Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just a Few Things I Like...

...about and in my new apartment...

My welcome mat...

Cooking again in my own space, with a fridge full of all MY food...(I'd intended to take a pic of this Spinach and Feta Stuffed Focacia as soon as I took it out of the oven tonight, but got so excited to eat it, I forgot until one serving was gone...)

My clever use of a shot glass in the bathroom...

My closet that's actually big enough for all my stuff!...

My new hanging shoe organizer (and please note the non-flip-flops there, as SOMEONE thinks I live in flip-flops...)...

Well, and this. Mmmmmmm. 'Nuf said.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eleven Miles...and 20 Pounds of Ice

Three weeks from today, I'll do the Tioga Pass Run with Kim and Ann. Though I'm now living back in the flatlands of Fresno, I've managed to get in some good hill climbing, sans the elevation.

I've been getting some great coaching from good friend and owner of Pinnacle Training Systems, Felicia Gomez. We kind of have a barter system going...having recently adopted two children from Ethiopia, Felicia asks me child development questions, and I ask her "How the hell do I run?!!!" questions. Here she is with some of her REAL clients, who actually know what they're doing.

Today, though, she sent me on an 11-mile run that was all uphill (for all you Fresno-ites, I ran up the 4-lane and then 2 additional miles up Alder Springs). To keep me from having to run back DOWN the hill, she, husband Gus, and kids Ereste and Begashaw, picked me up in their car at the top. Well, actually, they caught up to me at about mile 7.5 on the 4-lane, and Felicia ran with me the rest of the way.

It was AWESOME!!! I'm still a cyclist first, and probably always will be, but I can't believe how much I'm enjoying running. I'm still so slow that gnats had time to raise their families while lounging on my sunglasses as I ran today, but it's damned fun.

At about mile 5, a hawk started to circle above me. It circled, and circled, and circled...and I got to thinking that maybe it was Dad's spirit looking out for me. I think he'd be proud of this new challenge. Well, and he'd also be lecturing me on being careful running by traffic...but he'd still be proud.

Of course, there's some pain involved in the running, too. Felicia has been helping me with a pain in my left leg -- she could explain the science much better than me, being an exercise scientist and all, but essentially, some of my quad muscles are overdeveloped from cycling, and others are underdeveloped. And I've been straining the ones that are underdeveloped by running. She's given me some stretches to do that are helping, and after my run today, she ordered me to take an ice bath.

Directions: Fill bathtub with cold water. Sit in tub a minute or two to acclimate. Pour 20 pounds of ice into the tub. Sit in the ice water for 15 minutes. Well, and try not to shiver your teeth right outta your head.

Felicia told me I'd hate her for the first 5 minutes or so. I texted her that I didn't HATE her, but that she had fallen way down on my list of friends as soon as I poured in that ice. She texted back a laugh, and told me she'd be #1 on my list in the morning.

I think she might be right, as, considering I ran 11 miles uphill legs are feeling pretty damned good.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gone...But Not Forgotten

Can't believe that it was 10 months ago this morning that I got the call that Dad was gone. Still can't believe he's gone...can't believe so much time has gone by...and can't believe life has gone on.

Mainly, though, I can't believe how much I still feel him with me, and how much I still feel our relationship growing.

Love you, Pop.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17th, 1958

Two days ago was Mom and Dad's 52nd wedding anniversary. A beautiful and hard day all at the same time this year, our first without Dad. I had to go back to work today in Fresno, Jim and Missy are in Alaska, and Bill and Cathy also had to be at work, so Mom was in Bridgeport without all of us. Not good. But thankfully, she has GREAT friends who, after being alerted by me that it was their anniversary, kept her busy all day.

On the evening of their anniversary, I went back through all the pictures from the surprise 50th anniversary party we threw for them two summers ago, and picked some of my faves to post here as a remembrance. Though I've made it into my new apartment, though...high speed internet hasn't yet. Couldn't get the pics to load the other night, and tonight, have just managed to get a few before getting too impatient, so I'll just make due.

