate to my Tour de Cure ride, and they agreed, albeit with confusion. I have that effect on people.
Lordy, this is a long post. It was a long day. If you hung in there with me to the end, I love you! Tomorrow is a long one. I won’t get home until 11:00 or so. I know it will be an almost unbearable hardship, but you may have to wait to see how it goes until I have time to report back on Sunday. I am sorry. I, myself, am curious about what tomorrow will bring. How in the world will Chef Todd use his enormous cuts of meat and his perishable lettuces? How will Eileen from Chiquita manage with her frozen and fresh fruits? Will anyone come to yell at me to no avail? These questions and more will be answered…but not today.
You have two days left to come find me at the 2012 Minneapolis Home & Garden kitchen stage! Mention Wordtabulous and I will ditch my celebrity chef and give you a hug!
Related Post: Home & Garden Kitchen Stage, Day Two
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Hi, my beloved blog friends! I miss you. I am tired. This is out of order for the Working Girls series, and I apologize, but there is an issue of timeliness. As you may have gathered from an earlier post, I am a working girl again and it has been a very long day. I love my new job!!! It is a beautiful combination of organization, randomness, creativity and problem solving. There are moments of amazing. Last week I addressed packages that went to Anderson Cooper, Rachael Ray, and Ellen DeGeneres. And Ellen DeGeneres called back. Well, her producer did, wanting more information on the client of the marketing agency I now work for. I may give more details in future posts, if I get the sense you are interested, but there is a real thrill in addressing packages to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, among others. There is also the boring but soothing mundanity of repetitive express address label filling out, and the approximate one minute per package processing time at the Post Office (LOVE those people, BTW.) When you have 30 packages, that results in thirty minutes of life you spend with the very pleasant people at the USPS, which you will never spend with your children or collecting your thoughts. On the other hand: 30 Rockefeller Plaza and Ellen DeGeneres.
My agency also represents the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show, which is one of the biggest events of its kind in the nation. It runs today through Sunday, March 4th. We have over 700 exhibitors and some really kickass displays from what I’ve seen. I, as Admin Extraordinaire, am assigned to stage manage the Kitchen Stage. I spent most of this weather plagued morning setting up the full kitchen set with supplies for our chefs: restauranteurs and local TV, print and radio celebrity chefs. My colleagues Maggie and Ashley (REAL marketing associates with media spots to tend to later in the day,) carted in paper products, small appliances, pans, bakeware and utensils for all the chefs to use, and ingredients for our non-restauranteur, local celebrity volunteers to use.
We have one national Celebrity Chef in the lineup: Yigit Pura, winner of BRAVO’S Top Chef: Just Desserts. He could be my much younger brother; he is ADD, dark-haired and dark-eyed, a little naughty and knows his way around chocolate. He was my first chef of the day and because of the major ice and sleet storm last night, it was a slow start. But Yigit (pronounced Yeet) could not have been more charming. I introduced him (poorly) to the meager crowd. We made truffles together and he made this amazing Chocolate Cremeaux, which we served, drizzled with a floral lemon olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon flake salt, alongside a truffle. Heaven. He also helped me clean up, which was awesome because, chocolate? A huge freaking mess. My next chef was Sam (female) from Sawatdee, a Thai restaurant in Minneapolis. She made Red Chicken Curry and I was inspired. I am so making this. It was sweet and hot, and rich and delicious. It made me happy. She needed nothing from me but a little help serving up samples but I flatter myself that I was a notable audience question asker. After that came Vincent, chef of Vincent a Restaurant, also in Minneapolis. He is French, not terribly outgoing, but knowledgeable and super easy to work with. He made Scallops with Orange Sauce that made me sigh with pleasure. I announced him, got him a bowl and strainer for his demonstration, and helped him plate his wonderful samples. Keep in mind that these chefs are coming every hour, with 45 minutes of demonstration and 15 minutes of transition: one demo getting cleaned up and one getting prepped. There is a lot of furious dishwashing and countertop cleaning as well as new chef stage orientation going on in those fifteen minutes, but people have been fabulous so far. After Vincent, we had Beth Ingles, from Ellsworth Creamery in Wisconsin, accompanied by Des (Dez?) from KS95 radio, showing decadent uses of the Creamery’s butter, cheese and gift products. Beth served a variety of cheese curds (plain, cajun, ranch, etc.) and made Cheesy Rice Lasagna and Bacon Wrapped Cheese Curds. She needed no help from me except a little bit of plating for samples, and there was a lot going on backstage at the time, so I missed the bacon wrapped cheese curds, and if I had been more energetic at that point, I would have worked up some serious disappointment. I had arrived at 9am, after shopping for dishwashing supplies and an hour commute because of the crappy roads. I worked or suppported chefs (except for one bathroom stop and a coffee purchase) the entire time until 6pm, when I left for the grocery store, turning the stage over to my new friends Bruce and Dan.
