Friday, February 27, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

It was a beauty. Today. I woke up to BLUE SKY. Do you know how long it's been since I woke up to a blue sky?

We made the most of it. Fred and Jan came over and we packed up the skis, and the 'Plan B' snowshoes, and headed up to Mt Hood Meadows.

The nordic area is free on week days. And Meadows just got dumped with about 4 feet of new snow this week. Alas, the trails were packed but not groomed, and it was messy bumpy going.

We were so happy it was sunny, and the snow was dry, that we didn't care. We did the loop around to the downhill hut, had a snack, then headed back to the parking lot.

What next? We headed up to White River, where humongous mud and rock slides wiped out everything in their path a couple of years ago.

We opted to snowshoe just for a change of pace. It was just breathtaking. We hiked along the river and snapped picture after picture of Mt. Hood, which finally decided to show herself. Unbelievably beautiful.

The shadows got long, so we headed down the mountain to Sawtooth Cafe for a brewski. Fired up the grill when we got home, and had a great steak dinner, complete with a couple bottles of local grape (Maryhill Sangiovese and Wind River Cab Franc 2006). The grand finale? A long soak in the hot tub with a clear sky and tons of stars. No photos. You have to come see that for yourself.

Why my friends are not beating down my door to visit, I do not know. Y'all are crazy. Don't you know your rooms are ready??????

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tea Cup Wednesday

This morning we headed up Hwy 35 to Tea Cup, the nordic ski area just past Pocket Creek where we skied Valentine's Day. The Tea Cup Nordic Club and US Forest Service folks were having a clinic for all of us volunteers for next month's ski outing for the kids at the Blind Schools in Salem OR and Vancouver WA. It was a beautiful day, so Lloyd, Elliot and I stayed after our instruction session for a little recreation. Who knows how long the good snow will last?

We left the warming hut and headed up the road to The Screamer trail. It was my first time down The Screamer, a long, winding downhill road. I did not scream. I did take my time, snow plowed down most of it, whistling parts of Vivaldi's Four Seasons for some strange reason. Why does music pop into your head?

After we got down The Screamer we headed off to the back trails outside of the Tea Cup area that are part of the Pocket Creek system. We stopped at a great viewpoint for lunch, pooling our snacks for a picnic. Between the three of us we had trail mix, wheat thins, triscuts, three kinds of cheese, dried apples, a dried strawberry tape, summer sausage, and best of all, ELK SAUSAGE (thanks Elliot).

We were ambushed by at least half a dozen gray jays (aka camp robbers) who followed us for a while, waiting for the inevitable crumbs. They were very bold. They sat on our ski poles. One ate some crumbs out of my hand, then bit me, the little ingrate. Another landed on my head. I put my hat back on. It was so sunny and nice, we sat and talked and munched for quite a while.

The ski back (downhill through the trees) wasn't so nice. It was getting icy, the trail was beat up, so we made new cuts through the deeper snow to slow us down. I took a graceful tumble and recrunched my neck, but fortunately everything held together and I don't hear any grinding this time. I guess all that physical therapy paid off. The shadows got long, we decided not to go back up The Screamer and took an alternate route and were treated to a Mt. Hood exposure. It had been hidden most of the day. The last long uphill, I had Abba songs stuck in my head. Damn you Mama Mia! They got me back to the parking lot in one piece.

Now it's dinner time. I've had my Aleve, my soak in the hot tub, and now, I'll go pour that glass of muscle relaxant. You know, the red liquid one you put in stemmed glasses. What a wonderful Wednesday. I sure hope the snow holds for the kids. That ski trip is a month away!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

PreValentine Date Night

Pizza and a movie. And a bottle of wine. Perfect date night.

The pizza? Start with some Trader Joe's herb crust dough. Heat up that pizza stone nice and hot. Add some TJ fresh mozzarella and bake five minutes. Now top that disc with the following: browned fresh italian sausage (no casings), caramelized onions and garlic, lightly sauteed spinach, sun dried tomatoes, a little prosciutto if you have it, kalamata olives, grated asiago cheese, goat cheese, then bake 5 more minutes.

