Sunday, March 31, 2013

Midway II, Day 3

Two posts in one day -- clearly I am avoiding doing my taxes.  And of course the internet needs to know what's going on in my life, so it's actually quite serendipitous.  In the ever-changing game plan of the weekend, it currently stands as blogging, doing the dishes, pulling the laundry out and going to bed.

Adam is sending Midway photos again.  Sign up for the jealousy club here.

Leaving on a G2 plane...

Dolphins off the cargo pier.

Cribbage with Tim!

In reverse order... Note that it's been 65-70 degrees and cloudless-skies this weekend.  The first well-earned good weather since November.

Dana came down tonight for dinner and sunset viewing on the roof.  I was more wiped from today's ride than I thought I would be, so I don't think I was really great company.  But dinner with Dana is always lovely, and it was nice (although I actually felt a bit out of place) to do it here instead of in Fremont.  I think she gave Gaia a dose of speed in the squeaky donut, because the dog had a renewed sense of energy, but has since PTFO'd.

The rest of today was relaxing and near perfect.  I slept in (much needed) and made it a point to not have plans in the morning.  I had intended on walking Gaia down to Georgetown for a doggie wash, but she was so pooped still that we didn't even make it around the block until this evening.  So I made french toast waffles and coffee, got my belated blog post up, and generally cleaned up around the loft.  Then I loaded Lexi on the Jetta and went in search of a semi-epic ride.  I have yet to remember that when adding three trails at Duthie to the middle of the Grand Ridge out and back that I need snacks.  Lots of them.  I only had a gu today, and even after five pieces of french toast waffles, I was wiped well before reaching the car.  I also crushed my pinky toe between the pedal and some tree roots, and I'm walking a bit like Igor.  To the ibuprofen!  And possibly to the athletic tape!

Yesterday I had a nice row with Lisa in the morning (aren't they always nice?) -- we got out on the lake for the first time in a long time and nearly completely avoided the intraclub race that had started earlier in the morning.  (Except for the part where we banged the boat on the ramp because we were distracted by the beautiful gay man on the dock.  No one can blame us though -- not once they've met Andy.)  Then I swung home to pick up Gaia and some calories and met Emily and her pup for a walk over at Seward park.  These two miles were too much for Danger Mutt and she's barely moved since we got home.  Emily and I went by the latest installment of the Patagonia sample sale where I convinced Mike to hand over the Fall '13 sweater dress that I've been oogling for a few weeks.  Regan and I connected there and she decided to join me over at the Worm a few hours later to get a taste of some Renton riding.  I had a great ride -- twice through Tapeworm and feeling strong the whole time; turns out chasing Adam around for a week was really good for my overall athleticism.  Regan did great for her first time out too; the Worm is not beginner-friendly.  But I think she's got a lot of non-NW riding under her belt, so she had a better base than I did starting out there.  I got home, got cleaned up, got the wi-fi to reach the roof and sat outside with a beer and the iPad.  Exactly what I had been wanting for a few days.  About the time I got chilly, Martina called and asked if I was busy or if she could come over with a bottle of wine.  Duh.  We threw some food together and enjoyed the Pure Grace she brought, and just generally had a wonderful time catching up.  More of that is in order.

Friday evening I went to the Paramount with Mike to see Phoenix in concert.  Their opening band was just bad.  Like a bunch of middle school kids rocking out in their parents' garage.  And maybe I'm getting old, but the bass thumping my chest and the standing and the crowds and the strobe light show were just too much.  I just flat out don't really like big concerts anymore.  Give me a night at the Triple Door any time, but Friday night I was really wishing I had ear plugs.  I'd still say Phoenix put on a damn good show, but it's just not my thing anymore.  (And yes, you damn kids need to get off my lawn.)

And to the dishes...

Six Days in Seattle

Adam has come and gone again.  Home from OH/PA and off to Midway.  I can only imagine the exhilarating reports we'll get from our hero on the tiny island this month.

