Wednesday, November 30, 2005

St. Andrew's Day

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, Greece, singers and old maids. The Scottish flag is the Saint Andrew flag.

Saint Andrew, a fisherman, was the first apostle. His brother was Peter.

St. Andrew's Day is celebrated every year in Scotland.

St. Andrew's Day is celebrated every year in our family as a way to mark of the days until Christmas, but also to recognize the Andrew we've got. "St. Andrew" brings the boys new books.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Battle of the Books

I guess I no longer need to worry about if I looked fat when I appeared on nationally on television in the U.S., as the only things you got to see were my hands when I was covering my eyes during our water tasting. (For those of you catching up with the rest of the class, MarathonMum and Mr.MarathonMum were filmed over the summer doing a water tasting as part of a CBS Sunday Morning segment on our friend Tom Standage).

Oh well. Hopefully the report will help sell more of his book, "The History of the World in Six Glasses." It seems that it has. A quick check on shows that it has shot back up the charts to No. 63 in books. Well done, Tom!

To compare, I checked the current sales status of another book by a friend, "The Things You Want to Eat" by Ted Allen, which is No. 1,729. You may know Ted better as the food and wine expert in the U.S. show, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Ted's book is also an excellent book, with a particularly good recipe for blue-cheese butter, which actually was something I made for Ted years ago, and it made the book. So while we helped Tom with "research" by drinking, we helped Ted with "research" by eating.

So with the Christmas shopping season in full swing, if you need some gift ideas, both books are great. But only available in the U.S. (or shipped abroad via

Friday, November 25, 2005

We're Going to be on TV!! (Hi Mom!)

Many moons ago, when the weather was hot and clothing was light, the CBS Morning Show, an American news show, interviewed our great friend Tom Standage about his most excellent book, "A History of the World in Six Glasses."

During the day-long filming,MarathonMum and Mr.MarathonMum participated in a water tasting. This was something we first did a year ago, as part of Tom's research for his book. The idea was that no one would be able to differentiate between the tap water and the water in fancy bottles you pay over-the-odds for to drink.

While I didn't identify the tap water, I was able to taste a difference between brands. This surprised me, not least of all because I really did think that water was water was water. But now I know better. In the first tasting, the one water I couldn't bear to finish was the tap water (though I failed to guess that it was the tap; that should have been a tip-off). My favourite at both tastings was the Fiji water, which is delicious, but I would never drink it on a regular basis, given the environmental cost of getting it to me, delicious though it may be.

In any case, they filmed our tasting. I enjoyed the first tasting much more, probably due to the fact that I didn't spend the whole time thinking, "How will I look on TV? Will I look fat? Will any ex-boyfriends see me?" I doubt that the tasting will feature prominently, particularly since they spent the whole day filming Tom and only an hour filming us.

In any case, if you'd like to see us, the story will be on Sunday morning. Check local listings.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is my most favourite holiday in the entire year: Thanksgiving.

It is a quinessentially American holiday, and you don't have to buy any presents or send any cards. The only things you need to do today is be with family and friends, be thankful/happy and eat well. (Done, done and done, I say.)

Here in London, we usually do a big blow-out all-day party on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, since today is not a holiday here, obviously, but this year I'm taking the year off. I decided to give myself a break from the one month of planning, the one week of cooking and the one day of stressing. Instead, we're going to have a small party with just the four of us.

The boys were enthusiastic about having a Peanuts Thanksgiving (i.e. popcorn, sandwiches and jelly beans), but I vetoed that idea. We will, in a nod to the genius that is Charles Schulz, be having popcorn as a side dish.

After dismissing the sandwiches-and-popcorn menu, the plan was to buy a chicken and make all the usual side dishes, but when it came time to pull the trigger at the butchers, I just couldn't do it. So rather than buying the 10-pound free-range turkey that would have cost me $65 (no, not a typo), I went for the smaller turkey breast, so we can still have sandwiches and turkey pot pie tomorrow.

Enjoy Thanksgiving everyone. Remember the cardinal rule: If you're not overeating, you're not doing your job.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I'm Talking To You Cordless!

That's what Lance (played by Anthony Andrews) says to Gib (played by John Cusack) as Lance floats in the fraternity swimming pool atop a raft while holding the cordless phone in "The Sure Thing."

At the time of filming, the idea of not being tethered to a phone on the wall or table was a revolutionary concept. Cordless phones were used by the rich or the gadget prone. However, and now I'm dating myself, the film is now 20 YEARS OLD (yes, I'm shouting because I've just had one of those moments where I thought, "Really? 20 years?? And I can remember who I saw the movie with?"), and now everybody has a cordless phone. We haven't used a cord on a phone in at least a decade.

