Zoë Stagg

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Few things put perspective on what you need and what you don’t, than the prospect of putting it all on a boat for four months. It’s a significant enough amount of time, that it feels like you’ll never see it again.

"Oh hey, cookie jar that looks like a cupcake that I keep my race gels in. Surely you’ll still matter in 2015. I guess."

But the reverse is true too, and the panic sets in. And lists of disbelief as to how to manage three lives without beds. Towels. Plates. A pot or pan or knife to cook anything. That’s assuming we even find a kitchen and corresponding house. And very worst of all, is the stuff you can’t pack. The spot by the fridge where she took her first steps? That won’t fit on the boat.



It seems strange that the 22nd iteration of a task, it would be the hardest. I’ve waited for stuff across an ocean before. I’ve moved with just suitcases before. I’ve moved to another country 38 weeks pregnant. But this time there’s a third added to this party, and her comfort is the part that worries me the most.

Upheaval is part of moving, obviously. There’s a guaranteed period of paper plates until the box of dishes is found — but when the box is en route for an entire season…? It’s a privileged worry, undoubtedly. But even the Oregon Trail people had their stuff with them when they got to the Pacific.

Where do I sign up for that moving service? I suppose it would count as camping, but no more so that the prospect of sitting in an empty house with a kid who requires very complicated oven-and-cookie-sheet food preparation.

Plus, I sort of fancy a bit of a walk at this point.

Hey Kids! What Time Is It?

It’s Decorative Gourd Season.


And so time for the annual reading of the text. I lolled again. When it’s only once a year, the joy and novelty lives on and on like your favorite Christmas ornament. Or favorite Swiss Alps guy built out of squash. (Substitute this creation for “perfect replica of the Mayflower” as is geographically appropriate.)

It takes a whole afternoon and a fleet of Decorative Gourd delivery men to arrange these giant gourdicopias, because Gartenshau doesn’t mess around with fall flora.

NOOP, Issue #2…

Back for its somewhat annual appearance, it’s GOOP for Normals!


Ginger salt.

That’s the whole recipe. Two years here, and I just caught sight of this on an end cap (on clearance, where all culinary recklessness commences.) I’ve dabbled already in the special salt for french fries, the special salt that’s green and goes on avocados that go on toast (look out, the NOOP/GOOP Venn intersects on this dish alone), but this? This is hot like Ginger tea, and salty enough to make you muse about Ginger Salt Potato Chips, and say Garlic Salt, who?


Toss peeled and cut up carrots in olive oil, maple syrup, Ginger Salt, and some pepper, roast on 400 until you remember you were cooking something. Eat them all.


Search “capsule wardrobe” on Pinterest, use it to justify ordering a mix-and-match collection for your kid from an adorable site you unfortunately stumbled upon, realize said capsule is too big once it finally arrives, and hang it up like art to admire until she grows.



Create a pop-up art event.

Open paint pots. Find brush. Poke artist into glass exhibition cube (shower) and watch her disappear behind the painterly strokes in an Autumn motif. Hose the whole situation down afterward, and explain how sometimes creations exist only in the moment.


Or rather, have spent a whole month watching the mailbox and building it up, to decide you need the precise right time and reason to crack it open.



Hopeful you’ll have it.

What Does it MEAN?

There are a few words that become an inevitable collection across multiple languages — a comparison touchstone, if you will. They’re likely different for everyone, but “butterfly” is a common one, and probably because 80s and pasta.

"Rainbow" is a new one I’ve just collected, learned while sitting under a restaurant umbrella in the middle of a "German summer" shower with native speakers.

Regenbogen. Oh, German.


That confluence of consonants became Saturday night’s entertainment.

"WOW, look at that!"

Now, we were watching Step Up 2: The Streets, at the time, so it could have been inspired by one of Channing Tatum’s most compelling and naturalistic performances, but it wasn’t. Ryan pulled back the curtain to a full rainbow, arcing over the whole village.

Arc en ciel. L’arcobaleno. Regenbogen. Rainbow.