He got in Wednesday mid-day and I had some flight test fights before I could escape work for the weekend.  But then we wasted no time and jumped on the motorcycle for a joy ride up to Ballard (after jump starting the bike... after I put a new battery in the truck a few days earlier...).  We met Dana for dinner at the Walrus, and experienced our first night of poor service in over two years.  It was a little surreal and I don't think anyone knew what to think of it.  But Mustache fixed the bill and we left happy, per usual.

Thursday, Adam's stuff sufficiently exploded all over the apartment before I could get him out the door.  Up to Hyak we went for Day 1 of NW Action Hero Fun: Skate Skiing.  The snow was slow and sluggish, but Adam made it to the dam before turning around to find me.  A few kilometers in to the trek back and we found ourselves fighting a 20kt headwind.  Brutal.  I found a groove and kept my tortoise pace going.  Adam (the hare) kept starting and stopping and whining.  But we made it, and I got up to the boathouse in time to coach the rug rats.  Dinner and a movie, then off to bed.

We're just pretending to be happy and not-miserable here.

Friday we got our tails up to Stevens Pass for what was probably the last day of lift-op skiing for the year.  I upgraded to 150cm skis and Adam drug me all over the backside.  I did complete a black diamond, although it was more on my butt than on my feet.  There was a foot or so of fresh snow, and the ungroomed stuff was so deep and thick that I mostly did a lot of falling over.  But it was great fun -- much like being a kid on the sledding hill during a snowstorm.  We called it a day around 4:00 before our auto-lift passes charged us for the evening ski time.  Back to Seattle for a quick dog walk, a quick shower and a quick ride into Georgetown.  Regan and Mike were holding a Patagucci sample sale and then we had plans to drag them to dinner.  I picked up the Primo down ski jacket and pants for a ridiculous discount, but also for more than I needed to spend that evening.  The new mexican joint across the street from the showroom was an hour wait, so we waltzed down to the Neapolitan pizza place instead.  Regan insisted that she and her other gluten-intolerant people could eat there because the flour came from Europe and was non-GMO.  That wasn't enough to convince me to risk it, so I stuck to the soup and crouton-less salad.

Saturday was going to be a day of pampering, but first we motivated ourselves to get out and ride Grand Ridge.  I think we both felt the two days of skiing in the form of very tired legs.  After an out and back, we were both ready for the pampering to begin.  I dropped Adam off at the deep tissue sports masseuse, and an hour later he emerged as jello.  Then up to Queen Anne for pedicures and snacks from Trader Joe's.  I think we swung by Evo to check on my bindings (which hadn't arrived yet) and then came back for cocktails on the roof with the sunset.  Adam decided he needed bitters for whatever he was going to make, and ended up on an hour long mission to acquire it.  So we missed the sun on the roof.  But I got the kitchen cleaned!  Charming Chance checked in and ended up coming over for dinner and Ohio stories, which Adam and I were both thrilled about.  It's not often that we get spur of the moment dinner guests, but I think it might be our favorite thing.

Manly men care about their feet.

Sunday morning we actually set an alarm, put on all our non-cotton clothing, dug out the camping gear and took off for somewhere west of Yakima -- all three of us.  Gaia was not thrilled about the two+ hour car ride or the suspension bridge, but definitely had a good time at the base of the rock barking at squirrels, eating grass and sniffing everything.  Adam scurried up a climb, then belayed me from above.  I did fine for the first third or so until I got to the crack climbing part, at which point I stopped and cried about it because I had no idea how to go forward.  Eventually I figured it out, and made it to the top, but avoided climbing the crack as much as possible -- so I probably turned a 5.8 crack climb into a 5.10 face climb.  At least that's what makes me feel better about myself.  We tried one more route, this one with a three-tiered roof.  Adam left some gear in for me to go get, which he definitely put past my comfort zone, but I think I made some good moves, got it all and even tried to get around the first roof.  Gaia led the way back to the car, with a little help across the bridge again, then we went looking for some place to camp.  We found a great riverside spot with a fire pit, mentally logged it and went back in to Yakima for provisions.

