Saturday, December 15, 2007

O Christmas Tree

For the last couple weeks, I have enjoyed my Christmas tree. When I moved to Boulder in June, I came with what I could stuff into my Subaru, and I went back to Cali for one more load in July. And I made sure to bring most of my Christmas stuff, because
Now, I'm no Martha Stewart, but I think my tree looks just fine.
Of course, since I moved out of my parents' house right after high school, I've been accumulating my own Christmas ornaments, and many have special meaning to me.
This angel topper is one of the first "ornaments" I bought when I had my own tree -- it's a replica of an antique china doll, and came from the Smithsonian catalog.
This is the first ornament I bought, and I believe I bought it while I was still in high school -- in anticipation of having my own tree someday. It's made of wax, and there used to be a wax ribbon border around it, but it's fallen off over the years.
I try to pick up ornaments on my travels. This is made out of aspen bark, and I bought it in Park City, Utah. Good friends Carla and Daniel lived in Salt Lake for years, and I used to stay with them when I drove back and forth to grad school in Tennessee. They took me to Park City.
From my 2006 Spring Break trip to London. Went by myself for a week, and it was the best.
A bit risque, but, hey, it's the Rockettes. While in New York for a professional conference, I went with grad school friend, Chris Anthony, to the Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Show.
In Tennessee, I used to ride my mountain bike around an 11-mile loop in Cades Cove up in the Smokey Mountain National Forest. One early morning, I stopped to wait for a big momma bear to cross the road. The next week, I stopped to admire her three cubs up in trees near the road.
Ahhhhh, cycling. This is my first cycling ornament (I have quite a few....), and is precious because it was given to me by Kristi Hill (now Eastin). Kristi is a former pro mountain and road racer, and was the head coach of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training cycling team -- she and our other coaches (including Curtis Eastin, her husband now, and my current cycling coach, Chad Fischer) opened up the world of cycling to me, and I'll be forever thankful. And Kristi coached Denise and me the two years we did Climb to Kaiser in Fresno --
she's a new prof at Fresno State now, and she's amazing.
We used to do El Tour de Tucson -- a 111-mile ride -- for our fall season with Team in Training. The first year we went, we went to a desert museum the day after the ride, and made an adventure out of looking for a javalina (pig!) there. Did you know you can smell them before you can see them?!!! They're really stinky, but thankfully, this ornament I got there isn't.
Go, Vols!
Go, Dawgs!
Eeewwwww....I went through a cow well-intentioned mom got me this during that phase, so I can't bear to get rid of it. I do, though, hang it at the back of the tree...
Over the years, I have received a few ornaments from students. I actually received two of these from Fresno State students. I kept one and -- shhhhhh! -- re-gifted the other!
It's the "angel of learning."
The Fresno Velo Bellas get together each Christmas for dinner. The original Fresno Bella, Denise, gave me this ornament at one of those dinners.
Mom and Dad give my brothers and me (and now the grandkids) an ornament each Thanksgiving. It's become a very special tradition that I look forward to. They've given me quite a few beautiful blown glass ornaments, and this is one.
Another blown glass ornament from Mom and Dad.
My maternal grandmother immigrated from Germany, loved Hummels, and passed that love to my mom. Last year, Mom went through her own ornaments, and put aside ones she had doubles of, offering them to us. There were a few Hummels, so I happily scooped them up.
She also put aside ornaments she'd had since we were little. There was a set of these blown glass teapots that didn't impress me much as a child. Now, though...sweet.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Southern T-Day