We oohed and ahhed like the guy in that video, and forgot all about Steppin’ Your Pants Deuce, Look Both Ways. The real Saturday night show.


Who knows how you’re really supposed to use panoramic photos if your image field isn’t 36,000 pixels wide, so please use my analog solution, and turn your head 90 degrees right.

Two pots of gold, in that one.

I Said Hey, What’s Going On…

It’s possible this has been my longest streak without posting in seven years. There was the Basic Training Hiatus, but that was planned. Since the big race, really — I just haven’t had much to say. Suddenly, almost a week has gone by and other than a fleeting thought at the end of the day, “Oh. I didn’t post. Huh.” I just haven’t had a thought compelling me to open a draft.

I don’t think it’s terminal. Everything needs a respite every once in a while.


In the meantime, there’s been life. There’s been the sorting and paring down that accompanies shifts in circumstance, one, that there isn’t a baby in this house any more. Weird. And so went her crib, various prop-ups, and dangle playthings. I’m not nostalgic about stuff — a year spent helping people carefully debate the benefits of an item versus space to live strengthened that resolve — so it was surprising to pick up a little hot pink hoodie and feel the need to keep it.

It wasn’t a special outfit, it’s a dumb pink Old Navy joint with ears. And my memory of it isn’t anything outstanding either — she wore it once to the grocery store, that first snowy winter here. There’s even a picture of her wearing it! That should be enough to send it along right there. But I remember Ryan holding her, keeping her content up and down the aisles, and how LITTLE she looked. So I kept the daggone mass-market sweatshirt.

And there’s been a lot of time figuring out all of the cool things she can do now that she isn’t a baby. What happens if we hijack Ryan’s brand new roll of mailing paper, cover the garage floor with it, assemble painting supplies, and let three two year olds go to town?


Surprisingly, nothing requiring a rereading of the lease. They painted. They pointed at the colors they wanted squished on the paper plate “palettes” and they made art, 98% of which on the paper. Cool.

We’ve chased through the forest and made whistle faces at the birds in the bush for minutes at a time. We’ve studied the tiny weird mice eating seeds at the pet shop. And we’ve followed the nose of a person who finds this whole, big, three-dimensional world pretty fascinating, and not always necessarily bloggable.

And there’s something to be said for keeping quiet when you aren’t driven to speak — or when the oxygen you’d steal is better used by voices doing more important work.

But I’m here. And I’m back.

Holzland Volkslauf: A “Wooden Country Fun Run…”

Google Translate made it sound like the Country Bears Jamboree were going to be there providing the soundtrack. It was the first a la carte running race I’ve done since May, and it’s sort of amazing how quick and easy it is when you only need your shoes. In my continued collection of sport club races within 25 miles, yesterday found us in Schopp for what was promised to be 10k through the forest.


There is a distinct possibility that while I will probably escape being a stage mom, will certainly escape being a pageant mom, I might have a little bit of latent “race mom” in me. Which is to say, Frankie very nearly got entered in the kinder race, yesterday.

"It’s only 400m! She could totally do that!"

Maybe when she’s two. We practiced next to the course anyway, just to see.


Pretty good-looking stride, I’d say.

The kinder races were about the most adorable way to pass the time until the start. We clapped and clapped, laughed as the kids started out with great gusto, and flagged a little on the back half, while their “pacers” cheered and ran next to them.

It’s entirely possible that losing-of-steam was a harbinger of what was to befall me.


"I don’t want to tell you what I just found out about the course."

"Tell me."

"It’s…up. They said three miles." Said Ryan, the veteran scout, gear manager, and ace photog.

"Is it too late to take up stick-walking?"

"That might be us by the end, anyway."


Because we certainly didn’t start at the front, nor did we see any of those guys again.

"Us and we" you say?



After a year and a half of trading foursquare check-ins and tweets, going to a lot of the same places and never crossing paths, @leibinet and I met to run together!


He got a crash course in looking for Ryan’s camera and smiling.