Where you guys going?

I only finished the crack climb because I had to.


Adam may have been distracted too.

It must have gotten down to 20 degrees Sunday night, and Gaia was not pleased about sleeping in the tent.  She was all around not pleased about being cold or being around the campfire either.  But we all survived and Monday morning packed up and went out searching for the next crag.


What part about this is suppose to be fun, you guys?

After getting the car stuck in the snow going up FS344, we hiked in (and Gaia was excited about life again) and did some sport climbing on a south facing wall.  By mid-afternoon we were down to t-shirts and had our pants rolled up.  I got up two routes -- a 5.9 and possibly a 5.10c, but Adam insists that I went around the 10c part of the wall, so I'm not sure it counts.  Either way, I definitely had more fun than I did Sunday.  Back at the car, we re-packed for the drive home, had a beer (or gin & juice), and decided to take US-12 back across to Seattle.  As we rolled back down mushy snow, I lost momentum and got us stuck in nearly the same place as when we came in.  The tires spun for a half hour or so before Adam got out the slack line and the tow hook and ratcheted us out inch by inch.

View from the crag.

View looking the other way.

Adam saving us from the snow.

Tuesday we met for lunch at the Georgetown mexican place with Mike and Regan.  The food is great, but the service is slow.  So two hours later when I got back to the lab and saw a note from my boss to come see him, I figured I was pretty well busted for calling in sick to go climbing and then taking an excessively long lunch the next day.  Nope -- apparently he approves of that decision making.  Turns out he's taking a new job and I'm at the top of the list to take over, at least temporarily until I figure out if I want to give up the engineering gig and go in to management.  So that was pretty awesome and I am excited and terrified about it.  But it should be fun!

We finished out the week with beers on the roof after sunset Tuesday night, and dinner with a great bottle of Honig.  Adam got on a plane for Honolulu Wendesday, was able to have dinner with Mikey Brown out there and then made it to Midway late Thursday night.  I think he's already counting down the days until he gets to come home again.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ohio, Day 31

St. Patrick's Eve.  Gaia and I are having some roasted green beans and Cava.  We were working on our super cute tote bag project until we realized that we likely purchased the wrong type of interfacing and are unable to continue.  So blog update it is.  It is highly likely I will drink the entire bottle of Cava tonight -- good thing my plans for tomorrow morning mostly entail lazing about.  I have discovered Pandora radio, and tonight is an XX kind of a night.

Things of note this week:
-- My stinky little brother has scored himself a trip to Italy for the week to "chaperone" the band on their trip.  I think this is highly related to the fact that his good buddy is the marching band's director and has very little to do with whether or not my brother is an appropriate person for this job.  Clearly, I would have been a better choice.

-- Pat, Fred and I have declared war on Stairwell Safety.  Or on the overzealous new building safety focal because s/he felt the need to print out FIFTY (Five. Zero.) copies of the "avoid a fall; use handrails" sign to distribute over FOUR one-floor stairwells.  Fred and I came up with a "Stair Use Checklist" and I posted that Wednesday afternoon.  Surprisingly, no one pegged me as the culprit.  Thursday, Pat was back in the lab and nonchalantly said "I have a sleeping bag in the truck -- we could illustrate using the ten essentials."  So we did.  I posted the photo of Pat bivvying on the landing Thursday afternoon.  When I got to work Friday morning, all three pieces had been taken down, which indicates that our building safety focal does not have a sense of humor, unlike the people in the building that I actually associate with, because they all thought this was hysterical.  We talked about going all Blogess on their asses and putting up a missing sign for the sign, but then thought we probably pushed it as far as we could.  Luckily, there are 49 more signs that are just screaming for something to be done, so we have options.  And not a lot of direct work.  (Actually only 47 more signs -- one has been turned upside down and another has a photo of Grumpy Cat blatantly disobeying the order.)