I need to do a little catching up here, all the way back to Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving Day, I flew on this Delta Breast Cancer Awareness plane to Atlanta.
I was treated to an amazing dinner at the home of Elsa's mom. Elsa and I went to grad school together in Tennessee, and it was pretty special sharing the holiday with her family.
I've never had my own placecard before...
The day after Thanksgiving, I drove with Elsa, her husband, Tony, and their kids to their home in Knoxville. We were greeted by our other great friend from grad school, Lisa, her husband, Sean, and their two boys, Aidan and Tanner. They came from their home in Virginia to spend the weekend with us. On Saturday, we met another grad school friend, Kathy, for lunch at one of our fave restaurants in K-ville, Silver Spoon. Of course, I forgot to take a pic there, but remembered, well, in the parking lot at Target.
This is (l to r) Lisa, Elsa, and Kathy.
Back at Elsa's house, we sat and visited a bit, and I felt moved for some reason to play Power Rangers. I'm not sure what got in to me, but surprisingly enough, I'd had no margaritas.
This is the newest Kelly -- Tanner Paul. Lisa had him in August, and he's hard to resist.
There were a lot of fall leaves around still. Love those Smokey Mountains.
Things aren't always what they seem...
Sean, big brother Aidan, Tanner, and Lisa headed back to Virginia on Sunday.
Before they left, Elsa and I both tried on the sling that Lisa uses to carry Tanner.
Apparently, he doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
Three grad school friends first thing in the morning...
"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves."
On Monday, Kathy, her husband Sam, and their daughter, Emerson, took me out for Thai food and sushi. Emerson was quite the adventurous eater, and enjoyed appetizers called something like Golden Nests.
She also discovered a novel use for her chopsticks.
I spent the night at their house because they live about 30 minutes out of Knoxville, and had fun rediscovering all of their UT paraphernalia.
It goes without saying that Peyton was my favorite.
He was the quarterback at UT my last two years there.
Emerson and I enjoy one of their two "Big Orange" recliners.
Kathy did some fancy painting in their garage. For those who don't follow SEC
football, the UT end zones are painted with orange and white checkerboard.
Love that T.
On Tuesday afternoon, Elsa and I met even more grad school friends for lunch at fave lunch spot on The Strip -- the Sunspot.
This is (l to r) Kay, Shirley, Elsa, me, and Matt.
Elsa, Lisa, and I give Shirley credit for recruiting us to UT, as she was the department secretary before we got there and made us all feel at home before we even arrived. She retired the year we got there, so I got to know her better at all the tailgates she and her husband, Red, went to with us. Great memories.
Kay and Matt are both graduates of the department, too, and both work at UT.
And what's a trip to Knoxville without dinner at Calhoun's by the river? Elsa and Tony treated me before I left on Thursday.
I lived in Knoxville for four years through grad school, and, though it's a terrible cliche, they truly were some of the best years of my life. It's such a treat to get to go back
and spend time with such good friends.

Deck the Halls with Some Bellas and Bettini

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sunday Spinnin'

Ahhhh, the joys of the off-season. Per coach's instructions, I've been off the bike for about a month, and am just now getting back in the saddle.
Over the weekend, I took two easy spins, and Sunday, I simply explored some bike paths in Boulder; they're abundant here.
I rode from home to the Boulder Creek Path, and took it to Eben Fine Park.
There's a sculpture garden at the beginning of the park.

At the end of the park, I stopped on a bridge to take some shots of Boulder Creek.

On the way back, I took this shot of a painting on a wall along the path under a bridge.

Training to race is fun and challenging, and definitely keeps me focused.
But there's something to be said for just riding to, well, feel the ride.
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Clean Team

Last Wednesday, I met friends Barb, Chris, Nat, and John at the team introduction of the
Slipstream Chipotle presented by H30 Professional Cycling Team
at the Boulder Theater, a beautiful old theater downtown.
Proceeds from the night benefitted the Davis Phinney Foundation,
and it was a really great night.

My camera definitely doesn't work well in a dark theater,
but you'll at least get a little feel for the night.
After being introduced individually, the team hung out for Q & A from the audience.
Magnus Backstedt is definitely popular with the Boulder crowd and got called to the mic a lot.
He's so dang tall.

People had a lot of questions for Scotsman, David Millar, too.
Prior to the Q & A, a great video was shown where he discussed his career, including
his doping conviction, his admission of guilt, and how he's come back to the peloton
after serving his 2-year ban. Pretty amazing story.
And nice purple tie.
And Dave Zabriskie...what can you say about him?
Yes, he's just as quirky in real life.
Someone asked him what race he is most hoping to win in the 2008 season.
After fudging around for a bit, he finally said, matter of factly:
"Probably a timed event."
And when asked by some kids what his favorite race day food is, he again paused before saying:
"Burritos." Duh.
The guy truly has the timing of a stand-up comic. On 'ludes.
(but he's not on 'ludes...)

I think Zabriskie might have taken a cue from the
Chipotle "blimp" floating to the left of the stage.

Check out the broken collar bone sling on one of the riders....
the Slipstream boys take the argyle theme seriously. Jonathan Vaughters and the team sponsors have put together quite a team.
Twenty-five guys who offer a wide variety of strengths,
find fun in racing, and clearly have great chemistry with each other.
I'm looking forward to watching what they do this season.