The party was great, and Mom and Pop were SO surprised. Still not sure how we managed to pull that off in such a small town! TONS of Mom and Dad's friends showed up to celebrate with us, from as far away as Colorado (those Eidsons are DEDICATED!). We got them there -- and dressed in Hawaiian shirts, no less, to go along with the theme! -- by telling them we wanted to take a family picture up at Twin Lakes. Missy loves all things Hawaiian, so we just told them we thought it'd be cool if we were all in Hawaiian clothes for the pic. They both rolled their eyes at this, but thankfully played along. Bill drove them, and pulled off at the Barns and Terrace on the way to Twin Lakes, saying he had to stop by for something...will NEVER forget the looks on their faces and how humbled and happy they were with the party.

Here are a few of the friends who helped us celebrate (of course, I TRIED to load a bunch more pics of friends...): Dougie and Pete (golfing buds of Dad's), PJ (one of Mom's best friends and married to Pete), and Big Tom (a friend who comes up to Bport to fish each summer, and always brought Dad great homemade tamales).

Some of the Fishin' Mission boys even came to help us celebrate.

Bill, Jim, and I each told a few of our favorite stories about Mom and Dad. I ended the talking portion with a toast.

We made Mom and Dad laugh and cry intermittently, but really choked 'em up with the toast. Unfortunately I don't have it written down anywhere...but apparently, it was awesome.

And this is the last picture we have of our entire family together. How appropriate that it was to celebrate such an incredible milestone.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Thanks for loving each other -- and us -- so well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 10: Reconnected with MS Global-ites

In 2006, I did my first MS Global, a week-long bicycle ride in the Alps of France, Italy, and Switzerland to raise money for MS, sponsored by the Tyler Hamilton Foundation. I did it again in 2007, and that year we spent the entire week in the Dolomites in Italy. While there were too many amazing things about these experiences to ever completely cover in writing, one of the greatest perks was the lifelong friends I've made. And I was lucky enough to see a few of them this summer!

Michelle Leighton and her boyfriend, Dave, came by and had dinner with me at Rhino's last week before taking off on a 5-day backpacking trip from Leavitt Meadows. Michelle had done the 2005 MS Global, and I met her on a THF domestic ride before I did the 2006 Global.

And then last Thursday, Patti and Paul Columbus met me in Lee Vining so Patti and I could ride the June Lake Loop. She and husband Paul were in Mammoth for a few days, and it was so great to catch up with them again, too. Patti rode in both Globals, and Paul came along for support.

I didn't get pics of their visits, really, but it was so fun reminiscing with them that I thought I'd relive some Global memories here and put up a few of my fave pics...these don't even scratch the surface, so if you want to see more, you can scroll back to 2007 in my blog to find more of that second year. I didn't have a blog yet in 2006....!

First, though, it's important to note who I started doing MS rides of my best friends from grad school, Lisa. This is her with her oldest son, Aidan. She was diagnosed shortly after I left Tennessee, and though the disease has been steadily progressive, she is truly one of the strongest people I know. Love her and am absolutely honored to ride for her.

Our first year, we spent some time in a part of Italy that used to be Austria. On one of the nights, a few of us girls went to a Hofbrau, and had AMAZING food! Well...and beer.

This is Patti, and she and I both got a meal called something like "The Barbarian's Feast." And no...we didn't split one. We EACH had one of our own. Hey...we were putting in a lot of tough miles!

On each Global, we had an incredible support staff -- mainly volunteers -- who led our rides, worked on our bikes, gave us massages, loaded and unloaded our luggage each day, and even brought us espresso at some of our rest stops! Natalie is doing that here -- she's married to John, one of the riders, and went on the first Global with us.