Missing:  Have you seen these signs?

-- Injuries sustained from last week's tumble off the mountain bike have left me sore and stiff.  I think I have the O.L.D.  I was unable to do much but go for piddly little runs early in the week, which I don't think actually did me any favors.  I rowed this morning with Lisa, which was the best I've physically felt since Sunday.  The original elbow scab has already come off and the second round is forming nicely.  And we're out of hydrogen peroxide.

Meet the Ice Station Zebra.

-- Jo and Arthur showed up in NW Pennsylvania to take Adam to dinner and hassle him tonight.  I originally thought that they had drove 8 hours, surprised him, and intended on driving back Sunday.  Apparently they flew and it was planned... I like the former version better.

Like I said, adorable.

-- Three hours with Mary Turtle over tequila/wine and butternut squash quesadillas.  Good healing, restorative, renaissance girl time.

-- Wine and small plates with Adam's Patagucci friends, Mike & Regan.  Regan called me somewhat out of the blue and drug me out of hibernation Friday evening.  It was wonderful.

-- French toast waffles this morning between rowing with Lisa and refereeing in the freezing hurricane at Green Lake. Definitely a new favorite. 

As inspired by Jennifer Perillo

-- That time I really wanted a bourbon/lemon/maple syrup cocktail, but I got the glass stuck in the shaker and had to call Kevin to explain how to get it out.  Also discovered a legitimate reason to keep the hair dryer around: warming the shaker to extract the pint glass. 


-- Three AM Wednesday morning when the old Ballard smoke detector's battery died.  Fifteen minutes later I found it buried on the toolbox shelf.  Gaia was not pleased.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ohio, Day 25

Painfully ridiculous single track race today. I'm not sure I'll be moving off this couch anytime soon. I think I'm officially over the idea of bike racing. There's a few more races in this series is like to do -- mostly to keep exploring trails other than the Worm or Grand Ridge. But I just don't like about 90% of the women in the cycling community. Or maybe it's that they all have their teams and their cliques and I feel like an unwelcome outsider and just not interested in putting in the effort to get "in" with any of them. I feel like I played that game with the rowing team, and I'm kinda over it.

Anyway, overcast and cool, but the rain held off. The trail was just built so it was a little soft in spots. One of the faster girls went down as soon as we turned off the fire road and I don't think she finished. I started mid to back of the pack, per usual. A lot of these women who have road racing experience just dominate me on the fire roads and straightaways, so I'm getting used to needing to pick them off one by one on the trail.

I was moving all right the first half, and then when the trail actually turned to twisty, climby, serious single track, I was able to pick up relative speed. Or I should have been able too, but spent the whole first lap buzzing the wheel of the woman in front of me who refused to let me pass. When I had given her the heads up that I was behind her and ready to go around she says "you can go around to the left" which was actually a statement false in the world of physics based on the amount of thick brush lining both sides of the trail. So that was enormously frustrating.

We hit the fire road again and I immediately went around her -- if nothing else, I was tired of her saying hi to every spectator; this is clearly a sign of not working hard enough. I got around a couple of other women before the soft section of single track again. I was pushing hard and on the edge of some full blown asthma, but it was race day. I crested the hIll and sped down, trying to maintain my small lead I gained in the open space.

And then I bit it.

I don't know what happened, but I went down pretty hard all along my right side. And I don't know how far back the next two girls were or if they saw my aerobatics, but they both stopped to help me up and make sure I was ok. I thought I was, so I got back on the bike and started riding again. A some point around that time, Trail Hog got by me, and that about ended my race. I was hurting all over and she was opening space between us. But somehow I got myself calmed down and convinced that I'd catch her pretty quick once we hit the technical single track again. Then all I had to do was sneak around her on the fire road before the finish line.