The vino? La Boca Malbec from TJ's. Under $4 a bottle. A steal.

The movie: courtesy of Netflix, The Visitor

Strange coincidence with the film. We were driving around Trout Lake looking for decent snow for an afternoon cross country ski (which we didn't find), listening to Fresh Air on our local public radio station. There was an interview with actor Richard Jenkins, nominated for best actor in The Visitor (2007). This film kind of went under the radar. When I put it in my queue I had never heard of it. I read the reviews on the netflix site, and decided it was worth a viewing. Anyway, I'm listening to this interview, thinking, this sounds like a great movie. I didn't know what movie I had waiting to be watched...I was really surprised when I opened the red envelope that night!

The Visitor is about a widowed economics professor (Jenkins as Walter Vale) who finds his NYC apartment occupied by a couple of illegal immigrants, Tariq (from Syria) and Zainab (from Senegal). He gets wrapped up in their lives when Tariq is thrown into a detention center. I highly recommend putting it in your own queue. It is VERY worthy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Suspicious Minds

I've been having fun with Facebook lately. It's especially fun to be in more regular contact with my overseas and far flung friends. It gets a little obsessive, though, so I try to control myself.

Today I checked in and saw a survey posted by one of my young 'Friends'. If you are on Facebook, you know these surveys: Twenty five things about me is one. Ten Names is the latest. The Ten Names survey raised serious warning bells in my suspicious mind. If you read the questions, you'll see what I'm talking about. Young people might not take notice, but they should.

1. YOUR REAL NAME: now everyone knows your real (full) name
2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters OF FIRST NAME plus -izzle.): innocent enough
3. YOUR SPY NAME: (favorite color and favorite animal): favorite things can be used for password identification
4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (your middle name and street) middle name and street name also used for security questions
5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name): another disarming innocent question
6. YOUR SUPERHERO/CRIMINAL NAME: (Your 2nd favorite color, and favorite drink):
more favorites
7. YOUR IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, 1st letter of your last name, 2nd letter of your moms maiden name, 3rd letter of your dads name, 1st letter of a siblings first name, and last letter of your moms first name): first letters of family members' names can't be all that good, and come on, Iraqi name? What's up with THAT?
8. YOUR WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (parents' middle names): more info on your parents
9. YOUR GOTH NAME: (black, and the name of one of your pets): pet names again
10. Your ghetto girl name (first 3 letters of your first name and add -iqua): see 2 and 5
11. Porn Star name: (Name of your first pet and your mother's maiden name):
both are used for security ids, mother's maiden name is common for banking info
12. ONLINE NAME: (first 2 letters of your first name, first 2 letters of your middle name, first 2 letters of your last name): seems innocent, but might well be a password

Does anyone else think that answering this quiz might be living dangerously? Answer it on a piece of paper if you must, have a good laugh, then shred it. And if you've already posted your answers, you might want to unpost it, and watch your bank and credit card accounts!!!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I finally got around to downloading my camera, relieving it of the last week or so's photos. I am afraid I should have taken more. I'll show you what I've been up to.

One day during the string of gray and damp days, the weather let up and we took a good walk with the dog. I had my camera in my pocket, and caught this rainbow as we headed up the last hill. This is rainbow season around here. It's good to keep a camera handy. You never know when you'll need to locate that pot of gold. It might be just around the bend!

Last Saturday was the annual Chili Cookoff at Wind River Cellars. Last year the weather limited the field to 5 or 6. This year, the Goodwillies shifted the event to afternoon, and it was SO nice we held festivities out on the back deck. There were 11 chilis to taste. All of them fantastic. It was hard to vote for just one. Yours truly didn't make the top 3, but I did have a great time. Joel has some more photos on his blog. Word of warning: don't taste 11 different chilis at one sitting. I was up from 1-4 am watching missed episodes of Grey's Anatomy. The abc affiliate in the nw is fighting with our satellite provider so we've had no abc since the first of the big...the two shows I occasionally watch on abc, I catch there!