The first night in Switzerland in 2006, Pat, Karen (or lil Hudie), Patti, and I were given crowns for being top fundraisers. Larry, one of our ride leaders, just wanted in a shot with beautiful biker chicks.

On one of our first rides in Switzerland, we came across a yard full of what seemed like zillions of lawn gnomes. This one, though, caught my attention.

One of the most amazing aspects of the rides is that we always had riders with us who actually have MS. In Italy the second year, these were all those riders -- Pat, Jimmy D, lil Hudie, and a great guy whose name I have forgotten -- my bad!

Also in the second year, Michelle joined us -- at the time, she was Larry's girlfriend, and they've since gotten married. I LOVED riding with her, and hope we get to ride again at some point. Here, Larry was taking a pic of us, and as you can see, we were having a little too much fun.

We finally got serious. My hand was bandaged on this whole trip because I had an injured thumb.

While we did a LOT of challenging rides (mileage and elevation gained are noted in my original blog posts), this day was the hardest. This was the second year in Italy, and we climbed Passo San Pellegrino (yes, the home of the sparkling water)in the morning, and Passo Fedaia in the afternoon -- with a hellacious headwind the majority of the way. Here, I posed for a triumphant shot at the top of Fedaia with Colorado friend, Jack Irving.

Of course, there were infinite breathtaking views along the way each year, and this was the view that we were rewarded with on the descent down the other side of Fedaia.

Posed for this picture with Tyler on one of our rides in Italy the second year. We were in a beautiful little mountain village...the village was small...not the mountain.

The climbing highlight of the Dolomite year was climbing Passo Stelvio -- 48 switchbacks! Each was marked, starting with 48 at the bottom...this way, you knew exactly how much torture was to come.

Just one of the steep switchbacks on Stelvio. At the top, ride leader John Heidemann had two baseball mits and a baseball. He had told his 4-year-old daughter that he'd bring her back a ball that he'd played catch with up cool is that? And even cooler...I got to play catch after finishing, too!

And what better way to celebrate a successful ascent of Stelvio than sharing some Stelvio beers?

And though it's certainly hard to choose, this is one of my favorite shots -- I didn't take it, but stole it from another participant! It was taken on our first day in the Dolomites that second year, and the weather was frigid, but we still had a blast. The weather the rest of the time was fantastic.

Damn good times. And it was fabulous to see Patti, Paul, and Michelle again, here in my hometown neighborhood, this summer.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 9: Missed Dad

It kind of goes without saying, yes. I miss Dad every day. Thankfully, the passage of time is helping make the missing a bit sweeter. And tonight? It was more than tasted like John Asquaga's Pan Roast.

Dad LOVED to eat, and he loved many different types of food. He and Mom had that in common, and they definitely fostered it in all of us. While there are an infinite number of wonderful memories of Dad and our family, some of the sweetest memories involve the many meals we all shared together, and the many meals we all prepared together in Dad and Mom's house. We even took pictures in the kitchen, like this one a few Christmases ago, as we were preparing Christmas Eve dinner together, I think.

Dad also loved to go out to eat, and years ago, he discovered John Asquaga's Nugget in Sparks (near Reno), and their Pan Roast. It's an amazing seafood stew that he used to order at a bar there, and he loved it. He loved it so much that he talked John Asquaga into giving him the recipe, and he used to make it for us at home. Dee-lish. Tonight, Mom had Jim and me up to the house because she had some shrimp and scallops she wanted to she wanted us to make Pan Roast. Jim made it...and he did Dad proud. It was fantastic. And being with Mom and Jim in the house where Dad and Mom raised us, well, that was, of course, priceless.

Of course, we always have sourdough bread with the Pan Roast. Tonight, though, we had a special sourdough from Boudin's in San Francisco. Missy and Jim ordered Mom a "Seasonal Bread" one-year gift from them for her birthday -- she'll get roughly one seasonally-shaped bread every month or so. June's came today (yah, a little late, but it was obviously fresh!), and it was in the shape of a streetcar. Cool, huh? And tasty to boot.