There were five new recipes I had to shop for, that had come in late. I was elated, though tired, on the drive home. Once I got to the grocery store I was less elated. Three of the recipes needed avocados and three needed limes. Two needed mangoes. Two needed things the mega-store, Cub, didn’t carry. Several things were a little vague. I found nothing that matched the description 10 1/2 oz can bean dip. I got a 14 oz can of refried beans. I questioned the literal need of one recipe for 1 1/2 pounds of blueberries, mixed with other berries. I bought two 8 oz. containers of blueberries, some raspberries and strawberries and called it good. I had difficulty making quick decisions, so it all seemed very slow-motion and cumbersome. I wanted to do well, but there were some problematic calls. Dylan, who works a second job at Cub Foods, was a lifeline in the produce battle. I told him, inappropriately, that I wanted to take him home. I meant more as an adopted son, but I am not sure it played that way. I didn’t leave the store until 8pm. Just as I was checking out, Mr. Wordtabulous called. Where ARE you? I am on my way, my beloved, I told him. Well, not in so many words. But day one of the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show was done, and I was as ready as I was going to be for day two. Bring it, I say.
For those of you salivating at home, recipes will be available next week on the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show website, so be sure to check back. Let me know if you care to hear more. I am sure that more stories will be forthcoming over the next few days, and I will share them if you want! So let me know, and in the meantime, don’t work too hard!
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This is the second installment of the Warriors on Wheels series which is intended to celebrate unique individuals who transcend their diagnosis, and promote Tour de Cure, the event they participate in to help defeat diabetes. Ride. Party. Stop Diabetes.
Cynthia Zuber recently observed the twenty-fifth anniversary of her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Diabetes wasn’t the end of her life, but it wasn’t the end of her health difficulties, either. She was later diagnosed with other conditions, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and multiple food allergies. As Cynthia says, “Diabetes + food allergies = very challenging,” and as a result, she takes her health very seriously.
Five and a half years ago she began seeing a classical homeopath whose interventions have helped her naturally regulate her blood sugar levels, reducing, though not eliminating, her need for insulin. “I have found that holistic therapies have helped me feel my best, and let me live life well even with chronic health conditions,” she says. Homeopathy, Shiatsu massage, an organic whole foods diet, a daily walk and yoga 2-3 times a week are a handful of the things Cynthia does to stay in balance physically and emotionally. “Exercise is an everyday must,” she emphasizes, “as well as proper sleep, a good diet and controlling stress.”
Cynthia is a St. Kate’s graduate with a BS in speech communication and minors in psychology and theology. She is currently taking classes part-time that put her on track to become a holistic health practitioner specializing in healing touch and homeopathy. “I want to share the holistic therapies I have found to help others live a healthy and happy life. Health challenges do not have to limit you. Holistic treatments integrated with traditional medicine can greatly reduce symptoms, allowing people to live a much better life and accomplish their goals.”
One goal that Cynthia has for 2012 is a return to the Twin Cities Tour de Cure. She first rode the Tour in 2011, signing up two weeks before the event, and riding 27 miles on a mountain bike. She had mixed results from the experience, finding her lack of experience with cycling to be a challenge for controlling her blood sugars that day, but she was more than impressed with the overall event. “Being a Red Rider [a Tour participant who wears the iconic red jersey that indicates they ride with diabetes] and being part of the community of the American Diabetes Association, I have never met kinder people with more passion for a cause. They call themselves family, and they really are. The whole experience is one of being supported, encouraged, and cared for.” This year Zuber plans to ride the 27 mile route again, only this time with more training under her belt, and a lighter bike.
Another goal Cynthia has acted on to help share her passion is her blog, Diabetes Light: My holistic journey to health, which she began in December and on which she offers information about holistic health practices, perspectives on living with chronic health conditions and even recipes. To learn more, check out her blog at http://diabeteslight.com. If you like what you see, click the “Like” button, and/or find the Diabetes Light community on Facebook and join in! For more information about the Tour de Cure and options to join in, volunteer or donate, check out their website: http://www.diabetes.org/twincitiestourdecure.