I’ve only run a race with someone once before, and it was a billion years ago. Plus, with some untold hills ahead of us, pacing could have proven tricky. I had bread crumbs in my pocket in case he had to leave me alone in the woods, having long lost sight of every other runner, as is my usual course of action.


We left the stadium and went up, up, and around, deep into the surrounding trails. Every time I’d start to think we must surely be at the top, I’d check to my left. Trees on higher ground? Not done. Nothing but sky? There better not be a ladder up there.

It wasn’t straight up, but a multitude of rolling hills that surely defied physics — how could there STILL be more up, when we were supposed to end up DOWN? But throughout we kept a pretty respectable pace — faster than if I’d been alone, it’s hard to push yourself when you don’t know what’s ahead to expect — and reasonable enough to chat when the hills allowed.


It went by quicker than races usually do, and though I wish I had a shot of the gorgeous mist-entwined woods down the precipice to our left, we had a finish line to check in to.

As we ran, his watch beeped off the kilometers, and mine the miles — it was a regular United Nations of robotic units of measurement.


Tamagotchi says 621 feet elevation gain, which I will convert into metric so you can get a more accurate picture — we climbed 18,928 cm, including a very rude incline right at the end.


Oof. But we finished much better than I expected given that Germans hide hills in their “woodens” — if I’d been alone, I have no doubt I would have been at least five minutes slower. Pushing yourself in a vacuum is hard.


I think the kids finished a fair sight stronger in their races than me.

The race itself was pretty flawless. Started bang on time, easy registration, medals for everyone, and the results were live the first inkling I had to check.


And leibinet lives on the internet AND in real life now — and that’s a pretty good end.

Actual good deeds are needed everywhere of course, but if I was a web designer, I would travel the countryside building and maintaining websites for small running clubs who host races. Of course that’s not their primary skill or concern — but sometimes half the challenge is figuring out when and where the starting line even is. 

I think I’ve found one for tomorrow, and I think “wooden country run” means “no PRs will come this day.” And as for finding things on the web — I’m running it with the guy I stole foursquare mayorship of the gym from a year ago. We’ve never actually met, outside of an app. 

I just hope my check-ins haven’t oversold my pace.

Actual good deeds are needed everywhere of course, but if I was a web designer, I would travel the countryside building and maintaining websites for small running clubs who host races. Of course that’s not their primary skill or concern — but sometimes half the challenge is figuring out when and where the starting line even is.

I think I’ve found one for tomorrow, and I think “wooden country run” means “no PRs will come this day.” And as for finding things on the web — I’m running it with the guy I stole foursquare mayorship of the gym from a year ago. We’ve never actually met, outside of an app.

I just hope my check-ins haven’t oversold my pace.

King of the Seven Seas…

It’s a famous as the “decorative gourd season" post, and equally relevant to my interests — "Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas…." It just turned EIGHT, which qualifies it for InternAARP, and yet it’s fiiiine. Worth a revisit.


First off, I don’t talk to them. OK?

That’s, like, the first thing. Let’s start there.

It’s not like I’m all, Hey, Peter Pufferfish, what’s up? and he’s all, Yo, nothing much, brah.

I knew about the piece before I realized who’d written it — and added him to my League of Extraordinary Nicheman, those whose laser-pointed expertise makes me a big fan. The League already includes: Paul Lukas; Paco Underhill; Stefan Fatsis among others. They’re not just people I like to read, they’re people I fan because of what they know.

In no instance in The League, do I actually add entrants for subject matter. Glen does comic books. I mean, I had an impressive collection of Family Circus paperbacks in my first decade, but… It’s the very act of knowing one subject very, very well that makes someone fascinating.


And in Glen Weldon’s case, it’s because he’s made me actually laugh more than any other person this calendar year. His sense of humor unmercifully haughty and heady and not a little peevish and it’s perfect.

More impressively, he can make me laugh even when discussing that little half page that describes the typeset of a book. Excuse me while I update my blog font to “Ye Oldey Navel Gaze.” It is too funny, you just had to be there.


His twitter is good, but he’s even better in audio. Bonus, it’s Friday! PCHH day.

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