Sunday was the super Super Bowl. We were lucky to have been part of the local gang at Hooba's. Marc outdid himself, both in the provisions department, and in entertainment value. Those who were there know what I'm talking about. Joel put a sign on the tasting room door and moved his wine samples to Hooba's for the day. We didn't have any winning numbers for the pool, but we did have a fantastic time. We're loving you, Husum.

Finally, yesterday was the Mt Adams and ONC Gorge Nordic Clubs' annual potluck and moonlight ski at Atkinsson Sno Park. Nine of us met up at 1 for a pre-event ski. Three decided to snowshoe instead, due to the rather crusty condition of the old and rapidly shrinking snow. The rest of us headed up the trail past the Ice Caves to the Natural Bridges. Lloyd and I hiked there last fall. It looked beautiful with snow. We skied across the first (and widest) bridge. Not being a fan of narrow crossings with rocky boulders below, I had to take a couple of deep breaths, head my skis into the tracks made by Elliot, Yolanda, Lloyd and Randy, and give a rousing "Cowabunga" to get across. Obviously, I was successful because I'm writing this from my home and not the hospital. We ended up doing a 6.5 mile trek, and got back to the warming hut just as the rest of the group was arriving WITH FOOD. And boy were we hungry. The moon was beautiful in a clear sky, but the trail was icier than I like. My night vision is terrible. So when I had a chance to leave with Jan and Jo, I did. It was a wise decision. When Lloyd and Fred got back to the house, they regaled us with details of their up close and personal meetings with mother earth. Maybe if we get some fresh, I'll go back up while the moon is still bright.

So today, we rest. And blog. And go to the matinee of Slumdog Millionaire at Andrew's Pizza and Starlight Theater. I'm too tired to do anything else.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

And the Best Bong Award Goes To...

Okay, okay. By now everyone in the world has seen the picture of Michael Phelps and the bong taken back in November at the University of South Carolina. The local sheriff has used up his 15 minutes of fame making noise about filing charges (based on a photo?). Can you believe it? Bongs at a college party? Call me crazy, but I'm sure there were bongs at parties I attended while in college in the early 70's. I daresay there have been bongs at college parties for over 40 years now. Big whoop.

I know. Michael is a roll model and makes beau coup bucks as a sponsor, which demands a squeaky chlorine clean image. I'm not excusing his was pretty stupid of him to think that someone wouldn't be around to take a picture to see to some those who live in glass houses could be morally outraged. But a little bit of perspective is in order here. As he himself said "I'm 23 years old". I want everyone who is just appalled at this to think back to when you were 23. Hmmm. I thought so.

I'm not a shrink or an authority on human behavior, but as a lifelong observer of stupid things people do (having survived doing some pretty stupid things during my 20's), and based on my intense 11 year experience as the mother of competitive swimmers, Michael going berserk during his breaks from swimming should surprise no one who knows what swimmers do to excel at their sport. And what happens when all the time that swimming sucks up is suddenly free with no worries about tomorrow's 5 am practice, and no coach/parent to be accountable to. It's especially bad when everyone in the world is watching you. Without the regimen of training, Michael is obviously a 'fish out of water' and has some maturing to do.

Here's one young man who is not everything people think he is. He's a very fast swimmer and fierce competitor. He was blessed with a perfect swimming body, and was fortunate to have found swimming with great coaches to make the most of his talent. And a dedicated swim mom behind him the whole way. What kind of human being he is, well, like the rest of us, he's a work in progress. I hope he takes these experiences, pulls it together, and figures it all out as he grows up. Hopefully with the same focus he uses for training and racing, and sooner rather than later. Because there's more to a successful life than gold medals, records, money, fancy SUVs, and hearty partying. I can say that. I've been 23, two and a half times over.

Thank you, Clay Jones, for the 'toon.