Sure enough, I made up the space of about fifty meters in about 30 seconds. Then Trail Hog asks if I'm the lead group lapping her. Considering we were the last group to start and on lap 2 of 2 I don't know who she thought was actually going to lap her. I probably should have just said yes and maybe she would have let me by, but apparently I still need to work on my ruthlessness. So I stayed on her wheel until the first steep switchback, and when she got off her bike and ran I did too. And I took two steps off the trail to cut inside of her line. And then she says, "woah, not cool -- you have to at least pretend to stay on the trail." But really, by the time she had finished talking I was already on my bike again and bombing down the backside. I quickly caught up to one of the women that stopped to help me after the crash and she yelled some words of encouragement as she let me by. The woman in front of her also pulled over when she heard me coming, although I'm not sure I clocked who it was. I had some work to do before I caught the other woman that stopped to help; I think I got her we as we hit the fire road. Then it was head down and push like hell until the timing chip beeped.

Second in my age group and eighth in the women's field. Not bad considering the crash nearly destroyed my juju and sent me to DFL. I was pretty happy with the way I rode the last bit of single track and DEFINITELY happy about getting around Trail Hog and kicking her ass.

I dumped hydrogen peroxide on my arm when I finally made it home and it bubbled up with great satisfaction. Then I ate a whole box of Mac and Cheese with a couple of chopped up sausages thrown in. I ibuprofenized my crash injuries, but sitting is still pretty painful and sleeping might be dodgy. Will post some photos if these cuts and bruises turn out to be impressive.

The race was a good distraction from the emotional train I'm still riding. I talked to Adam a few times and I think was able to get him to chuckle here and there. He's hurting and it's difficult to watch those you love suffer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ohio, Day 24

Today Adam wrote his first blog post in nearly eight months.  And it was one that caught me by surprise and has sent me on an emotional roller-coaster ride all day.  The title, "Holly" was nondescript, and before I was able to finish reading, and well before I was able to absorb, Adam called to talk.  Holly had been a climbing friend from the east coast.  And Holly had passed nearly a year ago, just after she and Adam had last checked in with each other.

I finished reading the post and started to digest.  I wanted the unpleasant feeling in my gut to only be the empathy that I felt for Adam.  The news of the loss has hit him hard, and understandably so.  There are people who touch our lives and it matters not how recently or for how long.  He described her to me later in the day and it was undeniable that she had made an impression and they had formed a connection.

Unfortunately, the unpleasant feeling wasn't just empathy.  It was an ugly bit of jealousy surfacing.  Jealousy of the admiration he had for her; jealousy of the words he wrote about her.  An uneasiness surrounding how he's described the last year of his life, and anger stemming from feeling like I'm putting in a lot of effort for nothing.  They're feelings that I'm not proud were part of my first reaction to the situation and feelings I wish I could reverse. I would liked to have been nothing but supportive and empathetic, but I just wasn't.

Tonight I did some googling on Holly and instantly liked her.  Adam said she was pain in the ass and far too upbeat and chipper for him.  And that she was the only other person who encouraged him to bring Gaia along and could laugh at the non-stop-whining the in the car.  Holly had given up her high-paying job in NYC banking and began living out of her car to embrace her passion for rock and ice climbing.  She exemplified what Adam is striving for.  And in his eyes the loss of someone so pure in the sport, so full of promise and "zest" as many internet mourners have described represents a loss of all hope that things will turn out right in this world.