And since my birthday -- spent this year in San Francisco -- Boudin's has special meaning to me, so that was priceless, too.

I know Dad would have enjoyed our dinner tonight. And I could feel him with us. Gotta love that.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 8: Fell in Love

I know. Shocking. Shocked the shit out of me, too. It’s so cliché, that it happens when you least expect it, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t true. For goodness sake, though I know this will sound negative (and I honestly don’t mean it or feel it that way), but I truly thought the statute of limitations had run out on the possibility of my falling in love. And though I have worked hard to keep myself open to it happening while building a full life that truly fulfills me, well, it’s just been so long, I had come to terms with it possibly never happening again. It’s been about 24 years since the first (and probably only real time) I ever fell in love, after all. Now that’s not to say that I don’t fall in lust here and there (thank goodness)…but there’s a helluva big difference between love and lust…in terms of romantic relationships, this red-blooded American girl thinks that, ideally, the former includes the latter. For me, though, the latter hasn’t really included the former for, well, 24 years.

There’s some bad news, though. Though I fell in love, at this point, I'm unsure if there will be a relationship. Yah…bummer. With good reasons that I won’t expand on here. What I will expand on are some of the ways I’ve been impacted by this, have grown and learned through it.

First, hell, now I know I can still fall in love. That’s quite the relief. I think that somewhere deep down I thought I might be broken. I don’t know exactly what it is inside of us that allows us to fall in love, but I figured whatever it is in me, was just broken. It’s not. Whew.

I also know that when it does happen, in addition to coming out of the blue, it’s so easy. My God, it’s sooo easy. It just happens. It’s not there one day. And it’s there the next. Big. Bold. Amazing. Mmmmmm. Yummy. I haven’t been a monk all these years, so I’ve dated and lusted and dated some more, and because the “love” thing never materialized even when I really liked a guy and wanted it to, I think I developed the idea that it takes a lot of work to fall in love. Hmph. Not so much. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to realize it takes work to make a relationship, to keep the love alive and truly fulfilling….but to actually take the fall? may only come every couple decades in my life, but, damn, when it shows up, it’s effortless. Again…mmmmm.

People ask me all the time why I’ve never married. Depending on who is asking, and how it’s being asked, the question can be flattering…not really affect me one way or the other…or be just plain insulting. But no matter how or when it’s asked, I never really have a solid answer. One minute, it can feel like there are millions of reasons, and the next? Like there are absolutely no explanations. But another really important thing I learned from falling in love this summer is that I’ve made the right decision by not marrying. That first time I fell in love, at the mere age of about 19, I wasn’t even close to being ready for the type of work and commitment it must take to maintain a strong marriage. Hell, I wasn’t even ME yet (yah…I know…yet another cliché…but true). Maybe we could have made it work, I don’t know. But I do know that the paths that decision set me on have been amazing. I love my life. I love who I am, where I am and what I’m doing, and all the freedom I have to continue to grow wherever and in whatever way I choose. And besides, I haven’t been in love – for real – since then. Until now. That’s not to say that I never will marry. But for whatever reason, it took me a really long time to fall in love again, and I know if I am ever to marry, it will only be for the kind of love I just experienced. It was perfect. Well, except for the fact that it may not culminate in a relationship. Yah. I realize that’s a conundrum. But it all makes sense to me.