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Related Post: Tour de Cure: The Finish Line
Dolce far niente (literally “sweet do nothing”) means that sweet pause in the busyness of life, when you stop everything, close your eyes, and (ideally) savor the taste of exquisitely high quality chocolate. Naturally, we can–and should–take a zen moment now and then, even if there isn’t chocolate at hand, but last night, at the Minneapolis Women’s Club, there was plenty of chocolate accompanied by some fantastic Italian wines. Jealous? You should be. My friend, Suzy, invited me to attend the event, hosted by Alyssa Schulke of Schulke Travel. We got a brief rundown on the Euro situation from Jim Audus of Ivy Funds, and Alyssa tempted us with Italian travel bargains for a few minutes before turning the show over to Anna Bonavita, owner of Bona Vita chocolates. There was a dark-milk chocolate, a salted chocolate, an American chocolate made by physicists who were converted to the sweet side, there was a chocolate from cacao beans so rare and prized only 20,000 bars are made from it ( I may have been a little inebriated from the wines I mentioned earlier but I believe that is what I heard–no, I wasn’t driving, shh!) a 90% dark chocolate that was a little beyond my ability to appreciate, and two marvelous truffles, or as the Italians call them, pralines, one dark chocolat and one cappuccino. Rolled my eyes back in my head and curled my toes. So good.
What did I learn? That the Minneapolis Women’s Club is beautiful. That the dollar is pretty good right now as far as the Italians are concerned, and they would love us to come spend some there. That Sting and his wife Trudie host a lunch once a year at their home in Tuscany, and Alyssa can get you on THE tour that can make it happen if you would like to be one of their 24 guests. That I can learn Italian, watch Italian movies and learn Italian cooking at The Italian Cultural Center (www.theitalianculturalcenter.org). That a woman with a check and a couple of glasses of wine under her belt can get totally carried away when presented with gorgeous and delicious chocolate shopping choices. That a small bit of very good dark chocolate, allowed to melt on the tongue in a moment of quiet meditation, beats an entire bar of Cadbury’s gobbled in front of the TV. (Don’t worry Cadbury’s, I still love you, just maybe not as often now.)
The first forty miles were pure fun, and that was a relief, because I had done a pitiful amount of training on my bicycle. The day of the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure (bicycling fundraiser) was inarguably the finest weather day thus far in 2011. I had raised over $500 (thank you family and friends!) and committed myself to the 62 mile route (a metric century—100km.) The route was beautiful, the volunteers were supportive and the paths were not too crowded to keep a happy pace. I was riding alone in the midst of 1500 other riders, but I’m not shy so I struck up conversations here and there. Over those first forty miles I had several enjoyable encounters on some of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever ridden, through communities including St. Paul, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis.
It was around mile number forty-two when I suddenly realized that what I was doing felt more like work than fun. The terrain hadn’t really changed—it was mostly flat with occasional hills into and out of river valleys. I was just getting fatigued. By mile forty-three my neck decided it was tired of holding up my head and started complaining. Loudly. Shortly after that I met Colleen, a woman not very much older than I am, who was wearing the distinctive red jersey that signified she was a diabetic. She had the slim strong build that many avid cyclists have and told me that her diabetes was diagnosed forty years ago. Forty years of finger pricks for blood tests and insulin injections. She had obviously taken good care of herself. The next rest stop on the ride, I eschewed the bananas and granola bars for a chance to lay down on the grass and stretch.
Later in the ride I met Amy, whose cousin Kristi died in her mid-thirties from diabetes. Amy told me that in her adolescence Kristi had made some rebellious choices about how to take care of herself, believing she wasn’t likely to survive past her twenties. Other stories I had heard about young people dying from diabetes illustrated that even when they made the best decisions they could, the insidious disorder could still steal a life away.
Miles forty-seven to fifty-seven were okay. I had a thrill zipping down Kellogg through green lights at thirty miles per hour, but otherwise I was just looking forward to the finish line. At the finish line there would be free chair massages, food, music and possibly some familiar faces. A party to celebrate the distance traveled and the accomplished goal of raising awareness and money for the cause. In the meantime, miles fifty-seven plus were starting to be a painful grind. My experience is that once you’ve been in the saddle long enough, the seat pain sort of numbs back to discomfort, which only surges back to pain if you take a break and then get back on (did someone sharpen my saddle?) or have something really unnecessary happen, like your foot slipping off the pedal after a stop and your whole weight crushing one place or another. I find that the neck thing doesn’t numb back. It’s cumulative. Additionally, in endurance rides, you can try to stay hydrated and take in enough calories but it’s tricky even if you don’t have diabetes to keep things level, and when things get out of whack you can start to feel sick. Finally, there’s a mental obstacle, in that the last couple of miles have that nightmarish stretching out quality that makes them seem so much longer. One could get crabby. But the blessed finish line appeared and the music played and the food was good and the massage was better. Mission accomplished, I was tired but back to feeling great. I could pack up my bike and go.
But those Red Riders? They are still on their journey. Day after day they must continue to grind through test strips and insulin injections and carefully consider their diet, exercise, stress levels, and hormone changes because that is life or death to them. In other words, they never get off their bikes. Diabetes is a horrible condition that affects about one in twelve people in the United States, but there is promising research happening. Be part of the cure: raise money, donate, or volunteer at a fundraising event. You know someone affected by this disorder; you can help them close in on diabetes’ finish line.