Today, on my computer, I am talking to you cordless, thanks to my ultra-cool birthday present, the iBook. I am back in the warm embrace of the Apple Family, a very happy place I had to leave seven years ago when our relocation forced us to begin using a PC. Now I have to relearn all the Apple tricks (they're coming back to me slowly) and cast aside all of my bad PC habits (right click, I'm talking about you). I also have the tedious job of transferring over files, photos, e-mail addresses and other essentials into this computer, but the hassle will be worth it.

Now I can take the computer anywhere in the house and enjoy cordless goodness. I can multitask to the highest degree; the kids can watch Sunday morning cartoons while I read the New York Times on the sofa. Twenty years from now this will not be such a revolutionary concept, much like using a cordless phone is today, but for now, I am chuffed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Today in History


The Mayflower Compact was signed by Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. It would provide the basis for all governments of the American colonies.


Former slave Nat Turner was executed.


Washington became the 42nd U.S. state.


The Allies and Germany signed an armistice ending World War I.


The Tomb of the Unkown Soldier was dedicated in Arlington National Cemetery in the United States.


MarathonMum was born in Morristown, N.J., U.S.A. (Other famous people born today: Feodor Dostoyevsky [1821], General George Patton [1885], Kurt Vonnegut Jr. [1922] and Leonardo DeCaprio [1974]).


The Church of England voted to ordain women as priests.


Yasir Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, died in Paris. Mahmoud Abbas was elected to take his place.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Warning to Parents

Today's post was made possible by the generous support of Meg in South Carolina who sent this to me and to Google, who made it so much easier to post photos on the blog (have you noticed an increase in photos? Doesn't it make the blog more fun?)

Helpful French Phrases (in light of the current situation)

Handy French phrases if you plan to be in France soon:

* Ou sont les pompiers? - Where are the firemen?
* Avez-vous un extincteur? - Do you have a fire extinguisher?
* A quelle heure est le couvre-feu? - What time is the curfew?
* Pourquoi brulez vous ma voiture? - Why are you burning my car?
* Avez-vous du feu pour allumer mon cocktail molotov? - Do you
have a light for my petrol bomb?

Thanks to Tim for this contribution to MarathonMum.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The New York Marathon

On Sunday, 35,000 runners hit the streets of New York's five boroughs to participate in the New York Marathon.

While I loved running the London Marathon in April, and it will always be special to me, the New York Marathon is the one I grew up watching on television. I still distinctly remember the race in 1982, when Alberto Salazar won in 2:09.29 and Grete Waitz prevailed in 2:27, because I went out later that day to run my first 10k race. I was 13 years old. I don't remember my time, but I do remember that-- crucially-- I didn't come in last in the race.

I felt a slight bit of jealousy when I looked at the pictures Monday because I remember the euphoria of having finished a marathon. (The euphoria, of course, was followed by a week of not being able to walk correctly and eight lost toenails, but that's neither here nor there). Also, running in New York in early November is probably perfect-- good weather and the leaves are changing colour.

Now I think it's important to inform all of the MarathonMum fans out there (all three of you-- thanks for your support) that I will not be entering this year's London marathon. [If you listen carefully enough, you will hear my mother's sigh of relief worldwide.] There are several good reasons for this decision, chiefly that my personal trainer (now 2 1/2) is getting too heavy, vocal and strong-willed to push for the one-hour training sessions that are necessary to get the job done. When I say vocal, I mean to say that we'll be heading out for a run and he'll say, "No run! Park! No run! Park!", and then he'll point in the direction of the park, in case I'm mistaken about what he's talking about.

I thought about entering the lottery and then deferring for one year if I was lucky enough to get a spot, but in the end I decided not to do that either. I thought, first, since I was really lucky last year and got my spot through the lottery, it wouldn't be fair to the other 80,000 who weren't so lucky last year and were trying again this year. Also, since I knew I wouldn't be able to train pushing the 2 1/2-year-old, it also didn't seem fair to enter with the intention of deferring. I did decide, however, to take the £31 I would have spent on my entry and send it to my marathon charity, CAMFED. The money will be better spent by helping a girl go to school in Africa then receiving a London Marathon fleece (what you win if you don't get a spot) that I don't need anyway.

But all of this brings us back to the issue of the New York Marathon. Every year, the race is held in early November. As luck would have it, my birthday is also in early November. I have decided [listen for the drums rolling in the background], that I want to run the New York Marathon for my 40th birthday in 2008.

Anyone who would like to join me is more than welcome. In the meantime, I will continue to train in the hopes that the fantastic base I will have built up by then will bring me home to the finish in a respectable time.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Halloween

Responding to public outcry (OK, one person asked), here's a picture of the boys with Andrew's No. 1 girl Ella dressed in their Halloween finery. For those not familar with the Pixar's ouevre, Nicholas is Jack-Jack, Andrew is Mr. Incredible and Ella is a (non-Pixar) witch. Intense social obligations this week-- Nicholas had two birthday parties in one day!-- prevented me from posting this sooner.