From Holly's FB page on April 4, 2012:

Holly has left us and the world as we know it, in the beautiful park she loved – Yosemite.
She lived more in her 32 years than most could dream to do in multiple lifetimes.
Please celebrate her life by remembering her and choosing in your own lives to love and live your passion. 
December 26, 1979 – March 27, 2012

She shares a passing day with Tom, albeit two years later, which is an odd coincidence, if it is one at all.  There is little information on what (I have gathered) was a climbing accident on March 27, but it appears that she was hospitalized and possibly on some kind of life support until April 3.  I can't imagine how difficult that was for those close to her.  Indeed, collecting everything I read tonight about Holly, then one could easily argue that life is wholly unfair and that she never met her full potential.  However, she touched many -- including Adam -- in such a positive way that makes the loss much harder to swallow.  I find myself in tears tonight for a woman that I never knew, but who clearly made the world a brighter place.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ohio, Day 19

Pretty productive evening, just waiting for laundry to finish before snooze time. What was not productive, nor helpful in any way is how signing in to Facebook on the iPad imported all my FB contacts (to keep them up to date for me), because now I have 400 totally random people on my iPad. Guess that's motivation to start defriending folks.

Anyway, I did get a cake baked for Fred's birthday tomorrow. I'm digging this make my own powdered sugar thing. Bernie can't have cane sugar, so I've been pulverizing beet sugar in the blender with some starch to use in the frosting. And I tell ya, I sampled tonight's chocolate cream cheese frosting until I had a belly ache. Also made some salmon cakes for dinner and lunch tomorrow, which just didn't turn out as well as when Adam makes them. Got some kale ready to go for breakfast, got a couple of care packages ready to send to Wisconsin (no kale), and took some kick ass sunset pictures... Which may or may not get included in this post, TBD what the iPad decides.

In sucky news, Frank Cunningham has died. The legend. The only coach who could tell you that you were wasting your time in this sport and have you coming back for more. The man who's face would light up when you asked him to explain something or demonstrate a technique. The rowing world has lost a great man, kick ass (albeit unconventional) coach, and kindred spirit, and it's a bit more dull and unforgiving than it was yesterday.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ohio, Day 17

Today's post brought to you by my new iPad. Woot!!

Although I'm already convinced blogging or anything else that requires lots of typing will be saved for the laptop and its big keyboard.

Gaia is currently laying on my feet, which is a welcome weight after standing in the chilly rain at the Sounders game for the last two hours. I sorely underestimated the amount of warm clothes I would need. Especially given that the rest of today had been 60 and nearly sunny. I started the day with a lovely row with Lisa, just up to the Ballard bridge and back. The water wasn't great, but we both commented on how nice the headwind was on the way back, partially because we're a little sick and partially because a solid catch in a headwind feels pretty awesome. Then errands about Ballard and the U District, including coffee with the Harshman girls. Lana and Natalie have turned into strong, confident, brilliant young women and I'm always amazed and humbled to think that I had even the tiniest part in their development.

Spent a good amount of time just hanging out at home this afternoon, including a nap with dog snuggles. I had Gaia in at the doggie acupuncturist a few weeks ago and she recommended switching up the dog food to help with the non-stop itching. Adam also recommended fish oil, so Gaia's diet just went hippie. Salmon oil on the kibble for breakfast and a new grain-free kibble to see if the overall skin condition improves. So far, no complaints from the doggie department.

This week I made some progress on the home improvement list. Picked up a new salad spinner while I was torturing myself at U Village. Finally got another light connected in the bathroom after many failed attempts and Home Depot visits. Hung some super cute Japanese paper lanterns over what were bare light bulbs slung over the non-functional lighting wiring in the main space. Got the cave mostly cleaned up and usable. Laid down the diatomaceous earth to in part of February Fleamageddon... That was kind of a disaster; now it just looks like someone had a very messy cocaine party on all the carpets. So pretty good.

Tomorrow is single track race #2 in the series. It's down in Tacoma again, but I think further south than the last time. I upgraded to Cat 2 -- partially to get a longer ride (2 laps instead of 1), partially to race 3 hours later and not have to set an alarm, but mostly because I think I can hang with the Cat 2 women. And the main thing I need to remind myself of during this series is that I am riding because it is FUN. I've already caught myself a few times freaking out because I missed a training ride opportunity. That's only going to lead me down the path of crazy, so I need to proceed carefully. Sleeping in then having post race food and drink at the Walrus with Dana should help to keep me in check.