And that’s another thing I’ve learned. It only needs to make sense to me and the guy I fall for. I’ve spent a lot of time, not only in the arena of love but in many other arenas in my life, considering what others are thinking about what I’m doing or feeling. I haven’t always been able to admit that to myself (a bit prideful, I am), but have realized through a variety of circumstances recently that it’s the truth. Ummm…now I know…not always so important. Perhaps I’m not giving myself enough credit, though, because if I did worry too much about what others thought, I would have gotten married to the wrong guy a long time ago – after all, women are pretty much considered freaks if we don’t get married. Hell, men are, too, for that matter. (But I think women are considered MORE freakish.) But feeling all the things I’ve felt recently, figuring out what’s possible, what I want, what I need…has made me realize that I don’t need others to understand or approve of my feelings to feel at peace with those feelings. Man, that’s empowering. Don’t worry, I’m not going to become all antisocial and deviant or anything (well, other than maybe never choosing to marry – blasphemy!), but I’m just more at peace with knowing what I want. And I won’t settle for anything less than the kind of love I’ve just experienced.

So, that’s just a few of the things I’ve learned, and a few of the ways I’ve been impacted by falling in love this summer. It all seems good, no? Mmmmm….there’s more, of course, that’s not so comforting. Like, well, it hurts like a mother fucker to fall for someone (and feel fairly certain the feelings are reciprocal) and realize the universe might not be aligned the way it needs to be for the love to get a chance to do more than take root. Like. A. Mother. Fucker. When I think of all of this, the entire progression and context of falling in love this summer within the broader context of who I am and what my life is, I know all is alright…all has happened for a variety of reasons, and has likely even happened to prepare me for something even better to come. But when I think of him…and how he may suddenly. Not. Be. In. My. Life. At. All. Ever. Holy shit. That’s empty. And awful. And so very, very disappointing. Because it felt really, really good to be in his arms, to simply be in his presence. He got Bridgeport (a VERY important thing to me). And he got me. Hell, he saw me more clearly than guys I dated for two to three years…How is that possible? Yah. Don’t know. And don’t feel like I even have to explain or reassure anyone else that it’s true. It just is. I miss him. I miss the reality of us…and the potential of us. Plain and simple.

But again, when I shift my focus back to the broader context of my life as a whole…I know all is alright, and will continue to be so. No regrets.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 7: Ran and Rode Some More

Though I certainly haven't done it on any regular schedule, I have had a few days this summer when I ran with my fave girls at the butt-crack-of-dawn, and then did a solo ride later. Today was another one of those. I met Ann, Tim (Ann's husband, yes...not a girl), Kim, and Kat (our numbers are getting bigger!) at 6:00, and we drove out to Bridgeport Reservoir.

We parked at the dam, and did a 3-mile run that took us across the dam, out a road toward Mount Jackson, down toward the beach, and then back. It was exhilarating after our 6-mile Tioga run yesterday, and I had more energy than I expected. At Kim's urging, we even sprinted back across the dam to the finish -- awesome! (Of course, remember that MY sprint is, well, most other people's brisk walk!)
After high-five's all around and the drive back into town, I put on my Bella kit and headed out on my trusty Ruby Pro. Initially, I thought I'd climb Conway and then go out and back to Virginia Lakes, but on second thought, decided to go up and over Conway and do the out-and-back to Lundy Lake before returning home. Hadn't done that yet this season. Once I'd turned onto the Lundy Lake road, the views were beautiful all the way, and there was hardly a breeze -- a nice change from early summer.

There are a lot of my favorite trees on the way to Lundy -- Aspen. I've never been up there in the fall, but the colors must be gorgeous.

The lake is 5 miles up, and there were quite a few fishermen around.

The canyon narrows as you near the end of the lake, and there's beautiful rock formations on both sides. This is on the North side, and Denise could probably tell us SOMETHING about how the rocks got there...but, um, I'm not a geology girl, so you'll get nothing from me.

The store is very cool, and I was able to replenish my water and electrolytes. Can't be careful enough with those electrolytes.

Saw this sign in the store...I think we need one at Ken's.

Outside the store is a tree filled with uniquely-shaped birdhouses. Didn't see any birds in them, though. Perhaps the rent's too high.

Walked down toward the lake for a closer view, and then made the screaming 5-mile descent back to Hwy 395, Conway, and home.

Not much summer left, but determined to take advantage of the remains!